Holiday Gift Guide: Gifts ‘for him’ this holiday season

Holiday Gift Guide: Gifts ‘for him’ this holiday season
Shop Made in VA has a beard kit for sale for anyone on their beard journey. (Photo/Logan Mitchell)

By Logan Mitchell

Whether you’re shopping for your husband, boyfriend, father, brother or a special man in your life, it can be tricky knowing what to get for them. If you look through online gift guides, you’ll likely come across the same impersonal gifts repeatedly. Not every man wants whiskey-scented deodorant or soap, yet almost every website suggests it. 

It’s easy to sit at home and shop on Amazon; after all, you don’t even have to get out of your pajamas. But you’ll be missing out on getting into the holiday spirit if you take that route. Picture spending an afternoon in Old Town or Del Ray, seasonally decorated and packed with tourists and shoppers alike. 

You can’t capture the feeling of walking around in the cold, hearing holiday music faintly playing from speakers and inhaling the rich and warm smells of candles burning inside the local shops, by merely clicking on an online purchase. If you want to recapture the holiday spirit, the best place is to stop around the city and see for yourself what the plentiful stores have to offer. 

Penny Post 

Penny Post is a delightful independent stationery store right in the heart of Old Town. What stood out to me was the variety of products. They do have stationery of course, but they also have puzzles, stickers, bookmarks and a delightful collection of pens. 

The first item that caught my eye was a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle that when finished, displays the world of King Arthur. The best way I can describe the art style of this puzzle is an art tapestry with more detail. If the special someone in your life is a fan of Arthurian legend, they’ll also love the little booklet that comes with the puzzle that serves as a guide to the legends. The puzzle retails for $22. 

Near the center of the store, there was a table covered in the aforementioned office essentials. What stood out to me isn’t the most glamorous gift in the world, but it’s sturdy and gets the job done. It’s a tape dispenser, but not just any tape dispenser, though: a Penco Leader that retails for $28. It is crafted with enameled steel and comes in four colors, including ivory, red, green and navy. 

Just from picking it up, I knew this was the kind of product that will last for decades if taken care of properly. As a proud cat dad used to the cats knocking everything off my desk, I can tell you that tape dispensers tend to break easily. If this one manages to fall off the desk, it’s more likely your floor will break before the dispenser does. 

Today’s Cargo 

Today’s Cargo is a jewelry store also located on King Street. It did not add a men’s section as an afterthought, which is evident through its great selection of watches and wedding bands, as well as a variety of other types of rings. 

The front of the store has more vintage jewelry and I almost bought a watch or two for myself. There is plenty more in-store than online, so make sure you visit their brick-and-mortar location to look around and speak to the friendly employees. 

Shop Made in VA 

Shop Made, also on King Street, is a store that carries items exclusively made in the Commonwealth. The store was packed with people on Plaid Friday, so I found myself herded into a corner of the store and I’m glad I ended up where I did. It was filled with the sort of self-care gifts that not every man knows he wants, but can’t live without once he realizes how good he smells. 

The first product I opened to smell was a bottle of cologne from Lineage Goods. There were three cologne fragrances for sale, each at $19: Boot Jack, grapefruit/fig and tobacco/ spice. 

Right next to the colognes were some delightful bars of soap made in Falls Church by Josh and Heather Mazen. Their business, Frontyard Farm, creates farm-inspired soaps made with natural ingredients. For the men in your life who have sensitive skin, these $6 soaps might help prevent any discomfort or flare-ups. For the vegans among us, they also have soap made without animal products. They also make deodorants, body and lip balms. 

Wicked Naturals, based in Broadway, makes products tailored to the bearded men in your life. They offered great-smelling beard oils for $10, shaving soap for $12 and, my favorite, a $42 beard product kit filled with the essentials. It comes with beard oil, a wooden brush, a beard shampoo bar and a wood soap bar dish. This box is perfect for someone who either just started their beard journey or who has walked the bearded road for years. 

Red Barn Mercantile 

If the special person in your life is a fan of America’s pastime, I highly recommend getting a copy of “Baseball Parks: Then and Now,” which retails for around $30. The book explores how ballparks have changed and is filled with amazing photographs. It’s the perfect conversation starter or coffee table book. If you want to splurge, there’s a leatherbound edition available for $115. 

There was another book that any man who likes to think of himself as a maestro behind the bar cannot go without, it’s “The Bartenders Manifesto” by Toby Maloney and Emma Janzen. This guide goes far beyond being a recipe book and dives into the science and chemistry of what makes a good cocktail. The aim of the book is to inspire you to create your own cocktails with the knowledge you have gained and is available for $32.