What should I get my husband as a Christmas gift?
November 4, 2010 7:49 AM   Subscribe

What to get my husband for Christmas?

I have never been good at picking out gifts for men. This is my first Christmas with my husband and I have no idea what to get him!

He is a 22-year-old computer programmer who loves to read. I'm not sure I want to get him any books though because he already has so many he hasn't read yet! (Open to any suggestions though)

We do not have the biggest budget for gifts and the only things he had even mentioned are pricey electronics.

Also, I am afraid if I get him something expensive, he will never use it. (He has a history of doing so.)

I am almost on the verge of not even messing with gifts because he hasn't given me any ideas and when I have given him gifts in the past (valentine's day, birthday, anniversary) he seems to be ungrateful. I want him to be surprised about the AWESOME gift I get him so I need HELP!!!

Thank you!
posted by shortbus to Shopping (28 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Not sure if it's in your budget but a Kindle?
posted by stormpooper at 7:53 AM on November 4, 2010

He is a 22-year-old computer programmer

You'll find the answer here.
posted by bondcliff at 7:54 AM on November 4, 2010

It's hard to tell where "pricey" begins for other people, but it sounds like a Kindle might be a good fit. The WiFi-only model is $139 at Amazon.

You may also be able to find something suitable at ThinkGeek if he's on the geeky end of the programmer continuum.

(On preview: guess I'm seconding two previous answers.)
posted by flipper at 7:56 AM on November 4, 2010

I'm trying to stay at about $100 because I did already buy him a $50 wallet
posted by shortbus at 7:59 AM on November 4, 2010

One of the things I most like to get from my wife is clothes. I like them but I hardly ever buy them myself and when I do tend to the utilitarian. So when I receive them I've got a) something useful and aesthetic, b) something I wouldn't have bought myself (unlike books, electronics, etc) and c) something my wife thinks I look good in (which is a turn on). Plus she probably had fun doing the shopping which I always think is important.
posted by ninebelow at 8:02 AM on November 4, 2010 [2 favorites]

I also like to give my wife a stocking. It is a nicely ritualist way of giving gifts and means you can have lots of things to unwrap without spending that much money or running the risk of a biggish thing they might not like. Potential stocking fillers for a bloke: socks, briefs, chocolate, unusual foodstuffs, fragrance, skincare products, CDs, DVDs, toys, puzzles, something bedroom related, diary, stationary, stamps.
posted by ninebelow at 8:08 AM on November 4, 2010 [6 favorites]

Take him out on a date someplace nice.
posted by coolguymichael at 8:12 AM on November 4, 2010

What are some of the pricey electronics he's mentioned? That might give us something more to go on. Does he have any hobbies? Favorite shows / music?
posted by Brent Parker at 8:18 AM on November 4, 2010

Speaking as a computer programmer whose wife also thinks is ungrateful...I don't really like surprises. When I buy something, I have usually researched the hell out of it. If I get some random thing, I am usually not pleased. If you know exact sizes and tastes, clothes could be good. If he uses cologne, that's good, too. If he likes geeky stuff, I would second ThinkGeek. Does he collect anything?
posted by Lone_Wolf at 8:19 AM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

Cash. Tell him to spend it on whatever he would like.

I don't get very excited about presents. It isn't that I am ungrateful, far from it. I just don't show a lot of outward excitement, which drives my wife nuts. It could be the best present ever and it wouldn't change how I express it. On top of that, I am difficult to shop for because if I want something I normally buy it, if it is within our means.

My point is maybe your husband is just the type of person who doesn't show a lot of excitement, no matter what. So no matter how much time you spend, no matter what type of present you get, he isn't going to show the excitement you would if he had gotten you a gift. If that is the case, don't spend a lot of time on it. You will end up disappointed in the end and nobody wants that.
posted by Silvertree at 8:23 AM on November 4, 2010

Oh, and to make sure this doesn't happen in the future - tell him to install a wishlist bookmarklet. I'm sure he comes across things on the web all the time that he would like, but doesn't write down. In fact that would be a great "gift" to you, that he could easily give you.
posted by Brent Parker at 8:28 AM on November 4, 2010

>What to get my husband for Christmas?

Hand him a Victoria's Secret Catalogue. Ask him to page through it, and put a circle around outfits he likes. Then go buy one of them.

