An interesting gift for Random Young Bachelor?
December 21, 2007 9:17 AM   Subscribe

Looking for gift ideas for A Single Guy, with essentially no other information. What to get my dad's wife's son for the gift exchange?

For our family gift exchange, we each give a gift to two people. This year, I'm giving to my dad's wife, and her mid-30s bachelor son. Gifting to my dad's wife isn't tough - she's very into cooking, and we share a lot of common interests. However, her son is a bit of an anomaly. I don't know him well at all. He lives in Aliso Viejo, in Orange County, CA, and I don't know that area well, so I can't think of any location-specific gift certificates that might be nice. He's currently unemployed, and lives in his mother's condo, while she lives in San Diego with my dad.

He seems like a nice enough guy, but trying to engage him in conversation always sort of reaches a dead end. I'm not very good at small talk, and he doesn't seem to have any specific hobbies or interests to speak of. He's just a sort of average guy, shaved head, medium-large build, and may or may not have a general sort of dude interest in sports and cars. I asked my dad for ideas, and this is all he could come up with:

· Cologne

· a dress shirt

· a tool (I can pick one out if you like)

· (His mom) is buying him a desk, so how about a desk accessory

· Something from Costco (I’ll check with (his mom) on our visit there tomorrow)

None of those really seem like great ideas. If possible, I'd like to try to get him something unique that he'd appreciate, that says I actually put some thought in to it. I know he feels as though my side of the family doesn't like him very much, although I don't think we've done anything specific to give him that impression. We've just never been very involved in each other's lives, which is making this difficult.

As far as budget, somewhere around $50 is probably good. Is this an impossible task? Should I just go pick out [insert random man-tool or cologne]?
posted by booknerd to Shopping (30 answers total)
The internets says this mall is 10 minutes away from Aliso Viejo.

From CostCo you could get a stapler, tape & tape holder, pens, note pads, etc. for $50.00.

(No cologne!)
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 9:26 AM on December 21, 2007

Best Buy gift cards go a long long long way.

Also, what about a prepaid membership to Blockbuster online? You can buy in one, three, six, and twelve month increments.
posted by santojulieta at 9:28 AM on December 21, 2007

How about a Japanese puzzle box? Bet he doesn't have one, and they're attractive and interesting. Like him. Heh.
posted by fish tick at 9:29 AM on December 21, 2007

My brother is equally difficult to purchase for. I picked up two cases of beer from World Market - American Microbrews and Beer from around the world which will probably be the perfect gift for him.

If they're not opposed to alcohol, a nice beer or bottle of liquor can be a great gift for those that enjoy that sort of thing.
posted by at 9:30 AM on December 21, 2007

Best Buy gift cards go a long long long way.

Except that, to use them, you have to go to (shudder) Best Buy.

What about an giftcard? Who couldn't find something they wanted at amazon?
posted by dersins at 9:30 AM on December 21, 2007

Yeah, no cologne or dress shirts. If he has a girlfriend, they should come from her; if not, he probably doesn't want or need them. Maybe Dad is trying to get the guy to clean up a bit.

Does he have a PC to go on the shiny new desk? If so, how about a wireless keyboard/mouse combo? Or a speaker set (thinking of something like this)?
posted by desjardins at 9:31 AM on December 21, 2007

I'm with dersins. Anyone on my list that is hard to figure out gets an amazon gift card.
posted by R. Mutt at 9:33 AM on December 21, 2007

Gift cards were invented for these occasions.
posted by racingjs at 9:38 AM on December 21, 2007

A massage.
posted by mpls2 at 9:44 AM on December 21, 2007

Gift cards were not invented for occasions when you're trying to be thoughtful and make people feel appreciated and welcome.

Can you make him a mix CD you think he'd like, or at least listen to? Giving that along with a gift certificate to a music store is a nice gesture, and obviously very thoughtful.

A funny book, or a classic DVD or box set? You can probably assume he doesn't have, say, the Die Hard set, and it's great, and include the reciept and he'll be a happy camper.

A gift basket of treats! GO to Trader Joes and just clear 'em out. Booze, Chips, Candy, whatever looks good. EVerybody likes snacks, and that's pretty personal. You can point out what he has to let you try! ;)

A Nice Hoodie would probably go over well.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 9:46 AM on December 21, 2007

Consumables are my default choice for the hard-to-buy for. The beer suggestion is good, as would be a bottle of whiskey or such. Gift certificates for a restaurant: $50 is perfect for a date dinner, or on a movie gift card. Alternately a pair of tickets to a sporting event may work, like a AAA baseball team or college basketball game if his mom can give you some idea what he likes.
posted by bonehead at 9:49 AM on December 21, 2007

I'd usually be with Ambrosia and tell you not to cop out to gift card. But in this case, I say, Amazon." Do not buy him cologne or a tool that you don't know whether or not he needs. If no-one can help you with any hint as to what he may like, the Amazon card will be the best bet.

