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Christmas Gifts For Men – A Leading Expert’s …


How to read a man’s mind to prevent buying gifts for him you’ll both regret…

Observed in a trendy Mayfair restaurant one Friday lunchtime: a thirty-something man was receiving a series of gifts from a clearly enamoured girlfriend.

Once the gorgeous wrapping came off, there was a boxed DVD set of Band of Brothers, a bottle of aftershave, a pair of Haivaianas flip-flops and some pants (admittedly these were Gucci, but underwear tends to be pants in every sense to most men).

All of which made me certain that however well acquainted she was with the innards of his bathroom cabinet (and if she wasn’t, she clearly wanted to be) the girl was perilously ignorant of his tastes in travel, TV or footwear.

So what should she have done before hoovering the high street in a hurry? Her selection positively screamed, ‘but they were near the door!’

Well, she could have stopped to consider one of the abiding principles of successful shopping for Christmas gifts for men and standing in his shoes (and we’re not talking flip-flops).

Now, I hear your cries of derision from here: all men are hopeless at communicating their desires and are usually hell-bent on pleasing themselves anyway, especially when it comes to buying that just-right single malt or cooler-than-thou cufflink.

Well, you’re wrong. The simplest thing to do when faced with a buying Christmas gifts for men is to follow the advice of business gurus, and think outside the box before considering what to put in it.

For example, men are continually advised to dress not for the job they currently have, but for the one they want. Take heed. Don’t buy gifts for him you already know he’d like (if he bangs on about Seinfeld, chances are he already owns the complete DVD boxed set).

The gift he really wants? Script-editing software for his iBook so he can pursue that comedy-writing dream. Or how about a Silverjet ticket to New York so he can stroll down the same avenue as his hero?

You could also try something that his bachelor kitchen is lacking. Tread carefully though; champagne flutes or shot glasses are likely to go down better as Christmas gifts for men than a chopping board will.

What I’m suggesting is this: rather than trying to match the present to the man you think you know, choose gifts for him that allow him to think you have an idea of who he wants to be.

Finding this out is the fun part. Invite him to spend an imaginary £1,000 on high street fashion (increasingly hard to do, so should flag up around 50 usable suggestions), or list the first five items he’d replace in his flat/bedroom/bathroom/kitchen/sitting room. From these you’ll soon establish his pecking order of priorities.

It’s tempting at this stage to indulge in a little personal retail therapy of your own, and finesse your findings until they match, by and large, your own tastes. Don’t, as nothing barks, ‘Your dismal flat totally needed a vase’ with a gift that says everything about you and very little about them.

My final piece of advice? Don’t say it with flowers. Ever.

deputy editor of gq bill prince is a member of the expert panel of style journalists and trendsetters who vet and select gifts for the handpicked collection, a website and catalogue featuring a selection of unique gifts for him.

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Listed: December 11, 2008 8:08 am