Primer’s Annual Gift Guide for Guys

gift guide for guys

It's that time of year, when everyone from your girlfriend to your mom to your cubicle mate wants gift ideas for things you want. Coming up with a list of things we want isn't the hard part; I'll take a 3D printer, new Allen Edmonds, and a week in Norway – it's coming up with things we want in affordable gift ranges that makes this so difficult. If it's something we want, and it only costs $25, we probably would have just bought it for ourselves already, right?

That's where the Primer Gift Guide comes in. It's chock full of awesome stuff you'd love to have, but might not be able to justify shelling out the money for.

The gifts are categorized in price ranges so you can easily come up with ideas for your office Secret Santa from the under $30 range, or ideas for your girlfriend in one of the higher ranges. She's been begging for ideas since Thanksgiving, lets give her some.

What's Primer Approved?

On some of the gift ideas there's a small “Primer Approved” badge. This is a classification for some of the products I've tested hands-on and feel they're worth the money. Companies can't pay for this distinction: The product we used must have met both the advertised promises and our expectations.

gifts under $30

Guitar Wall Mount

For practically pennies you can change your old acoustic from a dust collector to wall art.

Head scratcher

Get your noodle's juices flowing.

Bad Bryan's Butt Rub

An all-purpose seasoning used by champion barbequers.

Tovolo King Cube Ice Trays

These large ice cubes are slow melting, perfect for your next Old Fashioned.

Wall-mounted bottle opener

Ditch the plastic keychain and install this die-cast zinc wall-mounted opener.

American-made cedarwood soap

What does an Irish spring smell like anyway?

ManCans Candle

A 13 year old boy had an idea: What if you buy a can of soup, donate it to a food shelter, and then make a candle with a “manly” smell inside the leftover can. Sounds pretty good to us.

Mr.Tea tea infuser

Bring the hot tub experience to your favorite Earl Grey.

Herringbone pocket square

A beautiful and easy way to class up any jacket.

Nicer socks

The devil is in the details, and nowhere is that more true than with personal style.

Reusable Metal Filter for Aeropress

Love your Areopress but hate the paper filters? Upgrade to this American Made stainless steel alternative.


Pick up a bottle of expensive smelly water. Here are 4 to consider.

Belt blanks

Give our easy DIY belt project a try for a nicer belt than you'd feel comfortable buying in a store.

Infared thermometer with laser

Sure, you'll probably just use it for the grill or to futz around with boiling water, but it'll be fun won't it?

Tightvac Vacuum sealed coffee container.

This unique coffee container creates an airt-tight seal, while also allowing the beans to vent CO2.

Houndstooth Tie Clip

At 1” this sharp looking tie clip will look great with a casual getup or a suit.

Charcoal and cinnamon knit tie

With a suit or a sweater, this beautiful tie will keep you stylish all year.

Bittercube artisanal cocktail bitters

These delicious Wisconsin-made bitters will spice up any drink.

Mountek Phone/GPS auto CD player mount

Fits almost any GPS or phone and slides into that unused slot in your dashboard. CD players…remember those?

13 Piece Professional Mixology Set

Get your home bar equipped properly.

Swiss Stays

One set of collar stays for all of your shirts. Swiss Stays are adjustable to four different sizes.

Industrial-style wall clock

A functional wall piece that also looks great.

Anker USB backup

A lipstick-sized USB backup for all your devices.

Dockers Grooming Set

The $.99 fingernail clippers from Rite-Aid did a fantastic job –  let them retire in peace.

Craftsman Ratchet

The holidays are the perfect time to build up your toolbox.

The Pleasures of Cooking for One

Just because you're on your own, doesn't mean you can't eat good food.

American-made magnetic lightswitch plate

Never forget your keys again – and your friends will think there's something wrong with your electrical.

Hardbound leather book

Finally have a place to put all those good ideas of yours.

Knockaround Sunglasses

A fun, stylish pair of shades at an unbeatable price.

A nice pair of underwear, for a change

Grab a pair of shorts that you won't be embarrassed to strip down to. Made in the US of A.

Label maker

New Year's Resolution 2014: Finally get organized.

Chefman Cordless Electric Kettle

Whether you're a sophisticated tea drinker or a nightly spaghetti eater, an electric kettle makes everything faster and easier.

Cedar hangers

Keep your clothing in shape and give your closet a better smell than your gym bag.

Treeline Woodworks Butcher Block

I don't think they ever clean those cutting boards that come built into the kitchen counter when people move out. Need I say more?

