This could be any guy—a boyfriend, husband, brother, grandfather or, in my case, dad. He has everything he needs and gets what he wants, making him the most difficult person to shop for on holidays.
We've tried buying nice things—clothes (some he's even picked out), an iPod he still thinks is broken (he just doesn't really know how to use it, and prefers the box speakers from '94), a watch I haven't seen in years—none seemed to work.
So I started listening a little closer (gee, what a concept) to comments like, "My pillowcases are getting kind of ratty," or, "I've been meaning to print the pictures from our trip... And get some more of those car wash vouchers."
"Who took my nice pen?"
"I'm out of scotch."
Not all guys are like Richard Eriksen, but from trial and error and a couple of brothers, I have a few ideas for gifts that work every time for the picky ones.
1. Photo Books and Albums
All parents like having photos around, but technology makes it seem like printing hard copies is less important. Shutterfly and Snapfish are two websites with easy steps to creating photo albums, books, framed prints or just printing photos. You can cheese it up with captions and graphics or order something sleek and simple, and it's usually less than $50.
2. Game Tickets (or any other event)
Easy. Talk about going but never nail it down? Make it a gift for both of you.
3. Gift Certificates (car washes, golf courses)
It varies depending on the person, but gift certificates for something they like to treat themselves to always work. In Richard's case, it's a clean, shiny car. If he's a golfer, he'll definitely use a certificate to a local course. Try locals such as Wheaton Car WashArrowhead Golf Club and Cantigny Golf. (Note: If this person is a boyfriend—or significant other, the car wash idea might not always be a homer.)
4. Nice White T-Shirts
It's lame—but no one likes a ratty white tee peeking out from under the button-down, and everyone loves the feel of a fresh, quality cotton t-shirt. Splurging on a nicer brand helps with the "I can't believe I'm getting someone undershirts" feeling, and pairing it with dress socks or something completes the boring necessities package.
5. Grooming Supplies (shave kits, shoe shiner)
I bought my brother a $5 beginner's shoe-shining kit at Target last year in the cheap stocking-stuffer section and was the highlight of his Christmas. Knippen's Shoes might have something nicer. Nice razors and new dopp kits have been successful in the past.
Other ideas: Gift certificate to Wheaton Meat Co., other gift certificates (try Studio Movie Grill), olive oil from Bleu Olive, basket stocked with goodies from Carlson Hardware, golf balls, money clips, magazine subscriptions, HDTV, Mont Blanc pen, a day off—whatever that means.