S1: Who do you think is the hardest person to get a gift for in your family?
S2: Is dad step dad?
S3: It’s hard to, like, pass what he wants. I don’t know. OK. What do you think?
S4: Do you know how you like some people have, like tech dads who, like you can always rely on like getting on the latest tech thing and like, they’ll always love that and always like, get into that. But that doesn’t really have, like, hobbies, really. And it’s not like he’s like he’s not like a Toole’s kind of guy either. So you can’t like you know, there’s nothing to like update. He’s got what he’s got and he’s happy with that.
S3: You know, in such a way that it’s like these are my things. These are the things that I want and I have them. So he’s like one of those people that it’s like, well, what else do you want?
S5: Tis the season. This is my colleague Danielle Hewitt and her sister Kayla. There’s one more Hewitt sister who couldn’t make it, but they all go through this every year ahead of the holiday season.
S6: It always turns into this emotional rollercoaster because they can’t ever seem to figure out what to get their dad. Men are hard to shop for. I mean, maybe, you know, the perfect thing to get guys in your life and maybe they genuinely appreciate it, too. But me, I have no idea where to start. I don’t even know. What I want is a gift. So how do you shop for guys? And why can’t so many guys like me help point you in the right direction?
S7: Hello and welcome to MAN UP. I’m your host, a minutes maid. And on this show, we break open problems big and small about manhood.
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S6: This week, we’re talking about how hard it can be to shop for men put if you don’t think it’s a problem. Listen to what happened when I went outside in New York and asked guys what they wanted for Christmas.
S5: What would be like the perfect gift for you on Christmas?
S9: I’d love what would be like the perfect gift for Christmas. Feel for me, because that’s a hard question. What would be like the best Christmas present for you? What do you what do you want for Christmas?
S10: What I want for Christmas. That’s that’s the hardest question in the world.
S11: Yeah. Not a great look. Honestly, I can see why this gets so stressful to folks like Danielle and Kayla. And it seems obvious there’s something deeper going on here. What do you wish your dad would do to make this whole process easier?
S12: I. I kind of I’m I guess this is a cop out. But if he could just be like, these are the things I’ve been into this year. Yeah. These are things that I would enjoy. Yeah. Everything. Our dad travels a bunch and like now we’re all out of the house. So it’s like I don’t always up to like we talk, but it’s like, you know, you don’t get those like moments where you’re like, ah, that’s you axemen action. You’re like, that’s what I’m going to get him, you know? So it’s like it’s that. And like, I don’t know, just like, as Kayla said, have a thing.
S13: You make my life easier. And the thing where I could buy you a bunch of things and then it’ll give you a collection of some kind. Yeah. And I could do that with my iPhone buying the latest Hot Wheels.
S8: And I think the hardest problem is really just the guys have no idea what they want.
S12: I feel like they don’t know what they want. They don’t want to admit admit like it’s like a weird pride thing to be like. I don’t want anything. I’m fine. I’m good. Yeah. Listen.
S11: This is all very starting to feel impossible. I hear what they’re saying. But if my wife came to me and asked me what I wanted for a gift right now, I’d probably just stare at her. If anyone can give us some kind of guidance, it’s gonna be Mickey. Thank you for coming. My pleasure. I always forget to do that. I was just jump into the questions. Let’s start with the pleasantry, shall we? So how are you doing? I’m good, thank you. How are you? I read a read on what we go with that living on Meet Mickey on Raw. As of last year, she was promoted to head honcho and CEO of the men’s clothing brand. Bonobos figuring out what men shop for women really want is literally her job. So what do men want as gifts?
S14: That feels like a good jillion dollar question. I feel like I just put the spotlight on you. Did you? It’s really bright, sexy first thing in the morning. I think buying for men is really hard. I mean, I struggle with it. I markets men every day of the week for a career and I still struggle with what to buy.
S15: My dad, my brother, my husband.
S16: Wait, what if you struggle with it?
S17: But we also grew this. So why do you think it’s so hard? I think it’s hard because two things. One, I think men are terrible at articulating what they want. You’re right. Right. It’s it’s like I know men. I think the second thing is, is that when you think about a gift that a man really loves, it’s usually related to something that they are deeply passionate about.
S15: And nine times out of 10, if they have the means and they’re passionate about it. They go get it for themselves. And in my case, that normally happens a week before my husband’s birthday. And I’m like, now I’m really stuffed. Because now that thing I was going to get him, I can’t anymore.
S16: Do you remember what you were going to get him?
S17: Well, this happens all the time. So this happened most recently with the Apple Watch. The new Apple Watch is my husband’s birthday tomorrow, actually. And so I was gonna give him the Apple Watch. And then he just went to the phone and he went to sell off. So, frankly, I actually don’t have a backup plan right now, and I’ve got about 24 hours to figure it out.
