Mary’s Gift Guide For the Guys In Your Life

So I’ve been seeing lots of gift guides popping up around the internet. And I invariably click on them. And sometimes I get good ideas and sometimes I’m plain bored. And then generally I give myself a pat on the back because I think I have come up with some pretty great ideas over the years. And then I sigh because I have to come up with ANOTHER great idea for this year. First world problems, I know.

The end result is I decided to share my wisdom with you, dear blog readers. Hopefully this blog will provide inspiration (for now or future gift giving occasions!)

Backstory: I’ve been dating my boyfriend for six years. This list is all made up of gifts I’ve actually given him. I feel like that’s the most useful type! Since we’ve been together for a rather long time, there’s a lot of options and a range of budgets represented.

I titled this as a gift guide for guys because that’s whom I’ve bought these gifts for – but I never give anything I wouldn’t be excited to receive myself!

1. An antique map. This is one of my favorites. For one thing, it can suit a whole range of budgets. You’d be amazed what you can find for under $50. And if you are feeling generous… well then there are even more awesome possibilities!

Sources: Well, the internet is pretty great. Thanks Al Gore. Etsy is easy starting point. Then I’d check local stores – because it really is more fun shopping in person.

This road map of Travis County (home of Austin) doesn’t include I35! Fun! And it’s $25 on

In New York, Argosy Books on 59th street is a magical, magical place. The second floor has loads of antique maps and prints – and the prices there are better than what you’d find in a more curated setting downtown.

This 1864 map is $450 but awfully cool (found on the Argosy books website)









In Cambridge, MA, I’d recommend Ward Maps on Massachusetts Ave. It’s much more organized and curated – and it’s got all sorts of great gift ideas.

Budget Alternative: Get a new print made of an old map – or a place with some sentimental value. From you can order a reproduction print of all sorts of maps for under $20 or even get coasters made!

You can order an 8.5 x 11″ print on fine art paper of this Houston map for $14.95 from – there are of course more traditional alternatives too!










2. Bar Stuff – I’d say barware, but I really see this as an open field. A couple years ago I went to this store (again in Cambridge) called The Boston Shaker. They sell an intro kit, but you can also wander around picking out pieces. So I got my boyfriend a shaker, a stirrer, a strainer, a super cool ice tray, and three types of bitters. Voila. Best. Girlfriend. Ever.

But really you can put together any combo you’d want. This gift can be complicated or relatively inexpensive. And super cool. Also, no need to go all craft cocktail shopping. Amazon is your friend!

$12.95 from Amazon and you’re well on your way












3. An overnight bag – I went nice on this one, but then never got it monogrammed. Oops. But there’s a lot of room to maneuver here.  I think he’s used that bag more than anything else I’ve ever gotten him… Although I kind of want to get him a cooler one now, but the one I chose originally is super sturdy. I might have done too well.

4. A Plane Ticket – In my case, I gave him a plane ticket to see his friend from college who lived relatively nearby (but a flight away) whom he had never made it to visit before. Actually, I bought an airline voucher then applied it myself once he chose a weekend. Not the most graceful, but it made him actually plan that trip! Best. Girlfriend. Ever.

5. Cookies – Feeling like spending less? I generally don’t do handmade anything (the one time I experimented it was a major failure). But homemade cookies have weirdly become a thing with us. Specifically these. You don’t need the fancy chocolate, but the salt is key!

6. An Ironic T-Shirt a la Marcus Flutie – my boyfriend giggled when he saw this one  on the street one time, so I got it for him one year. He only wears it to concerts - this is his version of hipster – but still, a success!










7. Dr. Who Sonic Screwdriver Toy- While we’re going dorky, I might as well throw this one into the mix. Toys are an entirely underrated genre of gifts these days. Embrace the fun! Also: is an amazing, amazing gift resource. Firefly fans, we’ve got you covered too!

If you are giving this to a Dr. Who fan, try to find the sonic screwdriver for that person’s favorite doctor! It’s all in the details…










8.  Ski Jacket – splurge category! But I thought this was a pretty cool idea one year.









9. A Camelback - In a similar oh-so-sporty vein, does he enjoy active pursuits outdoors? If he doesn’t have a camelback, you should rectify that immediately. There’s a special kind for skiing. And in the $30-$50 range, this is a great medium budget option. (By the end of the list y’all will know my boyfriend awkwardly well!)

10. Alcohol – okay, this one does come up on a lot of gift guides. But it’s all about the circumstances. My boyfriend was away on a bachelor party for his birthday this year so I sent him a bottle of scotch. Done and done. I personally like Macallen, but really I just personally like to have a scotch preference.









I also did a bottle of wine he’d mentioned liking in passing once. More thoughtful, less cool. And I promise my boyfriend is not a boozehound!

Other gifts I’ve given at various and sundry times (a pocket camera – I highly recommend the Canon S100 if you think this is a good idea and don’t have time for research!), headphones (you can do so much better than those apple earbuds!), a monogrammed cooler (that’s a thing, who knew?), and a ukelele.

I’ve given millions of books I feel like – and of course this IS a book blog – but I am going to shy away from those suggestions because books are so personal! I just couldn’t resist adding my own two cents to the gift guide universe!

Now, the real question: do y’all have any good ideas to add? I’m still in shopping mode!