ISO birthday gift ideas for relative/stranger
September 2, 2015 10:52 AM   Subscribe

I'm seeking gift ideas for a 30-year-old male I'll be meeting for the first time at his birthday celebration.

We'll meet on a camping/hiking trip with up to a dozen people there. There will be birthday celebrating/merrymaking of the outdoorsy sort. He is a soldier (now reserves), a mechanic, a guy who has his own gear, etc. So it's not like I would get him something he needs.

Of note: he's the adult son of the person I am seeing - we haven't met yet as he lives elsewhere. (Dad lives in between our two locations, and will be moving to my town soon. All easily drivable distances.) I'd typically give a gift from my town to someone who lives elsewhere. But that seems presumptive somehow in this situation.

I don't want to make a big deal of it but don't want to be empty-handed. The only thing I can think of is a gift card for a local craft beer shop - I've emailed them to see if that's even an option. I'd appreciate any other ideas though.
posted by headnsouth to Shopping (11 answers total)
Stainless steel growler(s)! You can get them at MEC or similar. They would be great for a craft beer lover, as they can be filled and refilled and taken camping. Small ones are $30ish.
posted by HoteDoge at 11:02 AM on September 2, 2015

Just bring something tasty (beer, wine, cookies, etc.) to the party. Anything more formally gift-y, including a gift card, might seem weird for that type of relationship. Bringing something good for the merrymaking aspect will likely go over well with everyone.
posted by witchen at 11:03 AM on September 2, 2015 [4 favorites]

In this situation, I like to go to World Market and find a big, weird beer. The weirdest one I can find. The gift card is nice, but you can't open and drink it right after receiving it!
posted by theraflu at 11:12 AM on September 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

Have you asked his father? A lot of giftgivers tend to try to give something novel and unexpected, but the evidence is that people like getting what they ask for. Ideally, you'd ask him directly, but it sounds like in this case the closest you'd get it is asking his dad.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 11:35 AM on September 2, 2015

Check with the dad whether this is actually a gift-giving occasion. I know it's human nature to try to be extra-kind to this person you're meeting who you hope to be important to you and your family, but I don't feel that a gift is the thing that will cement a good relationship, especially under the circumstances (mixed group of people, camping). Make your first impression with words and gestures, not gifts. If all goes well there will be plenty of other gift-giving opportunities in your shared future.

If it were me, I would just bring something for the party; since camping probably not beer/fluids, maybe chocolates, or cookies with a birthday theme. I'm kind of goofy, so I'd consider party goods - a paper happy birthday sign/banner to hang between the trees, or fold-flat birthday crowns/hats, or decorative streamers, something that is cheerful, and a funny thing to have in the woods, but actually not all that complicated to bring.
posted by aimedwander at 11:43 AM on September 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

Thank you so far for the suggestions - I like the weird beer one. I also thought of bear spray - they've been big news in our mountains this summer and IMO (trail-runner) you can never have enough bear-spray!

I appreciate the thoughts behind the "don't get a gift" comments - however, this is a gift-giving occasion - think traditional birthday, just outside. It's not a big deal but it is an "ISO gift ideas" question.
posted by headnsouth at 11:50 AM on September 2, 2015

Yeah, consumables hits the right spot. Beer, wine, or booze if he's a drinker, nice spices if he cooks, that kind of thing.

Alternatively, can you add a bonus to his dad's gift and have it be from the two of you?
posted by tchemgrrl at 12:11 PM on September 2, 2015

He probably has at least one of everything he needs, and maybe this is me, but I don't think you can ever have too many flashlights, and those are available at all kinds of different price points, with different features and stuff. (Make sure you also include appropriate batteries. Some take weird kinds.)

Also things that are described as 'tactical' often make good generic man gifts as well. I got my adult son a 'tactical spork' once and made an absurdly overengineered custom holster for it as a bit of a joke, and it ended up being a huge hit. I mean, don't make something for a stranger, because that would be uncomfortable, but you get the idea.

Or if you do the weird beer, maybe add one of these (lashed to the bottle with paracord, obvs), which are silly and probably superfluous, but cheap and kind of funny.
posted by ernielundquist at 12:33 PM on September 2, 2015

Weird beer in a camping-safe growler (a 64oz bottle) would be a big hit with that demo, IME. Alternately beer and SS pint tumblers (we've got some of these and their great). Not stuff he needs (and probably has), but camping-appropriate stuff that relates to things he likes. Amazon and REI have a bunch of choices for both.

The beer gizmo I'm lusting after is this one, but they aren't shipping until Christmas, realistically.
posted by bonehead at 2:36 PM on September 2, 2015

Do any liquor stores in your area sell mixed six packs, where they have a wall full of 12 oz bottles and you can pick and choose the ones you want? If so, go to that liquor store, pull a clerk aside, tell them you want to put together an interesting pair of mixed six packs, and let them go to town. Should set you back about $20, and I think for most beer guys it would be very well-received.
posted by craven_morhead at 7:49 AM on September 3, 2015

Just to close this one out, I got him two small camping-related things - a bottle opener/paracord bracelet & a solar-powered blow-up light. Thanks for the ideas, all.
posted by headnsouth at 2:33 PM on October 6, 2015

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