(I feel the same way about presents from my cousins who do not know me well at all. Please don't pick out a scarf for me.)
posted by desuetude at 10:08 AM on December 21, 2007

Never buy cologne or clothing for someone you aren't close to. Really, never by cologne for anyone ever.

If he enjoys working with tools and there's something he really wants or needs, never underestimate the joy tools can bring. It'd have to be something he'd really like to have, though, not something as generic as one of those ratcheting screwdrivers with 100 different bits that always get handed out every year. Something like if he just got a new router and doesn't have many router bits to play with. It says, "hey, I took the trouble to find out what you like to do for fun and one thing you'd like to have to enhance that fun." If, however, this is just your dad saying, "I could get him, I dunno, some drill bits or something," then ixnay.

Beyond that, if booze is an option, then get him some good booze. You've got $50 to spend? You could get him a quite respectable bottle of scotch for that price. And that's a damn fine thing to open too, makes you want to crack the bottle on the spot and pass around some single-malt cheer. Find out what he drinks, though.

Really, though? Talk to his mom, not your dad. She knows better than he does what her son is into and wants. She'll give you good ideas for personal gifts, I bet.
posted by middleclasstool at 10:13 AM on December 21, 2007

Gift cards were not invented for occasions when you're trying to be thoughtful and make people feel appreciated and welcome.

True, but they were invented for occasions when you have no idea what a person does or does not like, and what they do or do not have. I mean, sure, the Die Hard Box Set might be a great gift for him. But he might already have it. Or he might hate Bruce Willis. And then he has to go the the trouble (and it is trouble) of returning / exchanging it.

(BTW, this might be a difference between men and women (and is certainly purely anecdotal), but most guys I know would rather get a gift card than something they don't want and have to return. Returning things is a hassle, especially during the post-Christmas insanity.)

Get him an amazon gift card already. If he wants the Die Hard box set, he can get it. If he wants a nice hoodie, he can get one. If he doesn't want those things, he gets something else.
posted by dersins at 10:14 AM on December 21, 2007

a Leatherman tool
posted by mattbucher at 10:15 AM on December 21, 2007 [3 favorites]

Tools are ALWAYS good, quite seriously. Decent ones last forever and are used even 20 years later. There are not many gifts that you can say that about.

I agree cologne and clothing are weak choices. I also find gift cards the height of laziness. "I cared enough not to think about this too hard".

Costco has a million things I'd love for gifts, from the geeky (portable hard drives, bluetooth mice, iPods) to the manly (ratchet sets, mag-lites, WWII DVDs), to the yummy (lots of gift-boxes of chocolates, smoked salmon, and so on).

Maybe I'm easy.
posted by rokusan at 10:22 AM on December 21, 2007

Unemployed people like to go to the movies, but cannot always go to the movies. Get him a gift card for Edwards cinemas, which has the most nice theaters in that area. I think telling someone to go to the movies on you is a nice and thoughtful gift.

I also second the idea to buy some hard liquor. Or an assortment of weird beers, like Arrogant Bastard.

You can also give Angels Bucks, since single-game tix are not yet on sale. But that's a little chance-y.
posted by Mozzie at 10:38 AM on December 21, 2007

If he enjoys working with tools and there's something he really wants or needs, never underestimate the joy tools can bring.


I like AV's idea of a mixed-up gift basket of treats. Get lots of different little things. It'll be fine if he doesn't like every last thing in it; it'll still be more fun than a gift card and he's bound to want some of it. Plus you can put it in an interesting container, not necessarily a basket.
posted by tangerine at 10:43 AM on December 21, 2007

(I actually like the desk accessory idea.)

As my friends and relatives will tell you, guys are tough to buy for and *single* guys are IMPOSSIBLE to buy for; even unemployed, it's safe to say that if there's something he's genuinely wanted that costs less than fifty bucks, he's probably already bought it for himself. Every bachelor Christmas gift goes into one of two categories: Stuff I Don't Want That I Will Get Rid Of and Stuff That's Sorta Okay I Guess That I Probably Won't Get Rid Of.

This might sound crass and mercenary, but honestly...if your only goal is to make him happy, I think the best gift you're gonna give him is a fifty dollar bill. But obviously you can't just pull out a fiddy and be all "Merry Christmas, dude," no matter how much of a relief that would be for both of you.

