Let’s hear it for the boys. I would contend that come Christmas time and gift-giving, us guys often get a raw deal. It is perhaps no exaggeration to suggest that some cheap cologne, a bottle of booze and silly socks, are the order of the day. Most frustrating, is that people rarely think about what they are buying and the person they are buying for. Lost amid the Christmas commotion, it’s easy to fall into the trap of panic buying, filling our baskets (real or virtual) with numerous nonsensical items. And this, inevitably, leads to post-Christmas waste, further exacerbating a culture of throwawayism.
Punctilious and urbane, the best gifts for guys will bring lasting pleasure, indulge the senses and spark the imagination. Here are just a few handsome hints:
1. A cosy candle is ideal for cold, winter evenings. Founded in 2017, London-based Northwick Wares produces natural soy candles with a clean-burning wooden wick. The soy wax is hand-poured into crackle-glazed ceramic jars—these tactile vessels are made in Stoke-on-Trent, the home of English pottery. Escape to a tranquil Norwegian fjord with the ‘Fjordlands’ candle, its heady scent capturing the essence of cascading waterfalls, forest fruits and woody mountain incense.
2. If the man you have in mind is a soap on a rope kinda guy, he is sure to love a classic, masculine, handcrafted bar from Claus Porto, a fine Portuguese purveyor of soap. The brand’s ‘Musgo Real’ collection is a 1930s classic—each soap on a rope is handmade using 100% vegetable oils, walnut extract and a cotton rope. The Orange Amber fragrance is especially warm and invigorating.
3. When choosing a perfume, New York brand Le Labo is passionate about hand-formulated, soulful fragrances. For this brand, craftsmanship is core to its being. Once you select a scent (Patchouli 24 is a favourite in the Walnut Grey household), it is freshly hand-blended and personalised (with up to twenty-three letters).
4. Forget those calendars with half-naked guys, cuddly cats and the latest pop sensation. The Formosa Perpetual Calendar was designed by Enzo Mari in 1963 for Danese Milano. With its large Helvetica typeface—choose from either red or black and four languages—this is a perennial design classic.
5. Kay Bojesen’s classic Wooden Monkey is, without a doubt, the celebrated Danish designer’s most famous wooden character. Created in 1951, the Monkey is beloved by design aficionados around the world. A fun-loving and easy-going companion, this little guy is designed for a lifetime of commitment.
6. Artek’s Stool 60 was originally designed in 1933 by Finnish architect and designer Alvar Aalto for the Viipuri Library in Finland. Today, the Stool 60 is a much distinguished design classic. And for the man with handy hands, it’s fun and simple to assemble.
7. Written by acclaimed chef Magnus Nilsson, the ‘Nordic Baking Book’ explores the centuries-old baking customs of the Nordic region. This comprehensive tome will keep every man busy baking throughout those cold winter days. Cinnamon buns and coffee anyone?
8. Brewing coffee with a slow, pour-over method is distinctly gratifying. Providing a moment of quietude, the act of hand-pouring water over freshly ground coffee beans is a wonderfully aesthetic ritual. For the budding barista, Japanese brand Kinto offers a smart range of coffee-making wares and its pour-over kettle is particularly elegant in form and function.
9. Working with visually impaired craftspeople, Swedish venture Iris Hantverk has been making brushes by hand since the late 19th century. A dedication to craftsmanship is key to the company’s identity, authenticity and success. Its oak, dark and light horse hair computer brush is the ideal tool for dusting screens and sweeping keyboards.
10. Boys do like their toys and Swedish brand Carl Friedrik makes a range of handsome, quality leather tech cases to keep them safe and sound. Crafted only with essential features (there are no clutter-craving pockets) and using naturally tanned leather (with details on provenance), Carl Friedrik’s products are innovative and honest. The brand’s leather MacBook Pro sleeve is a winner.
11. Christmas tunes at the ready. The Klang M1 bluetooth speaker from German brand Loewe is both small and sleek. With its precise, no-nonsense construction, this compact, minimal speaker packs a mighty punch when it comes to sound. It’s available in silver, graphite grey and rose gold.
12. LZF’s I-Club table lamp is a debonair luminaire. With its ambient light, the I-Club is a perfect desk companion. A well-groomed and understated lamp, its polished urbanity has a certain masculine air that makes it ideal for any man with discerning taste.