Understanding men's needs is easy. They basically like three things: sports, snacks and being left alone so they can enjoy sports and snacks, right? Wrong.
A recent PayPal poll revealed that only 17 percent of all women enjoy shopping for their partners. Compare that to 34 percent of men who say they don't mind buying for the women in their lives and one can only conclude that men are either more complicated than we think or women are just selfish and lazy.
Either way, you girls need help, and this guide will assist you in unraveling the intricacies of your man so you can make him happy this holiday season (and more importantly, never be accused of being selfish or lazy again).
And for the guys, consult this list if you're shopping for your dad, your brother or just making your own list for Santa.
Got a Gordon Gekko to buy for? These innovative stays are perfect for the guy who's tired of dealing with his collar. They use magnets that make the height and spread not only adjustable but lockable, giving new meaning to the phrase "staying power."
Want to add some more metal to his mettle? Throw one of these stainless steel wallets into his stocking. What at first blush appears odd and gimmicky actually is very elegant. They're sleek, sexy and probably can stop a bullet, so they just might save his life.
When he gets home from the office with such a cool pocket vault, he's not going to want to throw it just anywhere. Men's valets have evolved along with the growing digital lifestyle. What once was just a place to throw your change is now a complete digital docking bay. Red Envelope has a nice one this year, as do Brookstone and Sharper Image.
Speaking of the digital lifestyle, the iPod has spawned more ancillary design than perhaps any personal device in history. Now that it's a phone and a Web browser and pretty much exactly what science fiction has been promising us for the past 50 years (we stopped holding our breaths for the jet pack somewhere around 2001), it's pretty clear it's here to stay. Here's a quick rundown of the latest and greatest gear for your little digital companion:
Looking for something a little less ... architectural? These are some of the finest leather iPhone/iPod cases we found, and they're individually made with the finest cowhide by Spanish craftsmen in Malaga. You know they care about their craft when they offer a package deal with a custom-care kit.
When it comes to players, the choices are limitless. Here are a couple that registered on our radar:
The iPod Deluxe Table radio is the most affordable and offers a very attractive retro look with better-than-expected sound quality.
The innovative cardboard speakers by Japanese design house Muji offer truly state-of-the-art portability. They actually fold up to be stored in a plastic pouch when not in use.
But the most exquisite audio system we discovered is the HE collection by famed European designer Marcel Wanders. Words cannot describe the beauty and elegance of this completely wireless system, so just check it out for yourself.
Ladies, as much as you want to dress us up, buying clothes is chancy. And you know what they say: Give a man a suit, you've dressed him for a day; teach a man how to wear a suit and you've given him style for life.
Whether he's already the Dapperest Dan in the office or just a budding sartorialist working his way up the style ladder, he'll appreciate "ABC of Men's Fashion" by Sir Hardy Amies, the grandfather of men's style.
If you have to buy for a guy whose idea of gear is actually ... gear, here's a quick guide to some stuff that is guaranteed to rev up his belt sander.
Used to be you could get tool chests in any color you like, as long as you like red. Fancy was choosing the one with ball-bearing drawers.
These days, not only do they come in black, green, blue and polished stainless steel, Craftsmen recently released a whole line of multi-colored tool chests that are essentially the iMacs of the do-it-yourself set.
Workbenches, on the other hand, are best kept traditional. High-end tool supplier Garrett Wade has a collection of classic benches that look like what Santa's elves make toys on.
If he's a real project junkie, this innovative device is a must-have stocking stuffer. Our dads held their nails in their mouths when they worked — this magnetic band keeps the hardware on your wrist, as well as wrenches, screwdrivers, anything that's easily dropped and best kept handy.
Whether he's a true outdoorsman or just looks like one, here are a few items that help him hear the call of the wild.
Start literally — with some literature. "The Call of the Wild," Jack London's classic tale of man and dog against nature, is a must-read for anyone with a lust for adventure. This beautiful Aladdin Classics edition is a perfect addition to an action man's library.
Jon Krakauer's contribution to the pantheon of great survival tales was just made into a movie by Sean Penn. Too bad no one survives. If you know "Into the Wild" in its book or movie form, you know that that wasn't a spoiler. But you don't need a surprise ending to be completely gripped by this story of a young man's journey into the oblivion of the Alaskan wilderness.
For a slightly less perilous journey, this travel roll-up from John Allen offers the feel of adventure with the function of very sophisticated grooming kit for the pampered man.
You don't need a lodge to display trophy animals anymore. Or even animals. This carved elk head would make a stunning addition as it is as versatile as it is beautiful and would work just as well in a woodsy den as it would in a spacious modern loft.
Other additions to the new trends in rustic modernity: a sculpted antler coat rack in white and gold; a lamp from West Elm; even Z Gallerie has gotten in on the animal act with this exotic resin deer head.
This lamp goes great either with rustic décor or a real rustic outing. Again, from the folks at Garrett Wade.
Cocktail culture came back with a vengeance a little while ago, and the entertaining accessories got cool and classic all over again. Got a guy who likes a good party? Here's some gear that will class up his pad (and some that won't that he'll love just as much).
The Red Volcano is a fireplace that doesn't require installation. All it requires is cool (and a pretty penny).
Once his guests are toasty and warm, he can make some cocktails with this retro shaker from Restoration Hardware.
If he's a gambling man, these pin-up playing cards are sure to heat up the game.
If he wants to feel cultural about them, he can read all about the long tradition of stacking decks with dames in this history of erotic playing cards just released this summer.
And a few practical tools for the partier who's a little more keeno on the vino: This vacuum wine stopper extends the life of any opened bottle, and this clever storage system will extend the bottle's life on the shelf.
So there you have it — a little something for every man this holiday season. Whether you use this guide or not, the secret to making the guy in your life happy for the holidays is simple: Don't treat him like a guy, just treat him.