Gift ideas for long-distance boyfriend?
March 13, 2012 11:17 PM   Subscribe

What to get my boyfriend as a general "you're awesome" present?

My boyfriend spoils me to death and I want to get him a present to show my appreciation for what a sweetheart he is. The problem is, I have no idea what to get him and he basically has the money to get anything he really wants.

We are long distance; I live in Seattle and he lives in NYC. He is 26, a UX designer, and he likes oatmeal and white chocolate macadamia cookies, comic books (like Batman), video games, going out to eat, music, and movies. He is both really social and pretty nerdy. He is not a very "manly man." He has gotten me presents that I use every day-- nice headphones (he already has some), an iPhone (he is up on new technology for his job and already has everything in this category, plus it's out of my budget), a loose leaf tea pot, and added me to his music streaming service. I would really love to get him something he can use every day.

He shops at Banana Republic, J.Crew, and Uniqlo, and I thought about a gift card but that seems impersonal. I don't know if I want to pick out clothes for him because I am not sure that I know his taste enough to get him something he'd love. Experience ideas are out since we are apart, but I'm open to solo-experience ideas.

My budget is about $50. We have been dating for 7 months. I have no idea where to start! Any ideas are very appreciated :)
posted by queens86 to Shopping (30 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Get him a watch.

It doesn't have to be expensive, it just has to be something he wouldn't wear himself, but something you think would look good with what he wears. I had an old GF give me a watch for my birthday back in the late '90s that I still get compliments about today. Find him something affordable and fashionable. This is much easier than it was in the past. Make sure to include that whenever he is looking at the watch, he is thinking about you. I still do, and I haven't seen her for at least a decade.

He is not a very "manly man."

This right here screams watch to me. Maybe it's just me.
posted by Sphinx at 11:30 PM on March 13, 2012 [2 favorites]

Nice coffee, coffee grinder, or coffee drip & filters
A really nice thermos
LLBean slippers
Quality basics like Rainbow sandals, Gap or Patagonia thermals, smart wool socks, or
High-thread-count sheets (will be more than $50...)
Gift certificate for a nice haircut
Good shaving materials- try kiehl's
Maybe a little embarrassing (so don't send it to his office!) but fancy undies... To be saved for later use
Swiss army knife / leatherman
posted by samthemander at 11:32 PM on March 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

OK, this isn't for everyone, but here's what I would do. He has money to buy any sort of "things" that he wants. He sounds like kind of a nerd (as am I - takes one to know one). So what you want is more of an experience then a thing.

Which brings me to the stupidly fun idea of Steak and Blowjob day, which is tomorrow. Since you're in a long distance relationship, you can tease ahead to the next time you'll be together. I would send him this link and let him think about how you will be celebrating the next time you see him. Then when that happens, spend the 50 bucks on making a really nice meal.

If you or he aren't in to oral sex or red meat, this could be tweaked to fit your particular fancies. Oatmeal and um...whatever you might be into. If you don't want to tie into the "holiday" tomorrow, create a gift card for your special night (or breakfast event!) giving him a glimpse of what he has in store for the next time you're together and spend the cash on putting your plan into action.
posted by monkey!knife!fight! at 12:01 AM on March 14, 2012

A watch is a great idea! Unfortunately, so great that he bought himself one a couple months ago that he wears every day :( Any other ideas in a similar vein?
posted by queens86 at 12:20 AM on March 14, 2012

A Leatherman?

My parents got me one of these keychain models for xmas. I use it almost every day now...
posted by victory_laser at 12:51 AM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

Care package. Bake some cookies using a shipping-friendly recipe. Also a leatherman.
posted by sebastienbailard at 12:54 AM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

Some ideas on certain themes you mention:

Tech: Do you spend a lot of time talking over skype or phone? Does he need a bluetooth headset? If so, there's a retractable bluetooth headset on sale at right now that's perfect for your budget.

Food: You can buy a subscription to Foodzie to give him a gourmet goodies surprise every month. There's also a bacon of the month club with Zingermans that is a fun indulgence.

