Secret santa gift ideas for a limited budget and expensive tastes
December 7, 2015 3:03 PM   Subscribe

For secret santa this year (30 dollar limit, I don't mind going 10 over) I drew a friend who tends to: a) buy most of what he wants anyway and b) have fairly expensive tastes. I'd tag his main areas of interest as A/V equipment, liquor and beer, cigars, and playing guitar. He also has an interest in Germany (his family is from there) and Baltimore (especially sports). I need some ideas for stuff that isn't redundant if he already has it, or which is unique enough to avoid that problem.

My easy option is a nice mid-shelf bottle of bourbon. Recommendations on what's a steal / what's trendy would be appreciated. In addition to Bourbon he also really likes different types of gin.

I think A/V equipment is out of the question out of hand, due to price, but maybe I'm missing something.

He like cigars, but isn't an afficianado. Accessories might work, but reading other cigar gift questions on here leads me to believe this isn't a great choice.

Place based gifts would also be potentially cool... I think I know essentially what his preferred style is for decor / knick-knacks, but I'm not sure I could get something decent for that price range.

Thanks to /Ask for any help! You guys have been a great secret santa gift resource in the past, especially for a similar question last year for the guy's best friend, who's fairly similar.
posted by codacorolla to Shopping (27 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I think the Chromecast audio is only $35 in the USA.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 3:12 PM on December 7, 2015 [3 favorites]

pop chart lab has some nice mixology, beer types, whiskey related prints here that fall in your price range. they are pretty well done (i have their grand taxonomy of rap names.).
posted by koroshiya at 3:13 PM on December 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

Mid-shelf bourbon is a solid idea. It's also worth noting that for under $30 you can get a single bottle of almost any beer on earth, including some really amazing, kind of rare ones. If you memail me with any specific styles of beer he likes I can make a few specific suggestions.
posted by Itaxpica at 3:21 PM on December 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

Maker's Mark Bourbon Balls. Maker's Mark is excellent bourbon and this puts a twist on just a bottle. Here is a box from Cellar Door that's $25.00

AH! I have it! Mint Julep Cups!

There is also beer that's been in Bourbon Barrels, that might be fun too!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 3:25 PM on December 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

Gin made in Baltimore, maybe? This Reddit thread has some other options.
posted by jaguar at 3:26 PM on December 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

I was going to suggest sake from craft brewers such as Saké One in Oregon (their online store). Or distilled liquor, including gin, from North Carolina: Top of the Hill Distillery, online store.
posted by needled at 3:26 PM on December 7, 2015

Best answer: You might consider bottled in bond bourbon. I recently read this article, and went out and tried a few, and was absolutely blown away by how good they were. It was a serious eye-opener. I especially liked the Henry McKenna.

This would be well within your budget, but is interesting enough that I think any serious bourbon drinker would be interested.
posted by OrangeDisk at 3:41 PM on December 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

Yeah, $30 lets you pretty much call your shot when it comes to beer, but the more expensive bottles tend to be strongly-flavored, putting them into the "love it or hate it" category for most beer drinkers. If you know he likes a certain style (e.g, IPAs, Belgians, traditional german beers) we can probably help with some specific recommendations.

I'm a fan of W.L. Weller for the price point you're looking at. And here's the nice makes-a-nice-gift tie in: it's basically Pappy Van Winkle that didn't quiiiite make the cut to be Pappy. So it's as close as you can get to something that's very rare and very expensive, and it's way cheaper. Check here for further reading.
posted by craven_morhead at 3:46 PM on December 7, 2015 [5 favorites]

A couple bottles of interesting bitters.
posted by mollymayhem at 3:47 PM on December 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: There are some companies that make boutique guitar picks. If he plays guitar and hasn't already discovered these they'd be great.

