How do you gift?
Do you start looking for inspiration months ahead of the holidays and build a careful list?
Or are you a gonzo gifter, blitzing shops, Amazon, and gift guides at the last minute?
Whatever your style, one of the very best things about holiday shopping is the time-honored tradition of self-gifting.
Be honest. Who hasn’t picked up one or two choice items for themselves in the midst of shopping for friends and loved ones?
Some of my friends admit to it, but guiltily, like the holidays are just about selfless generosity. I reject that. I argue the holidays are actually one of the best times to shop for yourself. What’s my reasoning?
First, it’s efficient: you’re already browsing and will probably come across an item, service, or experience without any dedicated effort.
Second, the holiday shopping months feature the biggest deals and discounts of the year on lots of things that are not only perfect gifts, but that we wear or use in our own lives. When you zoom out and get passed the idea that you're ‘supposed' to be shopping for other people, you realize it's prudent spending by nabbing a few deals for yourself along the way.
Self-gifting should be about those functional goods and services that will make a huge improvement in your life, especially if they’re a bit of an investment because they'll be the cheapest they are all year. So check out five of our picks below:
Primer Partner Pick:
1. Upgrade Your Underwear
Underwear is a highly personal item and it can get expensive, which makes it perfect for self-gifting. Besides, what guy wants to ask his mom for underwear at Christmas?
Underwear is the most important part of your wardrobe most people never see, and that means it’s easy to neglect. But that doesn’t mean you should.
Comfortable, durable underwear that still retain their fabric elasticity equals all day comfort because they won’t bunch, scrunch or sag like a pair past its prime.
Quality drawers also bestow the confidence you get knowing your intimate regions are well represented, sartorially-speaking, if your date (or relationship!) is going well.
Let’s get realistic: How many pairs of tired, frayed, overstretched-at-the-waistband undies that should only be kept for emergency laundry day, do you have in your daily rotation at the moment? If the answer is more than one, it’s time to cull the herd and upgrade.
Upgrading, however, can be painful. Unless you’re a cleanliness maniac – or have an $800 laundry-folding robot – you need 10+ pairs to see you through a typical week of work, gym, and sleep. The number rises if you practice the 2-a-day rule: fresh pair in the morning and a fresh pair after a workout. Upgrading your entire stock gets expensive, which is why we love the membership at MeUndies.com.
Signing up nets you a new pair of undies every month at 33% off the regular price. Add in free shipping, 90-day returns (also with free shipping), and member perks and the MeUndies membership is a competitive way to refresh your stock piece by piece. Set it, forget it, always have nice underwear.
The standout MeUndies feature is the ability to pick your build (Boxer Briefs, Trunks, Boxers, or Briefs) and then have fun with your colors (Classic, Adventurous, or Bold). MeUndies is always adding to their Adventurous and Bold color options, and it’s great to be able to inject some personality into your underwear choices.
Add to that premium super comfortable micro-modal cotton and quality construction that means your undies will keep their integrity for a long time to come.
2. Proper Running Shoes
Do you have the right athletic shoes for your biomechanics and fitness application?
Unless your answer is something like, “I’m a heel-striker with moderate pronation who feels best in a medium-supportive shoe,” probably not.
Dr. George Lane, a board certified Podiatrist, points to improper shoe fit, overwear, and poor shoe construction as a leading cause of running injuries. The same is true of cross-training and gym applications. How many times have you seen a guy on the treadmill in Chuck Taylors? His knees won’t be thanking him at 50.
Luckily, the science of shoe fit and build materials has come a long way. The majority of shoes have a max lifespan of about 500 miles, which is easy to log even if you’re not a dedicated runner. And any signs of excessive wear – or joint aches and pains – mean its time to trade them in.
So for this pair, invest the time and cash in a pair of running shoes that’s best for your body and activity.
Most dedicated running stores have the equipment to perform gait analysis, determine if yours is neutral, pronating, or supinating, and recommend the right kind of trainer for your biomechanics.
They can also break down the different tiers of shoe, and looking at dedicated running shoe brands like Brooks, Mizuno, New Balance, and Asics will add a bit to the price but a lot to the quality. The trick to saving on running shoes is that…they're all kind of ugly anyway. Buy what works for your body, even if that model is a couple of seasons old, on Black Friday clearance, and looks like something Steve Jobs wore to work.
3. Find Out Your Ancestry (And More)
23andMe pioneered at-home genetic testing kits and in the process picked up a lot of buzz – so much so there’s a sub-genre of Youtube videos featuring people revealing their ancestry.
Apart from the (potentially) surprising and definitely interesting insights into your heritage (which will set you back $50), springing for the in-depth $200 Health & Wellness package opens up a whole suite of useful information.
23andMe reports on 5+ genetic health risks (like Parkinson’s), if you’re a carrier for 40+ conditions (like Hereditary Hearing Loss), and 15+ “fun ones,” like your biological tendency for unibrow-ism.
It’s the perfect balance of insightful and practical – you have a conversation piece for the holiday meal and data you can use to plan your healthcare for decades to come.
Normally priced at $99, 23andMe is currently running a holiday promotion where you get 2 kits for only $49.
4. Refresh Your Gym Bag
The nylon bag you had in college isn’t cutting it any longer. A waxed canvas or leather duffle provides lifetime durability and a more professional, polished look that says you’re to be taken seriously at the office and the gym.
With a little research, Primer has uncovered some of the best deals to be found on Amazon, including this robust under $50 waxed canvas duffel from S-Zone.
Of course, you can always upgrade further (check out our Guide to Weekenders Under $125), but a refresh on your gym bag is a versatile, useful self-gift for the holidays.
5. Stock Up On Sweaters
You've no doubt received many a sweater over the years as holiday gifts.
You may have assumed it was because Aunt Dorothy or your college girlfriend or whoever was trying upgrade your closet or improve your style.
But that's not the real reason.
In the run up to the holidays, sweaters are discounted more than any other time during the year. You can easily find well made knits for under $40, and if you're being a diligent self-gifter while you're out making your holiday shopping rounds, you can even find cashmere sweaters at the lowest you'll see them. Retailers bank on last-minute shoppers settling on a sweater in a stressed panic – it's a safe and unassuming gift for every single member of the family.
So don't feel guilty when none of the 5 sweaters in your bag are for anyone else but you. Know you're getting the best deal of the year.
6. Improve Your Meals At Home
Silicon Valley wants a piece of your home cookin’ budget, bad.
Meal delivery services like Blue Apron have sprung up like weeds in the past few years, offering all the convenience and satisfaction of cooking at home without the hassle of planning and standing in line at the grocery store.
While there are numerous options to choose from for a meal-box subscription service, Blue Apron has a huge jump on the competition: they offer a greater variety of meals at a lower cost than any of the major competition.
Blue Apron’s 2-person plan offers three meals for $59.94 per week ($9.99 per person per meal) while the family plan is $139.84 per week ($8.74 per person per meal). Can you eat cheaper? Of course. But that’s not what you’re paying for.
Built in to Blue Apron’s cost is their meal planning, which will have you sampling different foods and learning how to cook new cuisine – skills you apply “off-Apron” for life.