`The moonlit evening commutes. That unmistakable bite in the air when leaving the house the next morning. The gradual stockpiling of large tins of Quality Street by your local supermarket. The illuminated front garden of that one overzealous neighbour who has already deemed it necessary to set their elaborate Christmas illuminations up. The clues are there, and they all point to the same thing: the festive season is almost upon us once more.
Among other things, this revelation means that, unless you like the idea of waking up to an empty void beneath the Christmas tree, it’s time to start thinking about what to put on your list. So, whether you’re looking for ideas for yourself, or gift hunting for the gent in your life, here are a few fail-safe present ideas that every man will appreciate when the 25th finally arrives.
Even if you don’t plan on wearing them through the winter months, sneakers provide the perfect gifting option during the festive period. Whether you prefer chunky high fashion styles or sleeker classic whites, set your feet up for the year ahead with a fresh pair.
We could wax lyrical all day about the merits of an overshirt, but suffice to say they should be an essential part of any man’s cold-weather arsenal. This is a present that will see more use than most as its applications don’t end at winter layering. Try using it as a makeshift jacket in the summer and you’ll be equally impressed.
A Leather Weekend Bag
If you’re heading to see family for Christmas it can sometimes be a struggle to fit all those gifts in your bag on the way home. But not if one of those gifts happens to be a new holdall. A weekend bag isn’t just for Christmas, though. Opt for leather and it might even outlast you. Either way, it’s a quality piece of kit and a must-have for any discerning gent.
Everyone deserves a quality pair of wireless headphones. A comfortable pair not menacingly futuristic with a bit of vintage charm should do the trick. Ideally you want noise cancellation, long battery life and, above all, comfort.
A Single Malt
Cognac may be the festive evening tipple of choice, but we’ll take a good single malt over that any day. In our view the Scots produce the best drams on the market, but if you’ve exhausted all the homegrown options then you could also look further East. The rise of Japanese whisky in the West stretches back to the late 1990s but Nippon’s distilleries have actually been in action since around the 1920s. You won’t be disappointed.
Traditional Shaving Gear
Don’t take the fact that it’s cold outside as carte blanche to adopt the grooming habits of a caveman. Staying well preened is more important than ever in the winter months and good grooming starts with a great shave. Nothing beats the closeness of a traditional safety razor, particularly when combined with a quality shaving brush and cream.
A Cocktail Kit
A novel alternative to a big bottle of something expensive. A premium quality cocktail kit with an emphasis on practicality and build over gimmicks and unnecessary accessories is always a winner. Throw in a few miniatures as well as some bitters and syrup and you’re on the way to upgraded Christmas tipples and well-earned festive hangovers.
A Good Cookbook
Granted, you’d need a wide stocking but a cookbook always makes for a great present. It also usually works out for everyone with opportunities to sample the book’s recipes later in the year. Phaidon’s national cuisine series makes for great gifting, as does anything with Ottalenghi’s name on it. Nigel Slater is another safe bet.
Another serious gifting power move. However, there’s fine line between Cornwall gift shop and high-end designer beads. Let certain failsafe jewellery brands be the guiding star here, notably Miansai for bracelets, A.P.C. for necklaces and Le Gramme for ethically-minded rings.
A Home Fragrance Diffuser
Whilst candles are always a popular gift, upgrading to a home fragrance diffuser is a serious interiors power move. You also don’t need to worry about setting off the smoke alarm. It’s worth leaving your laptop screen open on home fragrance brands like Tom Dixon, Molton Brown and Jo Malone to give lurking would-be gift-givers a spot of inspiration.
It doesn’t necessarily have to be in jumper form – it could be socks, a scarf or even sweatpants – but premium-quality cashmere in whatever form is the ultimate indulgence. Brands like Sunspel, John Smedley and Johnstons of Elgin are always a safe choice and you’ll immediately feel the difference.
