From Jess: I thought I’d give you all a holiday gift this year…one more Les Bunge post! When I asked him if he had time to write a gift guide he graciously said, “No problem, gotta keep my fans happy.” LOL and eye roll. So I hope this post will bring you a fraction of the joy it brings him:) I’d also like to state for the record that HE got all of us those matching outfits. Ok, enjoy!
The older you get the harder it is buying gifts because you’ve been buying for roughly the same people over and over. How many scarves, sweaters, wallets, gloves, ties, or socks can you buy someone? It’s a problem to be sure. An editor at Emily Henderson Design was wondering if I might share my thoughts about this dilemma we all experience around the holidays for the older men in your life and I do not say no to this particular editor (not ever in her lifetime). Years ago I admired some new technology on a miter saw in front of my family. I didn’t want it I already had two perfectly fine mitre saws. Nevertheless, on Christmas morning there was this huge box and in it, that miter saw. I gave an Oscar-winning performance of excitement. I learned a good lesson that day. Know your person and truly listen to them. And I mean LISTEN, it has helped my gift-giving immensely.
My favorite gifts on the receiving end did one of a few things. It made me look better (or younger), it made me feel better, it made my life easier, or it was just frickin cool. So let me see if I can’t come up with a few ideas that fit that bill.
What items make me look better? Well, I’m a shoe guy. I am partial to Italian-made men’s shoes. Those Italian fellas seem to like soft leather in a very stylish design. Though I am not Italian you wouldn’t know when looking at my feet when I’m spending a night on the town. I am also very good at women’s shoes. I thank being in the womb with my twin sister for that. I have bought many women’s shoes as a gift. My wife, my girlfriends, my friend’s wives. Funny, at birthday parties not one man in the room got it when the presents were opened. Every woman in the room, however, did. Now that made me look better to a whole lot of women. It also got me invited to a lot of birthday parties. HA! Paul Green and Freda Salvador shoes were the most comfortable. Mercedes Castillo and Manolo Blahnik were the most stylish. Christian Louboutins are the sexiest (at least to me). I do not know how many male readers there are at EHD but that information is for you. Take note! Nordstrom and Nordstrom Rack have an ample supply.
Back to the men, Magnanni makes some very fashionable dress shoes (all the shoes above). I say dress shoes as if I wear them only when I’m out on the town. To be truthful I wear them as everyday wear. They break in quickly and are quite comfortable. People have told me often that they always admire the shoes I wear. I don’t even notice because it is a habit of mine. But I gotta admit I like the attention. Sandro Moscoloni shoes are probably the softest leather of any of my shoes. The comfort they afford me does not take away from the style content. They look great. Again, people notice. Once upon a time in my life, a quite attractive woman told me that her mother always said a man with nice shoes is always worth a second look. Never forgot that. Ha!
Before I leave the shoe department let me tell you a story. Recently, I was given a pair of Crocs. I said at some point in my life, “Never and I mean never would I wear Crocs”. But, as to not hurt someone’s feelings I put them on and went to the store. Did they make me look better? No (but maybe). Did they make me feel younger? No (but maybe). Did they make my life easier? NO (but maybe). Were they frickin’ cool? NO (but maybe). Do I see my confused state? Yes. They were not uncomfortable. They are easy on and off. They come in real handy for quick trips to the market or to and from the hot tub or garden. I could live with the army green color of my first pair. Wait, did I say first pair? Yikes. I guess I’m not in opposition to them any longer. Geez, even old dogs can learn something new.
I am also a pocket square guy. I have found many all over this planet. I have found vintage ones in second-hand stores. One was actually a map of the USA. I have a Howdy Doody pocket square, not to mention a Roy Rogers one. When I buy new there is a company in Los Angeles called PSC (Pocket Square Clothing) they have a unique and fashionable outlook on the pocket square. I like their clothes also. Can’t go wrong there.
What makes me feel better? Well, frankly, when I get complimented on my attire. I own a few bow ties with matching pocket squares made of goose feathers. I have one black one and one white one. I have never worn either of them without a multitude of compliments. They are quite extraordinary. They are handmade by a company in South Carolina called Brackish. I am gonna get a colorful one this holiday season. It’s amazing how many different colors they come in. And, though I’ve mentioned it before, I always get complimented on any kilt I may be wearing from Utilikilt. They are a Seattle-based company. Just love them.
Also, let me say a sure winner every time is a pair of jeans. Usually, old men like me find a brand that we prefer and buy nothing else. That’s certainly true for me. I wear two brands. One is Hudson and the other is Joe’s. Both are available at Nordstrom. The Joe’s brand is more of my everyday wear. They fit a little looser and are easier to work in while still looking fashionable enough. The Hudson brand fits a little slimmer and seems a little dressier. I wear the “Blake” in the Hudson brand. They fit me well (my butt looks pretty good in them). Both brands have a stretch waist (best invention ever). There is nothing worse for me than going into a clothing store and trying on jeans for hours. I’m sure that is why most men find one or two brands and stick with them. Find out what your guy likes. Also, find out what you like them in. Sometimes that’s enough to get us to change. If you tell us we look great we cannot resist (compliments will get you everywhere).