(Yes you'll wear it but it's *his* present)...
posted by thermonuclear.jive.turkey at 8:33 AM on November 4, 2010 [2 favorites]

A good laptop/messenger bag
Good headphones
posted by mkultra at 8:37 AM on November 4, 2010

I like giving (and getting) gifts of experiences rather than stuff. It's easy to make up a gift certificate for a weekend away (camping, cabins at state parks, tubing/kayaking in the spring, music festival, something with his guy friends, etc.) Last year I gave my SO a certificate to a roadtrip/concert of his choice to be used anytime during the year. He loved the idea. (We had the whole thing set & paid for at one point and our plans changed, so hey lurker, guess what's about to expire!) More stuff = more clutter & who needs that. Gifts of experiences mean more fun times together (or apart) & everyone needs that! Win-win.
posted by headnsouth at 8:40 AM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

Does he like food? Gift certificate to a nicer restaurant than you would usually go to? A selection of nice beers/wines/scotches/whatever?

I love gifts like these because they are CONSUMABLE and do not take up space!
posted by teragram at 9:06 AM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

What Silvertree said (except don't give your spouse cash). Over many years I have spent a ton of time agonizing over the perfect gift for him and he is just. never. excited. No matter how perfect. And then I'm sad. He buys what he wants, when he wants it. I can't bring myself to *not* give a gift, but I try to invest a little less emotion in his reaction or lack thereof. I try to remember that we just look at gifts differently.

Some years I have a little fun with it and do silly gag gifts. Or odd things we need around the house like mouse traps since he's the one who saves us from mouses.

Always a stocking with his favorite candy and fruit.

Some years we buy something we both want and can use together, like a furniture type thing, and call it our "present" to each other.

Charitable donation to his favorite cause instead of a gift?

Family membership to your local science museum - a charitable donation as well as a gift you can use together.
posted by evilmomlady at 9:08 AM on November 4, 2010

What else is he interested in and spend his time doing?

Does he go to the gym at all? A new gym bag might be nice instead of stinking up his regular backpack or messenger bag.

Does he do any outdoor work? Good quality deerskin gloves are very comfortable and rugged.

Does he have any non work related hobbies? An early edition guide or history of the hobby is cool both as a reference and a collectible. Here are two examples.

Might he be interested in dressing better since he's likely new(ish) in the workforce, but never really learned the basics? The GQ 2010 Style Manual is pretty cool and is easy to read even for those who have never picked up a magazine. Combine that with a discount shirt and tie or suit jacket, maybe? Make sure you get his measurements though.

You know him better than we do, certainly, but these are some jumping off points.
posted by ODiV at 9:12 AM on November 4, 2010

If he doesn't have tools, or not very many, 22 is a good age to start building up a good set of tools. Good tools are more expensive than cheap tools, but not overly expensive if you are buying them over time. A cordless drill with a a good set of bits (drill, and screwdriver) for assembling all the IKEA furniture is a good start. If he has that already, a nice set of wrenches - standard set first, and then a nice socket set to follow. I'm a geek and I like good tools in convenient carrying kit.
posted by Edward L at 9:35 AM on November 4, 2010

Is there anything he's ever mentioned that he'd like to have or do? That usually makes a great present.

My fiance is a sometimes musician, and he'd mentioned a few times how cool it would be to play mandolin. So I did a lot of research (thank you MeFi!) and got him a mandolin, and he was so happy!

Do you have a Wii or a DS?? My fiance sent me an email with the title "Hint Hint" and a link to the new Wii release of Goldeneye.

Any TV shows that you think he'd want on TV?

Guys tend to like fancy booze - fiance usually gets his dad a handle of Gentleman Jack or something a little nicer than your average dive carries. Or maybe a scotch sampler pack?
posted by radioamy at 9:54 AM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

When I buy something, I have usually researched the hell out of it. If I get some random thing, I am usually not pleased.

Same here. If you're going to get him something, be sure it either has no direct parallel or is better than whatever he would get for himself.

If he doesn't have tools, or not very many, 22 is a good age to start building up a good set of tools. Good tools are more expensive than cheap tools, but not overly expensive if you are buying them over time.

This is a good idea, too. Something like this: 200 Piece Craftsman Mechanics Set. It's all about the carrying case where there's a place for everything so nothing goes missing without knowing instantly! Just cruise SlickDeals until something good comes along.

FYI, this will probably be a gift you get an, "oh, thanks?" out of, but you'll find gets lots of use over time ^_^ (Having the right tools for the job is something that's generally severely under-rated... >_>)

Oh, and make sure you wrap it in a manner in which he won't instantly guess what it is after hearing it jingle. That's never any fun... -_-

A cordless drill with a a good set of bits (drill, and screwdriver) for assembling all the IKEA furniture is a good start. If he has that already, a nice set of wrenches - standard set first, and then a nice socket set to follow. I'm a geek and I like good tools in convenient carrying kit.