A premium pair of pyjamas, a nightshirt or some purposely-designed lounge pants are the sort of items that are difficult to buy for yourself. There’s always a creeping guilt. Should I be spending so much on something that I wear inside the house? The answer is: no. Someone else should be buying loungewear for you.
An Old-School Camera
In an age of frankly insane camera phones you might ask yourself why you would need an actual camera. But take a look at the latest Leica compact digital cameras and tell us you don’t need one of those. Smartphones are great and all but they don’t rival the ability and feel of a stylish compact digital camera in hand. Even wearing one over your shoulder is a statement by itself.
Shades aren’t just for summer. Eyes need protecting from glare and harsh rays in the winter too and a cool pair of sunglasses are a gift that’ll set you up for years to come – so long as you look after them and invest in a proper case. Ray-Bans are classics for a reason but a stylish pair that complement your face shape are another perfect stocking filler.
Gifting a piece of art shows that real thought and personality has gone into selecting your present. There’s plenty of choice out there, from gallery gift shops and specialist dealers through to affordable purveyors like society6, curated pieces and Showstudio.
A Beard Trimmer
2020 is the year that a good trimmer became not only essential but hard to come by. As lockdowns came and went, stocks online fluctuated and so did unfortunate beards, goatees and varying levels of stubble. A beard trimmer is the ideal stocking filler, so add it to your list.
A Next-Gen Games Console
Whether you prefer Sony, Microsoft or Nintendo, if your loved ones really love you they should be able to at least purchase something that can be plugged into a large 4K TV with the purpose of pure button crushing escapism.
Reusable Water Bottle
It doesn’t matter how many times you might need to go to the toilet, your aim every day should be to drink two litres of water. And the best way to spread that out throughout the day is by having a reusable water bottle with you (we all know single-use plastic is a no-no now). S’well and Chilly’s are the market leaders, offering an array of eye-catching designs.
A Quality Pen
Words are powerful, but not when they’re written with a cheap Biro. Anything worth putting on paper is worth putting there properly, making a high-quality ballpoint or fountain, if you’re old school, pen one of the most important stocking fillers a man could hope for.
What good is a nice pen without something in which to jot down your musings? A little black book is an absolute must-have, and if it’s to be done right, nothing but leather will do. Smythson has some quirky yet classic options featuring embossed lettering and gilded pages.
Those trusty white canvas sneakers that served you so well throughout the summer months are soggy and brown after five minutes outside come winter. The solution: a pair of sturdy, well-made boots just in time for the start of the season. For extra style points, go for on-trend commando sole hiking boots with quality leather uppers to ensure maximum performance in adverse weather.
A Shoe Care Kit
If you’re lucky enough to get a pair of brand new shoes for Christmas, whether sneakers or Oxfords, you’ll need a good cleaning kit to keep them looking sharp. Nudge those in a gifting mood towards something that includes a dynamic premium cleaner that works on different materials as well as a high-quality brush and water-repellent spray.
An Everyday Timepiece
A Rolex is something we all would love to own, don’t get us wrong, but it’s not exactly the most practical watch for, say, doing a spot of gardening, or playing with the kids at the weekend. What you need is what’s referred to in the industry as a “beater” – a solid affordable timepiece that can handle a scrape or two and still look handsome. Smart watches fall into this category too.
Maybe we’re getting old, but as far as the Ape team is concerned there are few finer pleasures in life than pulling on a brand new pair of socks come Christmas day. We’re not talking cheap, novelty socks though. No, we’re talking thick, well-made designs spun from luxurious fabrics such as Sea Island cotton, merino wool and cashmere. These are the kind of socks a connoisseur can appreciate. They might cost a pretty penny, but your feet will thank you.
Somewhere To Store Your Plastic
If you’ve managed not to max out all your cards on festive frivolities in the run up to the 25th, first of all, congratulations. Second of all, you’re going to want somewhere smart to keep them. A cardholder is the modern equivalent to the classic wallet. It’s slick, low-profile and won’t spoil the line of your trousers when slotted into your back pocket.