Wait, another shoe I found that I thought was really cool. One of my female clients was wearing a pair of shoes that were quite attractive on her. Seeing that I’m a shoe guy I had to inquire. They are from Kane Footwear. They sort of resemble Crocs because of the holes but are anything but. I can say that because I bought a pair for myself. They are comfortable. They give you great support which I need because I walk a lot. Plus they look great. Gotta admit I feel kinda hip in them( don’t worry it will be short-lived ). Ha!
There’s another product that I’ve been using for 15 years that helps me look my best. It’s called Second Day. It is a hair cream made by Unite. I am lucky to have a full head of hair (thanks, Dad) but when I wake up it’s pretty scary and all over the place. Second Day takes care of that. Also, my hair is rather thin so it helps that issue too. Nothing worse than looking like one of the Monkees pop group at 73. Yikes!
Most things that make my life easier are also pretty frickin’ cool. So this is a twofer. I have a paintbrush magnifying glass by Cyan Design. It’s not only coolio but unfortunately helps me immensely (getting old is a full-time job). It was one of the best gifts I have ever gotten.
I also own a bread-slicing knife by Farm Pottery. After getting used to a baguette a day living in Paris earlier this year, it comes in real handy. I’m still doing a baguette a day. Found a great bakery in Sonoma called Baker and Cook. Back when I used to frequent bars regularly I would walk in and my drink would be waiting for me. Now, I walk into a bakery and my baguette is waiting for me. Don’t know if that’s good or bad.
I also just came across an herb stripper made by Bare Bones. It’s a simple gadget but saves time in the kitchen. Shockingly, I have gotten into gardening…sort of. Must admit there is something about having your hands in the dirt that I didn’t understand before. Amazing!
Because of that, I bought a cool garden hose and a hose holder from Garden Glory. Mine is called “Night Rider Kit “. It’s kinda expensive but really good looking on the front of my house.
If you have a dog in your life (I have a new one, Babe!) Blueberry Pet actually makes a puffer jacket for dogs. Who knew?
If you have chickens in your life (I have five, yikes again!) I got a subscription for chicken feed from a company called Grubbly Farms. It’s easy and shows up every month. Quality is unmatched.
If one of your recipients owns an RV, there is a tabletop ice maker that is great. There are many brands. I have a Frigidaire. I own an Airstream and would always have to buy bags of ice when I got to the campsite. Not anymore, the first thing I do is plug in the ice maker. All set for the duration. It’s really nice to have. Also, when I have dinner parties or the like I’ll set it up on the patio with the drinks so people can serve themselves. Really cool and makes my life easier. Yay!
Now, not to get too personal but all men need underwear (with the exception of the Scottish regiment). Boxer briefs are the best invention of the modern man’s wardrobe. How we did without them is beyond me. I have tried several different brands over the years. The winner is the Calvin Klein. They are soft and silky feeling. They provide great support and really last. They sort of make you look like an athletic type also. Who doesn’t like looking like a jock? Even an old man like me.
I hope I was able to give you some ideas. I’ve always been of the opinion that “outside the box “ is always better than “dull in the box“.
Before I go I would like to give you all a gift, I live in a part of the country with hard water. One of my issues was always having a ring around my toilet bowl. I found myself cleaning that thing almost daily. If I had guests in my home I knew when they used my facilities they thought they were in a gas station on Route 66. It was annoying. I then stumbled on a product called “Krazy Klean“. I think I saw the ad on TikTok. Here was this person who said she hadn’t cleaned her toilet in a year. Really!? I got suckered in and ordered some. The instructions say you must clean the bowl thoroughly with a pumice stone. Then you drop this cartridge in the tank and you’re done. I did that six months ago and have not touched my sparkling toilet since. It is amazing. Who knew that I could get excited about a toilet bowl cleaner? Certainly not I.
And, as long as we’re in the powder room let me tell you about another product. I was at my niece’s wedding. Upon using their restroom I noticed the toilet paper was different than the usual. It was beige in color and had a different and soft texture. When I left the venue the next morning I went into their gift shop to see if they sold the bathrobes that were in the rooms. I liked the burnt orange color and I could use the robe at my hot tub. I then noticed that they also sold the toilet paper by the box so I bought both. When I got home I googled the brand “Plant Paper“. The website explains a lot of things I didn’t know about toilet paper. I was sold on this ecologically and environmentally safe product. I promise you, you’ll like these two bathroom products.
I didn’t mean to end this gift guide in the crapper it just sort of happened. I hope it was ok.
One more thing, don’t forget about you. I went to Iceland recently to witness the Northern Lights, Merry Christmas to me. So do something nice for yourself. You are the one person that you can buy for and not need a gift receipt. Ha!
I hope all of you have a fruitful and satisfying Holiday Season.