Gift giving is an expression of relational value. That means only one thing: that the gift reflects the nature of the relationship. It is both the easiest and hardest thing about gift giving. Easy with the people you know well, like how your roommate will appreciate the nod to his carnal and financial acumen when you re-up his 40-pack of condoms for 2013. Hard with people you don't know well, like that uncle who's starting to catch on to your scheme of just writing him a nice, impersonal letter. I can’t tell you what Uncle Jerry would like for Christmas, but I can give you a list of the 5 lamest gifts you could get for those kind of men that you just don’t know well enough. Hope it helps.
1. The Necktie –
Let’s get this cliché out of the way. It’s not your fault, but the Father’s Day necktie had been overly featured as the auto-gift for old men, so notoriously that the stench of lame cliché crosses holiday lines.
2. Customized Anything –
See flask, cufflinks, humidors, or anything else that makes a primetime groomsman’s gift. Personalization is for mass gifting at memorable events (like State Championship rings).
3. Consumables –
See cigars, booze, fruit cakes, or anything else that you distribute to neighbor’s and colleagues. These gifts reflect the forced congeniality of the relationship as their short life makes them inherently shallow.
4. Undergarments –
These should only come from a significant other, or the parents of a never-married manchild (I’m looking at you, mom!).
5. Cash –
Cash is to Christmas gifts what Jay Cutler is to NFL quarterbacks.
To help, here are three acceptable gifts for all of those any men in your life.
1. The Gift Certificate to a Nice Restaurant –
It takes the good intentions of "cash" and "consumables" and strikes just the right blend of effort and directions. And when I say "just the right blend," I mean it’s enough to get people to give a "that was nice shrug" without badmouthing you later.
2. Joseph A. Bank’s Dress Shirt –
Is this toeing the "undergarment" line? Maybe. But the big kicker is that the 90% chance that it’s "not quite the right fit" means he can turn it into a reason to hit up that "8 suits for the price of 1" doorbuster Joe Bank’s is having in January.
3. DVD Box Set –
Two infallible options: Rocky, Godfather. Even if a man hates either box set (stop laughing, maybe the guy woke up to a horse head in his sheets once), he won’t be able to act like it. If he does, he looks like the fool.
Now go out there and do right by all those men you don't really care enough to go out there and do right by.