My family thinks that I’m good at gifting. I think that I’m good at buying for them. My style works with knowing people well and having a good frame of reference. Also, I can do “tough love” or “tough luck” gifting with close family. With extended family and friends, overthinking hasn’t always worked. Some people are just easier to buy for, too. And the less you know the person and the less you want to give a gift, the worse it becomes. I dislike buying gifts as a customary action; I need to want to give it (isn’t that really the point anyway?).
My brother gets a lot of clothes which is boring, and he doesn’t need us to get them, so for his birthday, I thought I would get him a few gifts that would let him branch out a bit but that were still related to his interests. We’ve joked about his “culture points” (we meant high culture) and mourned a bit about his lack of reading (he will read history and some other non-fiction though, which really is better anyway!), and I wanted him to branch out a bit from chain restaurants. So, I bought him Target Tokyo because it was listed as a Pulitzer history runner up, a model kit that could double as decoration, and a gift card to a local restaurant. All of it was a hit, and he hoped that I would draw his name for Christmas (I didn’t).
I drew my sister’s fiancé for our immediate family drawing and bought him a Groupon to a local restaurant. I also bought him Boy and Going Solo by Roald Dahl (I read the latter and greatly enjoyed it this year) because my sister (the one engaged to him) has said he liked reading but not really the hardcore history books that I’m getting for the other men of the family and he likes middlegrade like all of us girls. Dad likes reading about WWII and Papau likes many areas of history, so Dad is getting To Hell and Back (along with a coupon for all of us girls to watch The Martian with him) and Papau is getting Five Presidents (along with fruitcake).
I have come across a couple articles and videos that mention that guys like different genres; I know that sounds obvious, but I’m not talking about merely action versus romance, but fiction versus nonfiction. I knew that in my family they did, but I didn’t give it much thought. I like looking at history book award lists like the Pulitzer Prize for History (don’t overlook the runners up), the Francis Parkman Prize list, and the Bancroft Prize list. Dr. Moehler of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary has a good book list here.
I think that nonfiction, models (or even Legos, I almost got my brother some), activities (from movies to rock-climbing), knives and tools, board games (I’ll buy video games when pigs fly), and food are great basic ideas for guys, the ones in our family anyway. A lot of these categories appear on gift lists, but you have to personalize them, not just grab something if it is recommended, but if it is a category the gift receiver will like.