So the goal is something that approximates a fifty...which is an exceptionally long-winded way of saying that I emphatically second Dersin's suggestion of an Amazon gift card. Holy crap I might actually look forward to the holidays if I thought I was gonna come out the other side with a walletful of Amazon cards instead of a Regifting Drawer full of pen sets and hot sauce samplers.

I know it sounds impersonal, but you barely know the guy...anything you get him will be a shot in the dark at best. In a very real way, a gift card is the most thoughtful gift in this situation. It'll be your way of saying: "Hey, man, we don't know each other very well, so instead of giving you the same bougie Art Of Shaving gift set every brother-in-law, step-brother, and third cousin is unwrapping right about now, I thought I'd give you something you might actually look forward to using."

And then maybe start a casual conversation about what he might use it for, which will be a great way to find out about the sort of stuff he's interested in.
posted by Ian A.T. at 10:47 AM on December 21, 2007

I would also say a bottle of liquor. Mmmmm Maker's Mark.
posted by likesuchasand at 11:07 AM on December 21, 2007

mp3 player
collection of liquor mini-bottles
12 pack of funky beer
one hour massage
electric R/C helicopter

...but my favorite: eneloop batteries -- rechargable NiMH batteries that don't lose their charge over time (much). These absolutely rock. He'll never buy AAs or AAAs again.
posted by LordSludge at 11:12 AM on December 21, 2007

iTunes gift cards are great gifts for people in that age range when you don't know anything else about them. At least, I certainly enjoy getting them from my aunt.
posted by vytae at 11:31 AM on December 21, 2007

I'd also suggest a Leatherman tool. You can never have too many of them (e.g. one in the car, one at work, one for camping, one for under the sink, etc...).

I've given them for my groomsmen, family, friends, and they always get used.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 12:25 PM on December 21, 2007

Subscription to GQ / Esquire / Men's Health / Maxim?
posted by sevenyearlurk at 12:30 PM on December 21, 2007

a Leatherman tool

Yep, this is a perfect gift for guys who like tools, as I found out just last night. I bought one online last week for my boyfriend for Xmas, since he's been coveting them for awhile. It arrived two days ago; I happily wrapped it up and put it under the tree with the self-satisfied glow that only a well-selected present for your loved one can bring.

Last night I got home, and saw a Leatherman sitting on the dining table. (No, not an actual leather man. That would have been hilarious!) Turns out, bf saw them on sale somewhere and splurged on himself.

When my bugged eyes -- accompanied by the choking sounds emanating from my throat -- sent the message to that "YOU IDIOT, I ALREADY BOUGHT YOU ONE," he frantically assured me, "no, really, honey, I'll WANT to have two! They're great! And this one is just a knockoff brand anyway. Ha ha. Love you. Sweetie. Honey. Baby. Love!"

He's lucky he's cute, that's all I can say.

posted by scody at 12:36 PM on December 21, 2007

Actually, yeah, a leatherman would be pretty awesome to have. I wouldn't mind one, myself, though I doubt I'd personally use it all that much.

More I think about it, though, the more I think spendy booze could be a perfecter solution -- you say he feels like your wing of the family doesn't accept him? Well, if he's a drinker, sharing a snort of the good stuff with you and having a good, tongue-loosened chat over said good booze could go a long way toward healing that rift. If he appreciates the good stuff, that is. Otherwise he may just say thanks and tuck it among his other gifts.
posted by middleclasstool at 12:58 PM on December 21, 2007

What about a cool rock. This would look nice on his new desk, without being boringly utilitarian.
posted by nax at 1:03 PM on December 21, 2007

can you ask his mom what he might like?
posted by thinkingwoman at 2:26 PM on December 21, 2007

I've already got the pocket multitool of my choice, and I sure as hell don't need some kind of inferior one (did you know that some Leatherman models don't even include a corkscrew?). And I carry it in my pocket all the time, so I really don't need another one, either.

If there's any possible way that you can find out more about this dude (like, say, kinds of booze that he might appreciate), do that. Otherwise, I agree w/Ian A.T.: giftcard.
posted by box at 2:55 PM on December 21, 2007

If he uses tools at all - every person who uses tools could use another socket set. Metric, U.S., long sockets, short sockets - seriously. Craftsman, from Sears, with a gift receipt so he can take it back if he already has it. Craftsman is my favorite because they replace it free, for life, if it ever breaks.
posted by eleyna at 11:49 PM on December 21, 2007

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