Shopping for your guy by age

The best gifts for your guy, of course, suit his personality type and his age. To show him that you understand and appreciate who he is right now, give gifts that acknowledge his progress from one stage of his life to another.

Man and woman exchanging gifts

Gifts for the young adult

Guys in their late teens and early 20s are beginning to strike out on their own and enter the workforce. At the same time, they’re still young and like to have fun. A guy in this age range is as likely to appreciate a really nice watch as he is a sports cooler emblazoned with his college mascot.

The key to giving the right gift is to listen carefully. If your man has been talking about not having the right clothes for an upcoming interview, get him a really nice blazer or a pair of nice shoes. If, on the other hand, he’s always talking about hanging out with his friends or hitting the bars on the weekend, get him a set of poker chips or a personalized flask. The sky’s the limit with this age range because these guys still need a lot of basics, and they still love gifts that are just for fun.

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Extra tips: “Guys just starting out are probably in need of basic household equipment but aren’t ready to act happy about a set of knives. Look for items that will facilitate the lifestyle he has, or wants, such as cocktail ingredients or mixers.

“For the guy settling into his career, gifts that help him get out of his day-to-day routine will shake things up for him in a positive way. If he’s into tech gadgets, get him a neat, new smartphone or a shaving foam dispenser.

“Finally, the husband with kids probably hasn’t bought anything fun for himself in a while. If he’s a build-it-yourself type, something he can put together — like a rocket set or a dinosaur model — will let him involve the kids without sacrificing enjoyment. Upgraded versions of things he uses every day, like nice pens or a multi-tool, will also be put to good use.”
— Andrew Schrage, editor at MoneyCrashers

Gifts for the career-builder

As a man moves into his late 20s and early 30s, he’s typically pretty focused on his career. Show him how much you appreciate his work ethic while making his life easier by purchasing items such as high-tech office gadgets or high-quality luggage for his frequent business trips.

Also, guys in this age range are often buying their first homes. Consider getting him a nice set of grill tools for weekend barbecues or a set of monogrammed beer glasses. He may not be in a position to purchase these items for himself, so he’ll appreciate your thoughtfulness.

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Gifts for the guy who is settling down

Guys in their 30s and early 40s may feel pretty comfortable at work, but they’re just starting to get settled at home. Engagement, marriage and kids all do a number on a guy mentally and financially, so your man may need a gift that gives him a break from the daily grind. Give him a chance to get away from it all by sending him on a guy’s weekend of golf or getting him a pair of tickets to his favorite sporting event or concert. This type of gift helps refresh a guy just as a spa day does a woman.

Gifts for the mid-lifer

By the time your man makes it to his 40s or 50s, he’s probably ready to cut back a little at the office and refocus on some of his hobbies. Encourage these extracurriculars by decking him out in gear and equipment that will make him feel like a million bucks. For instance, if your man likes cycling, get him a really nice cycling jersey or a set of bicycle tools. If your guy is a musician at heart, buy him a new guitar or a fancy stereo system.

Some guys may have spent so long away from their hobbies that they’ve forgotten how to kick back and enjoy themselves. Help your guy out by indulging him in new experiences. Classes and lessons are a good place to start; for instance, the foodie may love taking gourmet cooking classes, while the adventurer might enjoy surfing or rock-climbing lessons. Just because he’s hit mid-life doesn’t mean he can’t learn new things.

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