Merkur Model 180 Safety Razor

One of the finest starter safety razors at an unbeatable price.

gifts $30 to $50

Cuisinart 14 piece stainless steel grill set

You won't have to keep stabbing your steaks with forks with this nice grill set that packs away in an included case.

Flat wallet by TGT

Small enough to fit in your front pocket, big enough to hold everything you need. Made in New York.

Logitech wireless adaptor for Bluetooth devices

Control your tunes from wherever you are – wirelessly. Check out our review here.

Old Calgary Whiskey Wallet

Holds 3-5 cards with a beautiful Italian leather front and sturdy German felt backing.


A gun that shoots salt at flies…what else can I say?

Pandora One subscription

Sick of those cheesy localized commercials? Get the upgrade as a gift.

Leather watch strap

A new watch may be outside of the Secret Santa budget, but a new leather strap can revive an old ticker with a new style.

8 cup Chemex coffee maker

An incredible coffee experience with no moving parts.


Stop doing that weird “It's freezing when you get out of the shower” dance – get a bathrobe.

Engraved grooming set

Leave the plastic razors in the dorm.


Victorinox Chef's Knife

Use the right tool for the job with this highly rated chef's knife from the same makers as the Swiss Army Knife.

Monogrammed rocks glasses

The guy with his initials on the glasses doesn't have to pour the second round.

American Optics Square Frame Aviators

Still my go-to sunglasses all these years later. They look great on everyone.

Bespoke Post

A cool assortment of guy gear, right in your mailbox.


Stay hydrated on your outdoor adventures.

American-made test tube spice rack

Let's face it: Our cooking is always an experiment anyway.

Tailored flannel shirt

One can never have too much flannel.

gifts $50 to $75

Norelco 3 piece face and body groomer

I've always hated having to have 19 different shavers to do different things.

Alec Bradley Taste of the World cigar sampler

It's hard to learn what you like if can't compare it to something else.

Steel toolbox

Proper tools should have a proper home.

American-made horseshoe set

American-made for an American past-time.

1 TB external hard drive

You know what the best gift of all is? A back-up of every song, paper, and photo on your computer.

Star Wars Frames

After completing Episode III, George Lucas scoured the entire 6 film saga frame by frame to construct this beautiful retelling in the form of photography.

gifts over $75

Ben's Chili Bowl Half-smokes

No matter where you live, you can get DC's best dogs from the world-famous Ben's Chili Bowl. 16 hot dogs and 2 pints of chili sauce for $5 each – easier than braving downtown DC traffic.


A dashing watch at an affordable price.

Cuisinart 10 Piece Stainless Cookware Set

Take a look at the pot you use most. Are there scratches all over the non-stick surface? Do you find flakes in your food? It's time to upgrade, my man.


Having a place for guests to stay in your first couple years out of school is almost impossible. This air mattress is double-high and is more comfortable than a pull-out.

MIDI keyboard

Finally realize your full music potential with a computer and a keyboard.

J.Crew peacot with Thinsulate

You'll be just as warm as you are sharp in this classic coat from J.Crew

Microsoft Surface RT

The perfect transition from your mobile life to your desktop life.

Bike trainer

Stuck inside? Put that old 10 speed to good use.

Sig Sauer .22 Mosquito

A great starter pistol, or a smart way to shoot for less with this .22 from one of the world's greatest gun manufacturers.

This post may contain affiliate links, read about our editorial promise

Andrew is the founder and editor of Primer. He's a graduate of American University and currently lives in Los Angeles. Read more about Primer on our About page. On Instagram: @andrewsnavely and @primermagazine.


  • Reply December 5, 2013


    I’m jewish, but this is an amazing comprehensive gift guide. Cool Beans andrew.

  • Reply December 5, 2013

    Kevin J

    I would like to suggest in replace of or in addition to Knockaround, Midwest Shades Having owned both Midwest and Knockaround I can say that the quality on the Midwest Shades are way higher and at least for me they fit better the knockarounds fit a little small for my head.

    • Reply December 5, 2013


      Which ones did you get?

      • Reply December 5, 2013

        Kevin J

        I’ve had two pairs of the Frank the Tanks and one of the Baconater, which have super dark lenses, I really dig them and they are cheap for the quality.

        • Reply December 6, 2013


          Thanks, just ordered both of those!

  • Reply December 5, 2013


    I can vouch for the M-Audio midi keyboard. Works great with both Sibelius and Finale notation software.

