6 Dumb Gifts for Guys – and 6 Smart Ones

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Finding the perfect gift for a guy isn't easy, we know. But don't beat your head against the wall or make a wild guess – try these. And if all else fails, just ask.

On Friday, we told guys some of the worst gift ideas for girls. Ladies: It’s your turn.

This advice can only be a generalization, of course – hopefully you know the men in your life a lot better than we do. But in the video below, Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson shares some of the gifts he definitely doesn’t want to get. Check it out, and then read on for a few suggestions.

We get it. We’re hard to shop for. So here’s a recap of our hunches about what guys don’t want to see under the tree, from experience…

  1. Keychains. Women have purses, filled with many wonderful and convenient things to have on hand. Sometimes that makes keys hard to find, so a keychain helps. Guys, though – we have pockets. All that’s usually in them is a wallet, keys, maybe our phone or some loose change. We’re not going to lose our keys, and we don’t want weirdly shaped plastic poking our thighs.
  2. Things “As seen on TV!” Generally speaking, we’d rather see it on TV and chuckle than own whatever wacky contraption those late-night commercials are hawking. As Stacy suggests, if it were anything more useful or worthwhile, it would probably be seen in stores, not just on TV. And it wouldn’t need someone describing it by talking way too loud and way too fast.
  3. Shoes and clothes. Like Stacy says, clothes aren’t fun for most guys. And while I’m lucky enough not to get a tacky tie every year, I know some guys who do. It is true we probably don’t buy new clothes often enough – I’ll wear my favorite jeans until they’re rags, and I’d wear my loafers until they fell apart if my parents didn’t buy me new ones every year. But fun? No.
  4. Artwork. There is a lot of ugly “art” out there, and it can be harder to tell our taste in this area, since we don’t wear it around. Unless the guy’s expressed a specific interest, take him with you when shopping for art – or he might end up hanging something he hates, like Stacy did.
  5. Jewelry. Shocker: Not a big thing for most guys. If you don’t see them wearing it, the reason is usually because they don’t want to or that they never considered it – and probably the former. If they’re willing to try, think simple, and probably silver.
  6. Cologne. I feel obligated to add this one, even though Stacy didn’t mention it. I don’t wear cologne every day – I consider being freshly showered enough. And that’s why I have eight full bottles of cologne and several samplers in my bathroom cabinet. I don’t need any, much less any more.

What guys do want

Frankly, I don’t care about a lot of stuff guys are “supposed” to like, including sports and cars. I’m sure some guys feel the same about video games and geeky tech stuff. But here are some ideas, including what Stacy mentioned…

  1. Power tools. Let’s get the most cliche idea out there first – some guys like to build or fix things. If you know that’s the case, this is probably a safe bet. And if you’re not sure exactly what to get, a gift card for Lowe’s or Home Depot is close enough. (The National Retail Federation says 58 percent of adult consumers specifically want gift cards for Christmas.)
  2. Video games. If you know what a guy already has, it’s not hard to figure out what he wants. Just like movies, games have genres and sequels. Remember what system they play on and a few of the titles, then run them by a game store employee or fellow gamer for some ideas. If you see a version of a title that says “Game of the Year,” that means it has all the bonus content that came out after the initial release, not that it’s the coolest game ever. (Though it’s usually popular games that get GotY re-releases.)
  3. Toys. Yep, boys love their toys. Try remote-control helicopters – my brother-in-law loves them, and I got one for my dad on Father’s Day that he likes too. But you want one with a little weight that can take a beating, so make sure to get one with a metal frame, not plastic. They usually go for about $50, and run for about 15 minutes when charged – so you don’t have to worry about him going off for hours as he might with a video game. Other gadgets he might like? Browse around ThinkGeek.com for all kinds of fun things like LED umbrellas and credit card light bulbs.
  4. Computers and upgrades. This stuff can get pricey fast, but buying it piecemeal is cheaper and smarter since most electronics get outdated in about two weeks anyway.  A tablet, nice speakers or headphones, a bigger monitor – these are cheaper than buying a whole new system, and likely to be appreciated even by people who don’t live on their computers.
  5. Sports tickets and gear. If your guy’s a big fan of any particular team, there are practically endless merchandising options. Pretty much anything you can think of probably comes with the sports colors or logo you’re looking for, from car ornaments to chairs, kitchenware to garden gnomes. And if you feel you’ve exhausted your options there, you can always buy tickets to a game.
  6. For you to ask. If you can’t figure out what we want, I doubt most guys are bothered by being asked. We might shrug and say we don’t know, but then it’s our own fault if we get something lame, right?

As we mentioned with Friday’s story, we’re looking for your worst gift ever stories. The best will win a Money Talks News T-shirt!

Stacy Johnson

It's not the usual blah, blah, blah

I know... every site you visit wants you to subscribe to their newsletter. But our news and advice is actually worth reading! For 25 years, I've been making people richer without making their eyes glaze over. You'll be glad you did. I guarantee it!


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