Timber Tones -- Wooden and metal picks

Epic Grip -- Titanium picks starting at $12

V-Picks -- ergonomic plastic picks

I have all of these and they're fun to play for a change of pace. The titanium one is surprisingly useful and I play with it all the time.
posted by mmoncur at 3:47 PM on December 7, 2015 [3 favorites]

Go to a cigar store. Buy him an awesome cigar. They can get quite pricey. He'll love it.
posted by bearwife at 3:48 PM on December 7, 2015

Depending where you are, I recently went to a whisky tasting night in Seattle that only cost about $20 for four different bourbons, including discussion of the manufacturing process and history of the company from one of their sales reps (very knowledgeable!) I've also done a similar gin night in New York - if you're in a major city, it should be possible to find a decent tasting event.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 3:48 PM on December 7, 2015

For something a little different, you might consider a good bottle of Rye rather than bourbon. Redemption Rye is good, and should be in your price range, if memory serves.
posted by frumiousb at 3:49 PM on December 7, 2015

As someone who is into both liquor and a/v equipment, I'd much rather have a bottle of bourbon than a Chromecast Audio. Almost anyone who is into a/v is going to have a way to stream to their system by now (and IMHO the Chromcast Audio isn't a very nice way to do it in a high end system). But I can always use more good bourbon to drink, even if I already have a lot.
posted by primethyme at 3:53 PM on December 7, 2015 [3 favorites]

Oh, and on the bourbon front, you cannot go wrong with Basil Hayden or Bookers or Knob Creek or Makers Mark 46 or another small batch bourbon. Get a smaller sized bottle to stay within your price limit.
posted by bearwife at 3:54 PM on December 7, 2015

Ignore any recommendation for whiskey stones (cubes of rock intended to replace ice).

I concur in the above recommendations for a bottle of whiskey. If you want to make it a bit more special, go for a cheaper bourbon like Bulleit and add two nice old fashioned/rocks glasses.
posted by JackBurden at 4:13 PM on December 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

In the spirit of keeping things in the prescribed price range how's about a few bottles of beer aged in bourbon barrels?
posted by phil at 4:26 PM on December 7, 2015

I love gin (a bottle of Hendrick's is always a welcome gift, though I also like trying other fancy gins), but I've never explored boutique tonics. I think that would make a cool and affordable gift for a gin enthusiast.
posted by katie at 4:31 PM on December 7, 2015

I came in to recommend W. L. Weller 12, so I'll second that. In recent years, it has gotten a little scarce so it will be something he can't just buy anytime, anywhere. Our Costco usually gets it around this time for $25-$28, other places usually have it for $30-$38. You may need to call a good local liquor store and have them save you a bottle when it comes in. It's basically all my husband will drink anymore -- we have to stock up at Christmas.
posted by Night_owl at 5:12 PM on December 7, 2015

I'm seconding novelty guitar pick. Here are some from uncommon goods
posted by slipthought at 5:13 PM on December 7, 2015

Red Ryder BB Gun
posted by bricksNmortar at 5:51 PM on December 7, 2015

No beer drinker has ever said upon receiving the gift of a few beers, "ugh, I already have a beer." I'd hit up a place with a good selection an useful help to help me pick a few small market gems from outside your local area. There are so many that most of us never try.

If you were in the Twin Cities, I'd tell you to go to Elevated, since they are great at recommending stuff that is less well known.
posted by advicepig at 7:18 PM on December 7, 2015

A DIY Guitar Pick Punch is ideal for guys who play the guitar. They can take any old credit card and turn it into a pick. $25.00 plus shipping (minus holiday offers) on
posted by myselfasme at 8:47 PM on December 7, 2015

A tshirt from Cafe Hon.
posted by brujita at 10:02 PM on December 7, 2015

I'd go with the Gin.
There are so many different gins that so long as you go sufficiently outside the mainstream you're sure to hit on something he hasn't tried before.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 3:02 AM on December 8, 2015

Why not custom guitar picks? Make them unique and reflect something about him? I'd love it if someone did this for me. Great way to make something personal, but not cost a fortune.
posted by liquado at 5:51 AM on December 8, 2015

Response by poster: I ended up going with a bottled in bond Henry McKenna 10 Year, and the wooden guitar picks. He seemed to really like both, even if he does have an extensive bourbon collection already. He wasn't aware of wooden guitar picks and seemed intrigued by them. Thanks for the suggestions!
posted by codacorolla at 12:28 PM on January 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

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