Music / Movies / Comics: lower-cost DIY ideas...but the effort and creativity is the payoff here. Create a special playlist of favorite songs, or make a video/slideshow montage of photos from occasions you've shared together. If you're really creative, you can make a timelapse video of you in all your favorite places in Seattle, with his favorite music as the soundtrack. Simpler to execute: Digital picture frame that has a daily photo of you in a favorite place in Seattle. Burn him a disc of his favorite all-time movies, or tv shows from when he was a kid, or a compilation based on a theme (special set of all the various Batman franchise movies & tv shows, for example).
posted by hampanda at 1:03 AM on March 14, 2012

Ask him. Seriously, just ask him. Explain what you want to do and why and your budget. Ask him to make a list. Then pick something off the list and buy it.

Don't underestimate the power of gifting ordinary things. I got several Amazon gift cards for Christmas and was extremely pleased, as it signaled friends had been listening to me, which meant a lot emotionally.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:10 AM on March 14, 2012

Are you crafty at all? I'd make him something!
posted by mooza at 1:56 AM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

posted by EndsOfInvention at 2:02 AM on March 14, 2012 [3 favorites]

Pocket watch? Might be too expensive, but I like using mine when I'm wearing a suit.

A nice pocket knife?
posted by backwards guitar at 3:50 AM on March 14, 2012

You could try an iPhone case, with a design that evokes a common memory between you two. You could apply this idea to many other products as well.
posted by JamesBlakeAV at 3:52 AM on March 14, 2012

Find an assortment of vintage cufflinks and two nice shirts to wear with?
A really good belt and/or belt buckle[s]
Post him a picture of great, sexy, amazing lingerie and tell him you'll be wearing it when you next meet up?
Or write him an erotic story with you two in it.
Model helicopter.
A mixtape.
Do a little collage art-piece made up of pics of you two together.
A Missoni bathrobe
posted by honey-barbara at 3:54 AM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

Bake him some oatmeal-white chocolate chip macadamia cookies and send them in a nice box to him, along with a note that's as sexy or sweet as the tone of your relationship.

Maybe send him the cookies along with a small purchased gift from the recommendations above.
posted by shortyJBot at 4:27 AM on March 14, 2012

Is there anything Seattle specific you could get him? Especially if you both have a connection or memory around it, say a regional drink, or candy? What about beer?
posted by nulledge at 4:30 AM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

Maybe one of his gadgets needs a nice leather/something vegan case? Since he's so social they probably get a lot of wear and tear.
posted by Mizu at 4:36 AM on March 14, 2012

A survival kit: Make him a mix tape of all your favorite songs for him to listen to on his iPod, a $10 voucher at your local diner for your next hot date "together", a nice photo of you with his face shot glued on (maybe ontop of a daggy old postcard of Japan or Argentina or somewhere) placed in a frame, a bag of the hottest dried chillies you can find and a super nice scarf?

One of the coolest gifts I ever got was a penguin radio clock with a tape inside that was pre-recorded, every morning the alarm clock would start and id hear my friend singing 'Stand by me' - wish I knew where that clock is now.
posted by Under the Sea at 5:21 AM on March 14, 2012

Your bf sounds sort of like my husband and I would also say "watch", particularly if it's in a fun colour, quirky shape, interesting material. My husband started with one "nice" watch he got from his boss and he wore it ALL the time, but now he has like 4 (including a super nice one from my parents to cheap plastic bright yellow watch) and I think he enjoys picking out what to wear and they all remind him of a story or a person.
posted by like_neon at 5:49 AM on March 14, 2012

Cubicle tchotchkes? I got my nerdy, video game loving, UX designer-type boyfriend Funko POP Batman and Robin for Christmas.

I also buy him a lot of novelty boxers from the GAP. Everyone needs more undies, especially ones with robots, roosters, or sandwiches on them.
posted by elsietheeel at 6:01 AM on March 14, 2012

Your boyfriend really wants this iPhone case. He may not know he wants it. He may not even know it exists. But trust me, he wants it.
posted by gauche at 6:03 AM on March 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

Not to be crass, but since you're long-distance, you could always throw a Tenga Egg or two (or something more elaborate) in the care package.
posted by kickingthecrap at 6:18 AM on March 14, 2012

Anything that shows you've been paying attention.

Don't get too worked up about it; guys are pretty slack with the whole gift thing in my experience. Find any cue of something he's shown a more-than-passing interest in (Dr. Who, macrame, balloon animals, whatever) and:

- Make him something with that theme. He'll appreciate the time you took to build it. You're 7 months in, so hopefully past the Fatal Attraction phase where a gift of your time, even if misguided, will be welcomed with love, and not "oh my god you're so weird" and "please-don't-murder-my-kid's-bunny-mittens".