S16: So is shopping for men generally more difficult? Generally, yes.
S15: I think it is generally more difficult because men are real creatures of habit. And what I mean by that is if a man finds a brand he loves, he’s gonna stick with it. If a man finds a an experience or a passion or a hobby. He sticks with it. And so, quite honestly, you run out of gifts. I mean, if someone’s passionate about technology, it sorts of runs out after a while. And then I think the other thing that makes it really hard is in my experience, men are what I like to call surgical strikes. So that is if they need something, they will go search for it and they will go by it. There’s not the same thing that you have with women where it’s about the experience of unwrapping the gifts and it’s about does it look pretty, does it smell nice? Does it make me smile nice? Does it make me look pretty? And so there’s this sort of very different dynamic when it comes to gifting. Okay. I don’t think all is lost. I don’t think it’s that men are now resigned to having terrible gifts for the rest of their lives. I think that it’s about finding those passion points. And I think it’s about how do you turn those passion points into experiences.
S1: For me, my favorite gifts are things that I’ll use all the time, but I’ll never think to buy for myself. Like, for example, my wife got me this big fluffy purple robe and it’s like solved noxious. And it’s so bright and it’s so soft. And I wear it every single day of my life. But you would never. I will do it himself. What do you even buy robes from? I don’t know. You know, I shop online. Am I going to go to like robes, dot com and pick up the purple one?
S14: But this is my point about you when you shop. You search for it. I search for a new pair of jeans, whereas she probably searched either fluffy robes because she was inspired by something or she just went browsing.
S16: I don’t know where it came from, but I remember it showing up and being like, oh, you got a new robe. She’s like, no human. That’s yours. I was like, oh, this is great. So why do you think it’s so hard for men to articulate things that they want?
S15: I think it’s in part because not conditioned to talk about sort of what they need and what makes them happy. I do think that’s a big part of it. And so as a result. It sort of expands from everything from, you know, health care and not talking about that all the way through down to the sort of the somewhat mundane or trivial things in life like a gift. So when I asked my husband that question of what was the best gift I ever got you, his response was.
S17: All kids, which was very sweet cheating. It was cheating. It was very sweet.
S14: But it was. The point was, is that he sort of didn’t we didn’t want to talk about it. I just think it feels a little crass to him. Mm hmm. And I think that’s true for a lot of men. Is that expressing that because it seems so trivial isn’t isn’t worth it.
S16: So one of our co-workers. Yes. Danielle Hewitt is stumped. So she and her two sisters love her dearly, love their father so much, but they have no idea what to get him. Yes. So the biggest problem that they have was they don’t get to spend too much time with him. Okay. They live in New York. He lives somewhere else and he’s always traveling.
S15: I think my advice to them would be actually to lean in to the distance. And what I mean by that is how do they gift him? Something that reminds him of them was their part. So whether that is photography, whether that is something that’s a memento from a childhood memory or something like that. But I think that would be my first idea is how do you actually bridge that gap when they’re apart? The other thing that clued me in when I was thinking was travel. He obviously travels a ton, I assume, because of work. So the other more functional thing would be what you get him to make his travel that bit easier. And whether that’s, you know, a suitcase that charges his phone or whether that’s a one of these. Have you seen these crazy things that you can hang off the back of the seat plain see in front of you. You can rest your legs on it.
S16: You’re making me you really want one of those suitcases that unfolds into a scooter? There is such a thing. There’s like a suitcase that you can pack your things in that you can also, like, ride on. You’re in the airport, all grown ups. Here’s one. It’s called the rideable carry on luggage.
S18: Yeah. Get them one of these. Oh, goodness. All right. Let’s say we solved the problem. You solve the problem. You get your suitcase. The Heeger right on after the break. We really try and solve this thing for the Hewitt sisters and also maybe for me and for you. Stick around.
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S3: My dad has had this gold chain like me, don’t like gold chains, and it’s like he’s out for ever and it’s been like twisted and like, that’s my I’m gonna buy a new one. And he was like, I don’t want to do it.
S13: He’s like like the one I have. Yeah, yeah.
S3: He’s very he’s like very it’s like a combination of being him being very superstitious and very well like sentimental.
S22: But it’s like I do think there was the one year we like did well was I think it was a birthday gift. And like our dad is like his first love, his baseball. And he used to like collect baseball cards as a kid. And so we I think we were like helping our grandparents move or something. And we found all like his old baseball cards. So so we like organized them and like put them in a barroom thing was all of them because there were too many.
S12: But like, we like put them in a binder and that was like the best I think we’ve done. Yeah, but other than that, it’s been a lot of misses. There was one time kill. You bought them a tie.
