Stress Free Santa: Gifts your boyfriend will love, that you can afford

!Calling all girlfriends near and far, on a budget or wanting to splurge!

While I was scrolling through social media this morning catching up on what all the night owls were up to while I slept, I came across a post that said “only 3 more Fridays until Christmas!” Before I could even verify that statement, my mind started racing as I was trying to think of how many gifts I had left to buy. I have since confirmed that there is in fact, only 3 more Fridays before Christmas, leaving a little over three weeks left to finish all gift purchases, and even less time to order online!

If, like me, you’ve been through enough holidays to nearly exhaust the entire wishlist that your boyfriend sent you but never updates, or maybe if you’re with a new guy and nervous about finding the right gift, I’m here to help! Here’s a few of my suggestions, from lowest to highest price, and a few ideas that put me on Babe’s ‘nice’ list in the last few years. Before I get into the main event though, here are a few….

HELPFUL HOLIDAY HINTS

First of all, the items I listed below for the most part have shipping under 14 days in North America/Europe, so if you see something you like, you should be able to get it in time for Christmas! Second, have you heard of Amazon Prime? Maybe? Probably? If you’ve shopped on Amazon and weren’t sure about the free 30 day trial, now is the time to give it a try. You can utilize their super quick shipping for tons of amazing things that Amazon sells, and not be charged for their yearly subscription so long as you cancel your membership before the 30 days is up! It’s a great time to try Prime, and maybe if you’re someone who is doing their Christmas shopping 3 days in advance, it would be worth investing in the membership year round.

I think a lot of people get overwhelmed during special occasions, either trying to find the perfect gift, or spend enough money, or find some gift that clearly sends the message of “I love you this much and more!”. Babe and I have been through a lot of holidays together, and have done the extravagant Christmas, the setting-a-limit-but-going-over-it-anyway Christmas, and this year, we thought maybe we’d save the gift giving in order to put our money towards a vacation or buying property this summer. Despite our best efforts, I still went home with memories of our trip to Barcelona and some Christmas gifts because Babe is the most wonderful and stubborn man I know. It really doesn’t matter though, whether you can spend $15 or $150 when it comes to gifts, because it is true what they say about it being the thought that counts. Babe has been more excited about an inexpensive book that I searched hard to find or the calendar I made with pictures of friends and family for while he’s away during the season, than a beautiful watch. So before you let yourself get stressed about overspending what’s in your budget, keep in mind that putting some thought into a gift will pay off more than putting some cash into it.

FAVORITES UNDER FIFTY

Your man does not have to be into reading for you to impress him with a good book. Buying a book can be both thoughtful and cheap if you do three simple things:

1. Determine his reading style/abilities: have you ever seen him engaged in any piece of literature? This includes the newspaper, magazines, articles online, picture books, novels, biographies, fiction, etc. If he enjoys flipping through picture books of cars, sports, architecture, and so on, continue to step two. If he enjoys reading long novels or learning through nonfiction, step two! If he reads the newspaper, articles on social media, and is a fan of any sports team or celebrity influencer, let’s keep going!

2. Pick a topic you know he loves: now that you have determined what type of literature he’s able and interested to read, pick a topic. You will be surprised to find that there are books on basically every possible topic, and that tons of famous people have published their own books. If he’s into cars, you can opt for easy reading like American Muscle Cars: A Full Throttle History, or a more in depth read about a guy he might admire like How to Build a Car: the Autobiography of the World’s Greatest Formula 1 Driver. My boyfriend loves to read, and when I investigated his book collection, I saw a lot of autobiographies and informative literature written by former athletes and coaches, and a few world champions. A lot of guys have personal heroes in the sports world, and it turns out, many of those heroes either write, or are the topic of books! I’m talking Gretzky, Tiger Woods, Gordie Howe, wrestlers like Bret Hart, and the list goes on. Last Christmas, I bought Babe Leave no Doubt: a Credo for Chasing your Dreams by current Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock. I bought the book because Mike Babcock was described as “arguably the best coach in the game today”, and because I thought a book about chasing dreams would be helpful for Babe during his season. I will never forget how impressed Babe was that I “knew who Mike Babcock is” (I didn’t) and that I knew how much he wanted this book (I didn’t). I simply picked one based on it being a similar length as his other books, and about hockey.

3. The content of the book should match his personal style. Going back to books on hockey, it seems like every hall of famer and at least two of their teammates have written a book. In order to make the gift thoughtful, take the time to read the back of the book and find out what it’s about. There are a lot of autobiographies out there, which is something I have never chosen for Babe because I know he prefers books that help him improve his own game, rather than learn about what it was like for others. So I try to find books that are focused on knowledge and motivation, rather than nonfiction facts. If he wasn’t so much into actually reading, I might opt to buy him a book like 100 Years, 100 Moments, that showcases shorter stories about the most impactful hockey moments, or Hockey Superstars, an up to date, picture filled book about the latest and most talented on the ice.