- Anything non-themed that involves time and attention. Guys are thick. Thick as two planks that have been nailed to a collection of other planks. It is not about the thing itself. It is about the gift as a symbol of your joy in having him in your life.

- He's 26. Lego or alcohol are probably ok. Maybe a little of both. In moderation. We've all tried to take over the world with Lego Mindstorms after a little too much single-malt Scotch Whisky.

If in doubt, try my patented Neverfail Totally Oddball Approach: Weave 3 or so random purchases (from thrift shops or discount stores) into an intriguing narrative that will make no sense to anyone but you and they. That one time when you chatted over Skype. That other time when you braved the cross-country adventure of AmTrac and/or the TSA. For inspiration, read LiveJournal, consult strangers on the internet, or just roll dice and select from the Wandering Monsters table.

You'll end up with a charming story to tell your kids if it all works out, and if it doesn't, an hilarious tale to tell your pub-mates and future beaus of The Time You Went All Out And It Went Pear Shaped With Hilarious Consequences.

posted by But tomorrow is another day... at 6:55 AM on March 14, 2012 [3 favorites]

Monogrammed handkerchiefs. Nice ones. Even if he doesn't carry a handkerchief -- he might start.
posted by devinemissk at 7:06 AM on March 14, 2012

My husband is still in love with his Lego Fallingwater, long after he finished it
posted by Mchelly at 7:58 AM on March 14, 2012

A Missoni bathrobe

Not for under $50.

I'm in the make something camp, but what I like to give are nice versions of everyday things - good chocolate, nice whiskey, or a nicer pen. Something people use every day.
posted by mippy at 8:45 AM on March 14, 2012

Smoked or canned salmon from the shop in the Pike Place market.

Cracked wheat sourdough bread. There are now Trader Joes in NYC but I don't think the east coast bakery uses the same starter.
posted by brujita at 8:45 AM on March 14, 2012

If you really want to get him something he will use every day, get him a neat coffee mug or a pint glass. Everyone has a favorite mug or glass (I can't be the only one right?) and he will always think of you when he uses it.

If you want to do something special for him, get a decent pen and some stationary and send him letters every week (or you could do postcards). They don't have to be flowery, involved things. They can just be silly little notes or drawings or whatever. Getting mail that isn't a bill is always exciting.
posted by ephemerista at 9:11 AM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

I would get him some type of loose-leaf tea sampler. He might not like every one, but you can get small samples of teas very cheaply, so you can get him 30 or more different types with $50!

Samples from Upton Tea Imports look like they're about $1 per 15g sample, which will make at least 3 mugs of tea or twice as many tea-cups full.

I think it would be great fun to get a bunch of teas and try to figure out which one to try for the day, and afterward he might have a new list of favorite teas!
posted by that girl at 9:30 AM on March 14, 2012

My most treasured random gift from a sweetie is a titanium spork and travel chopsticks in a little travel pouch, which he surprised me with after the 2nd time I showed up to my volunteer gig with lunch but nothing to eat it with. It was an incredibly thoughtful and sweet gift that I use several times a week, always filled with a little bit of extra love for the person who gave it to me.

Other gifts I treasure similarly, because they reflect an understanding of who I am and what I like and are useful on a near-daily basis: a well-designed travel coffee mug and a messenger-type bag from a high-quality (but not high-fashion or ridiculously expensive) manufacturer. These are gifts that would work well for most geeky types who care about quality, though the bag is going to be a little more expensive and might not be a great idea to purchase without knowing his requirements (the person who gave me mine already knew I was lusting after that specific one).

Other ideas: If he likes coffee, get a bag of beans (whole!) from a good coffee roaster local to you, and send them to him with a nice Aeropress or French press and a nice travel mug. High-quality chocolate is generally appreciated, as is a bottle of his booze-of-choice if he enjoys drinking--and if he's the sort that really appreciates good food, go the extra mile and try to get booze and chocolate that pair well together (the Internet is helpful here, and the folks at the liquor shop might be, too).
posted by rhiannonstone at 1:09 PM on March 14, 2012

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