Ideas for a quality birthday gift.
November 16, 2012 7:11 AM   Subscribe

After a recent move and seeing the amount of "junk" we had accumulated together we are making an effort to buy quality over quantity. Help me find him a budget friendly birthday gift.

Some examples include a recently purchased pair of Chippewa boots that he thoroughly researched before buying. The important things to him were the craftsmanship and history associated with the brand. We are slowly accumulating crystal bar glasses. He aspires to some day own a high end piece of furniture, with an Eames Lounge Chair being the Holy Grail.

His birthday is coming up. In the past I would have stocked up on kitschy items from Think Geek and Perpetual Kid, but that isn't our trajectory anymore. My budget ($100-$150) doesn't really offer the opportunity to buy him most of the things he currently covets.

What are some things, in my price range, that are classic, quality, heritage items? Anything from clothing to furniture will do. Antiques/used items are no problem.
posted by ridiculous to Shopping (22 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
How about a nice pair of leather winter gloves?
posted by fermezporte at 7:14 AM on November 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Without knowing his specific interests/aesthetic, it's hard to point you in a particular direction, but I've been coveting a Pendleton blanket for a while. Come to think of it, one of their sweaters (or, if he's a plaid-loving kind of person, shirts) might make a nice gift.
posted by rebekah at 7:16 AM on November 16, 2012

Best answer: A nice dinner out. It won't contribute to you thinking, "man, look at all this junk, and we spent *so much* on it!" Next time you move.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 7:17 AM on November 16, 2012 [4 favorites]

Wusthof Classic 8" Forged Chef's Knife.

(If you like this idea and are going to be looking at other knives, make sure they're forged not stamped.)
posted by griphus at 7:19 AM on November 16, 2012 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: Great ideas so far. Thanks!

I wont thread sit, I purposely left out anything regarding interests and aesthetic to get a broad range of ideas.
posted by ridiculous at 7:32 AM on November 16, 2012

Best answer: Smartwool socks to go with his new boots. They are made of Merino wool. If you check around, some places have them on sale.

I now own about 8 pair and wear them year round. I threw out all of my other socks after wearing these. They are a little piece of heaven on your feet.
posted by JujuB at 7:35 AM on November 16, 2012 [4 favorites]

If you are both interested in classic bar pieces, that will buy you some lovely vintage glass items on EBay. I bought a set of eight silver-rimmed glasses and a mini ice bucket with a base for fifteen dollars at an estate shop, but Ebay offers a wide variety of classic styles and materials. You could also do a proper decanter and bar tools set, or a bar cart to keep everything organized and together.

Or buy a really great bottle of bourbon/whatever his favorite libation of choice is.
posted by jetlagaddict at 7:45 AM on November 16, 2012

I agree that the best way to buy classic quality at an affordable price is to go used. Etsy is a great place to get depression-era glass and other vintage items.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:49 AM on November 16, 2012

For example, along the lines of jetlagaddict's suggestion, these lovely depression-era decanters.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:50 AM on November 16, 2012

If he already has a good chef's knife, how about a DMT diamond sharpening stone to help keep an edge on it?
posted by straw at 8:10 AM on November 16, 2012

A nice dinner would be perfect, but here are a few other suggestions:

Vintage fountain pen (e.g. Sheaffer snorkel, $100)
Film SLR camera+lens (e.g. Nikon FM2+50mm lens, $100-150)
Canvas bag/small leather goods, $50-150
Good quality or made-to-measure oxford shirt, $150-250
posted by quosimosaur at 8:14 AM on November 16, 2012

Here are a couple of websites that might give you some ideas at the very least:
A.G. Russell Knives
Saddleback Leather Co
Not Another Bill
posted by Snazzy67 at 8:22 AM on November 16, 2012

Do you really need to buy him a thing?

How about a day of outdoor activity in a new place, a good dinner and a pair of socks?
posted by Heart_on_Sleeve at 8:28 AM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

If it's the aesthetic of the Eames lounge he covets and not the brand, good quality knock offs can be found on Craigslist fairly easily (at least in Los Angeles, ymmv) in that price range. My lady had always longed for one, and she was beyond thrilled to have a reproduction for her birthday one year. For another $75 or so (Christmas?) we were able reupholster hers in a cool blue fabric that she chose.
posted by justjess at 8:42 AM on November 16, 2012

A bottle of nice wine to go with a special dinner at home, or several bottles of young vintage port, to be put away for the future. I agree with the quality over quantity lifestyle, but encourage you to have savings and to prioritize experiences, like some really good wine, that you can share, more than things.
posted by theora55 at 8:49 AM on November 16, 2012

Junk is junk. I vote for consumables. Adults with jobs can more-or-less go out and buy what they need when they need it. Presents tend to be nick-nacky-space-fillers that nobody really needs.
posted by nickerbocker at 9:24 AM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

I have a bit of a horror of owning lots of rubbish stuff. My favourite presents have been:
1) Upgrades - a rain jacket that is light weight, wind proof and packs away to nothing!
2) Upgrades that replace 3 or 4 other things - an excellent, comfortable chef's knife replaces a number of other kitchen gadgets, an mp3 player that replaced my old cassette player (!!), portable CD player and portable radio.
3) Experiences - last christmas my boyfriend gave me a 'nice day out' of my choice, and we spent it cycling along a river.
4) Personalised things - we have two photo collages from trips we went on together and they get pride of place in the house. They will never be rubbish.
5) Consumables - magazine subscriptions, nice food etc.

What about something like really nice bed sheets? I know it's sort of a present for you too, but attractive and high quality sheets and towels are a real treat and can make you smile every time you use them. If you're ruthless about throwing out the things you're replacing then it also makes it easier to move . . .
posted by kadia_a at 10:02 AM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Another site to browse (I found them while looking for carbon steel Sabatier knives, but they have an odd assortment of other stuff, from antique Stanley planes to pewter tankards).

The Best Things

For the stuff I know anything about, their prices are more than fair.
posted by mr vino at 11:29 AM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Also, cast iron cookware. The old stuff was better than what you can buy new, and is not that expensive: $25 will buy you a nice frying pan in good condition.
posted by mr vino at 11:37 AM on November 16, 2012

Buy a board game and play with him one night a week.
posted by disconnect at 12:32 PM on November 16, 2012

I have no idea if this would be of interest (and it's a bit out of price range) -- but Mr. Vitabellosi really really wants (a new) DNA test through the National Geographic Genographic Project.

He did one side of his family in the past -- but they offer more info now, and he wants to do his maternal side, too.
posted by vitabellosi at 4:58 PM on November 16, 2012

Best answer: Set up an Eames Chair account at SmartyPig (or another online/offline account) and put the first $100 in towards the purchase. He might be touched to know that you really internalized the change in trajectory and are helping him towards those larger goals.
posted by judith at 9:14 PM on November 16, 2012

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