Does your man have any complaints about his own appearance, but never buys anything to fix his complaint? I’m talking about chapped lips, unruly hair, scratchy beard or razor burn from shaving, dry hands, or anything else that can be fixed by entering the cosmetic section of the drug store, where maybe he’s never been. Take the opportunity to show him you listen by finding a cool “just for men” product specific to what he said his needs are. This gift will go over well, because it’s something he will never buy for himself, and maybe is more trendy than the very practical and useful fix his mom found for him. Check out Sephora’s men’s collection that include gift sets like Lab Series which is skincare for men, the Jack Black Collection(this gift set is $65 but they offer individual and cheaper sets as well), and other brands with packaging tailored to appeal to men, that they might even get excited about! Sephora also ships very quickly, has free shipping in many countries for purchases over $50 and stores worldwide if you’re in a LDR like me, and you can pick out a bunch of free samples at checkout as stocking stuffers or for yourself! Another brand with free samples and free shipping (over $60) is Kiehl’s. Kiehl’s has a huge men’s section with all types of remedies specific to men’s needs. They also have a loyalty program so you can earn a free product! My brother got me hooked on Kiehl’s (their midnight recovery eye cream is bomb), so trust me when I say it’s a brand that guys will love!

If you live somewhere that gets a bit chilly, treat your bae to the perfect beanie. Places that sell the perfect slouchy beanie that your boyfriend may have never been to: Forever 21 (these beanies could definitely be sold as unisex, but since they’re not, it’s a secret between you and I that isn’t an important detail anyway… Also Babe I know you are reading this and yes, most of your favorite hats I bought in the girls section)… Little Burgundy, a store that in the mall in my city gets lost between the two bigger stores on either side of it, and Topman, which can be found in department stores like the Bay or online.

If you know that without you, your man is a lost cause for making himself a nice dinner every now and then, treat him to a local delivery service like Skip the Dishes. When I am not visiting Babe, his daily diet consists of chicken, veggies, eggs and protein shakes, and he doesn’t often switch it up because in all honesty, cooking for one is more time consuming than it is satisfying sometimes. So treat him to dinner in the comfort of his own home, and if you’re spending Christmas apart this year, try planning a cozy FaceTime date where you order the same kind of food, so it’s almost like you’re sitting across the table from each other (ah, the joys of long distance).

HOT BUYS UNDER ONE HUNDRED

Fact: more than one in six men own and overwear a pair of white converse sneakers. Okay so maybe I made that fact up, but I can honestly count on all my fingers and toes guys I know with white converse. If your guy is like mine and loves a classic pair of chucks, (take a peek at the tongue for his size first because converse tend to fit a bit odd) help him expand his palate with a new color of a shoe he already loves! If you’re worried he’s not interested in another color, opt for white, but in leather like this pair from the converse website as a warmer option in the winter. Men can often be creatures of habit, so getting him more of what he already loves can be a very good thing.

A gift for both of you: women seem to always make comments about the way the right pair of grey sweats fit men real nice…. These Roots Slim Fit Sweatpant are the comfiest pair you will ever want to snuggle up against (or in) while you’re hanging out at his place. Not only are these sweats super soft, they fit any mens body type well, and they are a well made product.

My boyfriend has an ever-growing watch collection, and almost every year since we met, I’ve bought him a new watch for at least one occasion. Although watches make a timeless (punny, I know) gift, they can be quite expensive if you are looking for a good quality and brand of watch. So if splurging on a fancy watch just isn’t in the budget but your boyfriend already has one or two, try a simple, but cool bracelet to match what he’s already got. I personally was surprised to know that Babe was even interested in wearing bracelets, yet a while back he told me he’d seen one with an anchor somewhere, and that he’d like one similar. I searched the ends of the internet to find such a bracelet for Babe, and then I stumbled upon Paul Hewitt. Confused as I was that my hockey playing, prairie living BF wanted to rock a sailor-inspired piece, I checked out this site and found some gorgeous bracelets (for both men and women!). It turns out Paul Hewitt is quite a popular brand, and while shopping in France I noticed that so many department stores carried it and tons of people were rocking these anchor bracelets or the PH watches! Anyway, the reason I like this brand is because the bracelets are made of great quality and you can customize the material and the colour, so finding one to look good with your man’s favourite watch is a piece of cake. Also, they are reasonably priced as they range from $49CAD to about $69CAD. The only thing to take note of is that the sizes are determined by centimetre, and are quite specific. Chances are, your BF has probably never measured this part of his body before (LOL), so an easy way to figure out which size he will need is to take a measuring tape to one of his watches, and measure the length of which hole on the strap is worn in from wearing that size. If he doesn’t wear a watch that you can measure but you want to keep it a secret without asking him to check the size himself, wrap something like a string from your sweatpants drawstring around his wrist when you’re snuggled up for a movie and tie a knot to remember how much string you used up to measure the circumference, and measure later. Once you’ve measured, round up and not down because the bracelets are made out of a firm leather or nylon and will not stretch to clasp it around the anchor. If you aren’t together to measure his wrist but want to take a guess, my own average sized female wrist was about 16-17 centimetres, my boyfriend who has big hands and thick forearms from hockey wears an XXL. I would say the average sized male would fit between a L-XXL (so good luck!!).