S13: Remember that?
S3: And he so he wore it because he coaches and so he wore it to a game and they lost like I can’t wear this tie.
S13: Fortunately, there was another year.
S4: I got him a bow tie and he clearly did not want to wear it. And he was like, I don’t want to tie bow tie.
S13: And then I learned how to tie a bow. And those who have not. Just like there is a slip. Yeah, yeah.
S6: Like, okay. So we know for certain not to get him a tie, but the chain story can actually be really helpful.
S16: Do you have any like rules for people like what are some things that they shouldn’t be doing when they’re thinking about buying the gift?
S14: Don’t upgrade something that somebody loves because you don’t like it. That’s a bit like don’t upgrade your partner’s favorite sweater because you think it looks a bit flea bitten because he loves it, because it’s flea bitten anyway. So there’s a definitely a dent in that.
S15: I think they do in there, which is around the baseball cause, which is related to the point I made earlier, is about OK. So he’s clearly passionate about baseball. We assume it’s about baseball, not about collecting cards. So the question is, is how can you sort of leap off of that and say, can you find know tickets to a baseball game that you will go to? Or can you find. I’m sure this baseball museums and you can do sort of behind the scenes tours, abuse baseball, museums or something like that. So how can you take that passion point around baseball and build an experience around that? I don’t know if he has a brother or he has like a best friend that doesn’t go to that with him. And is that his gift?
S16: That’s really interesting. My mind would have assumed like get him a new baseball bat.
S15: I’m assuming Danielle is in her, you know, 20s, you know, if not early 30s, then maybe her dad is not actually going to go play baseball anymore, but would really love like a day out with his daughter’s baseball game somewhat. Maybe they make a weekend of it. And I think that that’s a lot of the way the gifting is evolving, is moving away from a sort of a physical product to how do you find the man, older woman in your life, an experience and how is that experience that you get them connected to just something that they are passionate about? That’s really interesting. And that way you’re sort of your runway is longer because you can probably think up more things.
S23: And I think that you’re probably more likely to get him something that he is really excited about.
S11: I think that’s a problem for for wanting to buy things from most men, because even when you go to a store as a guy and you you want to buy something that is really marketed towards you. And if it is, it’s really patronizing.
S3: Yeah, I was going to say like a lot of holiday gift guides for men are like the same five things that like I guess they’re for men, but like most men aren’t like, I really want a shaving kit. Like, I want things like whiskey stones or like it’s just like all like all of these very generically, vaguely, I guess male things that don’t make any sense. And like, I guess someone would want that. But like, it’s they’re all like not very sentimental or like they’re all just so generic and so attached to this like vague idea.
S10: Mainly is that no one actually embodies that. It’s just like anyone who you still. Yeah, because I guess it’s like men aren’t supposed to be like enthusiastic about things that aren’t like hard liquor, sports, timber, chopping wood.
S13: Yeah. Outside. Yeah. I guess he’s got. Yes. Do you like grilling stuff. Grilling stuff was a big. Yeah. That was a big era. And.
S23: They’re all generic to that point.
S24: And so honestly, they feel like either one of two things, sort of the lazy person’s gift or the gift for someone you don’t know that well. So when we look and sort of talk about gifting research, we look at sort of what we call the inner circle. So the people that you do know really well, so your husband, your dad, your brother, hopefully you know them pretty well. And then there’s the sort of Outer Circle co-workers, a cousin, an you know, maybe a relative you’re estranged from.
S14: I don’t know who it is, but still obligated to buy gifts for some some reason anyway. So there’s the inner circle and the outer circle.
S24: I think the inner circle, those gift guides, things are never going to work for because they do feel too generic. And I think when you’re shopping for the inner circles that before it’s important to find, you know, the thing they’re passionate about, or if you can’t find something unique and experiential, which seems like a lot of work to be doing.
S14: You know, yeah, multiple times in a year. And then how do you find the brands they love? So you can still go to a traditional gifting category like clothing, but then go find the brand they love, go digging around in their closet for the brand they love, because at least then you’re connecting with something that you know that they like and and gonna be excited about. I don’t think the Outer Circle is where things like the whiskey stones frankly come into play, although whiskey stones. Yeah. I don’t know. I don’t know if I really even know what they are. I think they make your whiskey colder. I think it’s like ice, but it doesn’t melt. Oh, there we go. So it doesn’t dilute your whiskey? That’s right. That makes sense. So I think those gift guides are really. Eidos is it for the lazy person or for that outer circle? But I think in that case was it feels worse to get someone a gift card. I think it’s probably better. Yeah, because at least then they can go and spend that 20, 30 dollars that you would have spent on whiskey stones on something that they actually need or want. Mm hmm. That’s how I would think about the Outer Circle.