An Oud Fragrance
Leathery, rich, deep and woody; an oud fragrance is an absolute must for any self-respecting gentleman when the winter months take hold. It’s bold and powerful, too, which means even that frigid December air won’t be able to sap its sillage. As far as we’re concerned, Acqua Di Parma and Tom Ford make some of the best we’ve come across.
An Audiophile-Approved Bluetooth Speaker
Home stereo systems are dying out. After all, why have a cumbersome hi-fi when you could have something a fraction of the size that produces far superior sound? Look to the likes of Bang & Olufsen, Bose, Sonos and Bowers and Wilkins for some of the finest portable bluetooth options available.
If carefully selected and well-maintained (if you receive a kitchen knife for Christmas your first reaction should be to buy a quality sharpener) a chef-standard kitchen knife should see you through to eternity. Bourdain’s timeless suggestion of the Global G2 as the only knife you’ll ever need still stands.
This year proved that hair clippers are essential – and now they’re back in stock they’re certainly worth asking for. You never know when your barber is likely to shut up shop either side of a lockdown so prep for the worst possible outcome and invest in a professional standard for an emergency DIY short back and sides.
Good Coffee For Life
Getting out of bed in the morning is difficult enough. Particularly when it’s still pitch black outside. The prospect of a good cup of coffee in the comfort of your own kitchen can take some of the sting out of it, though, which is why a proper coffee machine is an excellent thing to add to your wishlist.
Premium Gym Gear
Ever wished you could just wear your gym gear everywhere? Well, actually there’s no reason you can’t… so long as you’ve chosen wisely from a quality sportswear brand. Some comfy Flyknit trainers, a luxe hoodie, a good-looking shell jacket – this sort of gear is just as at home around town at the weekend as it is on the treadmill, so it’s not a bad thing to ask Santa for. It will help kickstart that New Year fitness regime, too.
Ok, the words ‘grown-up’ are doing a lot of lifting here, but there are some exceptional Lego kits to be had that should never be wasted on children. Our current favourites all come from the Lego Ideas sub-section, which includes everything from the International Space Station to a Fender Strat to the house from Home Alone. Complex, mindful and nerdy as hell: remember, it’s not playing, it’s building.
Smart Home Hub
Remember when you thought a Playstation was the height of Christmas technology in the 1990s? Fast-forward a couple of decades and we have small, innocent-looking electronic pebbles that can control everything from your lights to your garage door.
Amazon and Google still lead the charge in this department but there’s other brands creeping into the smart home market. Set the foundations for your new connected home with a smart hub and slowly build up your collection of accessories and peripherals until you can control almost everything with your voice. Welcome to the future.
Anti-ageing serums, toning masks, moisturising creams… No amount of premium skincare is too much in our view. As well as keeping you looking your best, a good skincare regime has the added benefit of putting a regular, mindful slice of me-time in your diary.
A Good Blanket
Maybe it’s our age or our natural reluctance to turn the heating up, but we’re fond of a blanket – preferably one made in a softly woven fabric, handsome colours and maybe a nice Glen check. Labels like Pendleton, Missoni and Zegna are all getting in on the luxury homeware game. Plus, when it’s not keeping the chill off your knees, the right blanket adds style points to your living room.
Yes, it’s a Christmas cliche, but if you know that somebody’s buying you pants (because they do it every year), then put the word out about brands you actually want to wear. Good underwear is not a luxury, it’s a basic human right. Oh, and if you’re asking, we’d like something soft and breathable with just a little bit of stretch, thanks very much.
A Juicy Autobiography
Life lessons, priceless anecdotes and a chance to get to know our heroes. That’s why an autobiography is always a good stocking filler. On our reading list this Christmas are new books from Dave Grohl, Stanley Tucci, Louis Theroux, Bob Mortimer and Sharon Stone.