When was the last time you bought IKEA furniture??? 0_o
posted by StarmanDXE at 10:06 AM on November 4, 2010

I like the tools idea, frankly. I've always said that there are two types of men in the world: Those who use power tools and those who want to be the guy who uses power tools (I am firmly in the latter category).

However, there is no need for a surprise. Ask him what he wants. Tell him to make a list. Get him something from the list. No, it won't be a surprise, but it will be something better: something he wants. I know you want the joy of seeing his eyes light up and him saying "Oh Shortbus, I would never have thought of this! How awesome!", but you'll have to settle for a different type of joy.

You could also go for a lot of small gifts. Slippers! I'd never buy myself slippers, but damn me if I don't wear them all the time. A nice robe to wear when I get out of the shower and then sit around in until I get yelled at to move my ass.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 10:23 AM on November 4, 2010

However, there is no need for a surprise. Ask him what he wants.

Nah, just get him something/some stuff and -- if he doesn't like it -- take it back and exchange it! Odds are, if you get him a set of Craftsman tools with enough bits-and-pieces, he won't be able to conceive needing anything more and will decline trading it in :)

(I speak from personal experience here. I had a g/f get me like two pairs of these [extremely over-engineered, great for one specific use] wrenches which I had no use for, so I traded them in for a much more practical set of tools which I have used a boat-load of times!)
posted by StarmanDXE at 10:37 AM on November 4, 2010

My husband is a 33-year-old computer programmer, and you know, he still wants toys for Christmas. Not like GI Joes or Legos or whatever (no, wait, legos would probably be ok), but like board games and video games and puzzles. Last year I got him an Arduino and he thought that was super cool.
posted by hishtafel at 11:32 AM on November 4, 2010

Arkham Horror and Battlestar Galactica are both big, fun cooperative games that use their themes really well. Lots of fun bits to push around.
posted by mkultra at 11:58 AM on November 4, 2010

I'm a big fan of listening very closely to stuff my S.O. talks about or expresses interest in, in the months leading up to the big gift giving occasion. So maybe last month he said, "it would be really fun to start playing board games" - then you could get him a copy of Settlers of Catan. Or perhaps last time it rained, he muttered about not having any good wet weather gear - you could get him an awesome raincoat or umbrella.
posted by Sara C. at 1:34 PM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

Nthing Craftsman tools!
posted by Lone_Wolf at 1:54 PM on November 4, 2010

A lot of the ideas people have posted are good ideas. Don't get too stressed out, though; there really isn't that much downside... the worst that can happen is you get him something he doesn't want. If it's something he doesn't quite want, or it's something he *really* doesn't want, it's the same thing at the end of the day. With that in mind, if I'm stumped on a Christmas present for people, I try to get them something I think they've come across and might have had some interest in, but didn't buy for themselves because they thought they might not use it and would feel like they wasted money if they didn't. Here are some concrete examples: the Nike+iPod running sensor; the Jimi wallet (www.thejimi.com); the first season of the Wire. Stuff like that.

A random idea is a nice computer keyboard. I have Das Keyboard, which is kind of pricey, but I think is around $100; the Model M keyboards are cool too and a little cheaper, and I'm probably getting one for someone this year. (I'm not a programmer, but I type a lot for work. A nice keyboard is so much better than the cheap ones that come with the computer).

Clothes are nice. A decent laptop bag or something similar could be good (but might exceed the budget you set out). Anything like that where he has something acceptable enough that he's not going to buy a replacement, but probably doesn't really like what he has (make sure that's true, though... if you get him a replacement for something you don't like but he does, it won't be received well).

If he likes wine or alcohol, a $100 bottle of something would be pretty awesome. Several $20-$30 large bottles of beer would be pretty amazing, too.

Clearly I think about this stuff too much. I hope some of that is helpful.
posted by calcalcal at 12:30 PM on November 13, 2010

I would recommend searching on Google for "electronic gadgets". There are many interesting things that I find so tempting to buy for myself many times, and most cost under $50. If your husband loves reading, maybe look for something that he will use while reading books, like book lights, bookmarks, etc... Also give a shot at some geek sites, like thinkgeek, envirogadget, gizmodo and etc. - these sources often have news related tot eh lastest gadget releases.
posted by MikeJc at 7:00 PM on November 21, 2010

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