  • Reply December 5, 2013

    BJ McGeever

    A good bottle of scotch for under $30? Unlikely. Heck, that bottle of Dalmore in the picture is $40+.

    • Reply December 5, 2013


      Sorry dr the confusion, the bigger images don’t fall within the price categories.

    • Reply December 8, 2013



  • Reply December 5, 2013


    Definitely agree with the AO pilots. They are one of my favorite pairs. I Was devastated when I lost my old pair and had to order a new pair right away. Well devastated may be a bit much, but still.
    Also agree with the merkur 180 razor. I started wetshaving 2 years ago and that is the first and only razor that I use. It’s a good starter razor. Some feather razors would be a nice addition with that.

  • Reply December 5, 2013

    Doug Davis

    I would like all of these please.

  • Reply December 5, 2013


    So much better than GQ’s Gift Guide. Good job.

    • Reply December 9, 2013


      Agreed x100.

  • Reply December 5, 2013

    Paul Sousa

    These openers make awesome gifts. I know the craftsman and these are well made, look great, and function perfectly.

  • Reply December 5, 2013


    Hands down the best gift list I’ve seen yet. Stylish, thoughtful, and affordable. Very well done!

  • Reply December 5, 2013

    Steven Stone

    Just saying thanks for the work Andrew. You always do a great job and I enjoy just about every post.

    • Reply December 5, 2013


      Thank you! I really appreciate it.

  • Reply December 5, 2013

    Leroy Dankins

    As far as the underwear are concerned, I HIGHLY recommend checking out Undertech boxer briefs if you can find some. One of the best clothing purchases I’ve made, and 2 pairs can be had for a paltry $15.

  • Reply December 6, 2013

    Adam Brewton

    Several things on here I want. Great job! I’ve never tried the Mosquito, but I owned and carried 2 different Sigs when I was in LE, and they are, hands down, my favorite. As for things I’d use daily, that houndstooth tie bar and herringbone pocket square are being sent to the wife right now so she can add them to the Christmas list.

  • Reply December 6, 2013


    Microsoft Surface RT?

    Really? I highly suspect Primer was paid off for that recommendation.

    • Reply December 6, 2013


      Not at all! I’ve got one.

      • Reply December 7, 2013

        Brandon Johnston

        I am using one now and I absolutely love it…I got it on black Friday…it’s like a hand held personal computer

  • Reply December 6, 2013

    Sean S

    FYI – Wal Mart has 30 wooden hangers for $30. Not cedar, but still an upgrade from plastic! Search their site for “Wood Hangers W Bar 30 Pack”

  • Reply December 6, 2013


    Kudos on one of the best men’s-style gift guides I’ve ever seen. I love the sheer variety of items you’ve chosen while still maintaining a fairly cohesive aesthetic.

    One thing that stood out a bit simply because the rest was excellent: the three pairs of boots you chose are all basically the same boot with regard to both design and price point. Maybe a standard Wolverine/Red Wing, a wingtip boot (Allen Edmonds? Florsheim?), and a Sorel-style waterproof winter boot for the next guide?

    Again, bravo.

  • Reply December 7, 2013


    Great list! How can I get the Treeline cutting board for 30 bucks? With the 20% discount its $44.

  • Reply December 7, 2013


    Is there a gift guide for women in the works? I can’t figure out how to out do the kindle I got her last year.

  • Reply December 8, 2013

    David Bjerke

    Must agree with everyone else, great guide. I have a hard time putting lists together for family and this is definitely a help.

    Really love the industrial wall clock. I’ve been needing one for a while and this one looks like it will do the trick. If anyone comes across a similar item that’s available for purchase online, please reply to my comment. My family is all in WI and probably don’t want to drive 2+ hours for a $20 clock…

    Thanks as always Andrew!

  • Reply December 10, 2013


    I’d be worried about MVMT watches. They’re a brand new company and their creators have been VERY sketchy about the quality/craftsmanship of their watches. Every time someone asked a question about the quality or craftsmanship in one of their many Reddit AMAs they would ignore the question. They may wind up being nice watches in the end, but I would wait until next Christmas perhaps until we hear how they hold up.

  • Reply December 11, 2013


    Andrew! Quick! Do you have a Primer certified women’s gift guide? I’m running out of ideas!!

  • […] Primer Primer’s Annual Gift Guide for Guys […]

  • Reply December 16, 2013


    Awesome list! I wish there one one of these for “Gifts for her.”

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