PRESENTS WITHOUT A PRICE LIMIT

If you’ve already committed to “one click buy” on Amazon to avoid seeing the damage you intend to do in order to spoil your bae, here are a few gift ideas that are worth working overtime for.

Somewhere along the line, I turned into somewhat of a personal shopper for all of the men in my life. One brand that seems to fit any guy really well when it comes to finding the perfect fitting jogger pant is Zanerobe. I first saw these pants on a small skinny dude at my university while he was walking ahead of me with the ZANEROBE tag visible on the waistband. I instantly looked them up online and loved the variety that the brand offered. Slightly worried about how they would fit my brother and boyfriend who are both thicc with muscular thighs on them, I found a cheaper pair in the sale section to use as my tester pant. When they arrived, I was ecstatic to find out they fit true to size, and look unbelievably good on literally any guy who wears them (like Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants, but for bros). Since then I’ve invested in a pair or two for both of them, and have found that the pants are probably worth the price, as they are great quality. With joggers being all the rage right now, this is a brand that you can’t go wrong with.

Staying on the topic of must-have clothing items for your man, another look becoming more and more popular in male street style is a sleek pea coat. Already hugely popular in France, I couldn’t walk more than 10 feet without seeing a guy rocking a beautiful coat paired with anything from dress pants to joggers to jeans. I bought this exact coat from Zara after searching to the ends of Rue Ste Catherine for the perfect fit. Zara is one of my favourite brands for both men and women, and they definitely kept up to my expectations with their line of men’s outerwear. Online there are dozens of styles to choose from, and they ship to most countries! I bought one size bigger than usual for Babe to make sure he could fit a long sleeve or sweater under it (bless Canada and their deepfreeze winters). Just beware, if you end up going for a jacket like this, prepare to watch your man check himself out in the mirror 20 times questioning if he can be the next James Bond, because pea coats have a way of making any guy look extra chaud. 

I must admit, I’m really behind on the times when it comes to technology updates. As of right now, I’m still getting iMessages from my friends with “? alien box” instead of “I” because I usually don’t bother updating my iPhone until the next update is available. With that being said, it’s hard to avoid the inevitable when it comes to iPhones- headphone jacks are a way of the past. Maybe your man has not yet buckled and sprung for an iPhone with portrait mode just yet (probably the only reason i’ll upgrade to a plus size), or maybe he has an Android phone (in which case dump him.. Just kidding, but i have no idea if Android has bluetooth/wireless so excuse my ignorance if this idea doesn’t apply to you), but if he does have bluetooth on his phone, how about knocking his socks off with a new pair of wireless earphones? Apple sells these Powerbeats3 Wireless Earphones that come in multiple colours and are super lightweight. Whether he likes to lift weights, run, walk, bike, hang out in a quiet space, you name it, these are a pair with great sound quality and a long battery for whatever he might get up to wearing them. Babe loves his pair, and I love that he looks like CIA when he has them on (kind of joking, not really). If your partner just splurged, or is thinking of investing in, a brand new iPhone, it’s a thoughtful way to lessen the blow when he realizes his previous $200 pair of earphones no longer can be plugged in to the most expensive thing he’ll carry in his pocket.

SUPER SWEET STOCKING STUFFERS

Last but not least, if you’re looking for a few quick things that will fit in his stocking or bulk up his gift bag, here are a few ideas that always seem to go over well:

  • Lip balm like Nivea for Men or whichever he likes to use (Babe loves EOS balls)
  • iPhone gadgets like an extra charger, a plug to use an iPhone cord in the car
  • His favourite junk food or candy
  • A gift card to his go-to coffee or lunch spot when he’s working
  • For travellers: useful accessories like an eye mask, passport-sized wallet
  • Replacing items that he loves but will never replace on his own (face wash he stole from you but doesn’t buy for himself, a worn down and coffee-stained laptop case, the same pair of sandals he has owned forever but practically have holes in the bottom)
  • Skip the Joe Boxers for your man and check out a brand like PULLIN for boxers he will actually be excited about
  • Gloves with sensory touch thumbs for using a touch phone in the winter
  • A tough looking to-go mug like this matte black Starbucks traveler mug (cheaper if bought at a Starbucks store, but since they no longer sell online, you can also buy them on Amazon)
  • A deluxe car wash gift card, good for both the neat freak (Babe), and guys who use their truck for work (Babe’s brother)
  • For a guy who likes a bit of sappiness: explore Vistaprint for anything from personalized calendars and mugs to full canvas prints, so you can design something adorable and lovey-dovey, or just something personal (you can’t tell me there is one person on earth who would not love a mug with their pet’s photo on it) exactly the way you know he will like it! I’ve used this company so many times and it is so easy to use, cheap, and ships quick!

‘Tis the season to count your blessings, so if you’re in the same city this holiday season, enjoy the greatest gift of all; each other!

Merry Christmas!

xx

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