S1: So because men are so better articulating what they want. Do you have some tips for men on how to maybe think about.
S14: When someone says, what do you want? Yeah. How do you answer that? I don’t think you answer actually with. The gift. But think about either say, well, it was this gift you got me was great. So point to something in the past that was great. That might give them some clues or I would say and points to something that your you’ve seen you’re excited about. Maybe it’s not a specific gift, but a I’m I’m really enjoying learning about wine. Make this up. And so that person can have some clues about they can buy your wine, they can get your wine tasting class, they can take you to the Napa Valley and making things up. That would be a good one, wouldn’t it? Yeah, because if you just think about the specific thing, not only is that hard, but then you also think about the price point. And I think this is the other really hard part. When someone says, what do you want? Depending on what your relationship with them is automatic, you go to the point of how much should I be prepared to ask for? Know how much are they prepared to pay or spend on me?
S24: And that gets very strange because that can feel presumptuous. So I would go to this was a great gift or, you know, some of the things that you’re finding interesting to, you know, to learn about or experience right now. Here.
S16: Perfect advice. OK, good. Now I feel like I know how to answer that question. Somebody to be like.
S14: What do you want for Christmas?
S25: Hmm. I’m really in2. Audio right now. So I have like a new pair of headphones that I love. I don’t need headphones cause I have. But what about a subscription to Audible or that now we’re talking.
S26: There you go. You see, I get it. Now you get it. That’s pretty. That’s and that’s the trick. What can I change? My answer is no. Hang on a minute. Is my answer. Now you want to lead the witness. I’m I’m really into coffee these days. Oh, well, that’s actually brilliant.
S14: Because then you’re giving a whole field of things from different kinds of coffee makers to coffee beans to a trip to Costa Rica. Yeah. To see them being grown. I’ll go to Costa Rica. There you go. There’s the spectrum of price points, too. Or if they’re really cheap, then they’ll just buy your cappuccino.
S26: That’s so easy. Well, like one of those slow drip things. There’s so many. You see, the thing is, there are so many. But you would never buy a slow drip for yourself. Which way?
S14: But have fun on a Sunday morning to make slow drip coffee.
S27: That’s perfect. OK, good. All right. So this is what we’re gonna do. We’re going to broadcast this far and wide and we’re going to solve this problem for everybody. Men will suddenly know what they want as gifts. Thank goodness.
S28: You like a better sense of what you want to get him, though.
S3: I mean, something baseball related. Actually, he really likes like remembering the times and we were smaller and like so maybe like a photo, maybe an hour. One of those little like fold out like picture frames. But like I said, when we were little thing that be good.
S5: This is it. This sounds like way too much work. I’m thinking like the dream gift for this guy would be like baseball cars. But of the family here.
S10: Yes, there would be a lot of work, but that bag should be very funny and he would actually very much enjoyed that. I think that’s actually really good. If I have the time and the mental capacity, I might think about that.
S28: Thank you, Mickey. Thanks, Mickey.
S16: How low we need we need you to share some of your gems so that people everywhere know how the hell you’re supposed to shop for men.
S1: How did you know? How did you know that I wanted a purple robe before I even knew that I wanted a purple robe?
S29: A purple robe, like a soft.
S30: You know, fuzzy purple robe is one of those things that you really don’t know you want until you have. I that makes like a really great gift too. It’s like it’s like you can’t really predict the purple rose.
S1: Sometimes I’ll see you wearing the purple robe and I’ll give you like that side I like. Are you really going to wear it right now so I can’t wear.
S31: And that also I’m not going to lie like plays a part of truth comes out like this.
S16: It was really a gift for yourself.
S32: I thought you would enjoy a purple robe, and I knew that I would also not mind having a soft spoken support group.
S33: It’s not great when the great.
S34: And that’s the show. Thank you so much for listening. If you enjoyed the show, please hit us with that good rating and your podcasting app. It’s a free show, so come on. It’s literally the least you could do. Also, we still need your help to figure out what we’re talking about next. We’re looking for folks who wouldn’t mind coming on the show to explain how they, too, are work in progress. So if you think that’s you call us at 8 or 5 6 2 6 8 7 0 7. That’s 8 0 5 men up 0 7. Or you can e-mail us at man up at Slate.com. Don’t forget to make sure you’re subscribed because we’ve got new shows every week. And I hate for you to miss out. Man Up is hosted and written by me, Ayman ismaii. It’s produced by Cameron Drewes. Our editors are Jeffrey Blumer and Lowe and Lou. Gabriel Roth is the editorial director of Slate podcasts and Jude Thomas is the senior managing producer, obviously podcasts. We’ll be back next week with more mayhem.