How to Select a Gift for Your Best Male Friend

Two Parts:Choosing the Right GiftAvoiding Romantic Undertones

Guy friends can be great fun, but when a birthday or another gift-giving event rolls around, things can get stressful. Odds are that you want something that will show him you care about him, but you're worried about giving him something he won't like. Even worse, you may be worried about giving him something that makes him think you're interested in him. Don't worry — by choosing an appropriate gift, making it clear that you're not interested, and avoiding common blunders, you'll be able to get an ecstatic (but completely romance-free) response out of your guy friend.

Part 1
Choosing the Right Gift

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    Get him something that caters to his interests. Since this person is presumably your best friend, you should probably have a good idea of his hobbies and interests. Giving your guy friend something that reflects these interests or, better yet, something that helps him perform his hobby, is almost always a safe bet. These sorts of gifts will usually be warmly received — you're giving something he likes and will actually use while also showing him that you put some thought into the gift.
    • If you aren't sure what your guy friend likes to do, a quick trip to his house or apartment should clue you in — just look at what he has lying around and what's on his walls. For instance, if you see a stack of Nintendo magazines, there's a good chance he's a gamer, so a new game or some Nintendo memorabilia would be a good option. Along the same lines, if you see a Metallica poster on his wall, there's a good chance he's a fan of the band's music, so a concert DVD or some band merchandise may be in order.
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    Pick something he'll find amusing or funny. If you're worried about your ability to choose a gift your friend will like, err towards something that he'll find lighthearted or humorous — after all, it's hard to read too deeply into a gift when you're laughing your head off! You may want to play off of an inside joke the two of you share or just simply go for something that's funny in a more general sense. The latter is a little more impersonal, but also a little less likely to give the wrong impression, so use your judgement. Below are just a few ideas to get you started:
    • Comedy movies and standup recordings.
    • Novelty gifts — T-shirts with funny slogans, strange knick-knacks, crass board games, and so on.
    • Prank gifts — things you know he hates (like a jersey for his favorite sports team's rival), things that are amusingly out of style (like ugly 70s sunglasses), bizarre non sequiturs (like a sack of potatoes), and so on.
    • Something clever that plays off of his name — e.g., if he's named Brian, you might consider a Life of Brian movie poster.
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    Get him something functional. One sure-fire way to please your guy friend while steering well clear of awkward misunderstandings is to give him something that's purely functional — that is, something that's useful to him, but not necessarily very "warm" or intimate. For instance, if this guy friend spends lots of time lifting weights at the gym, you might consider getting him a pair of fingerless weightlifting gloves, some gym shorts, or even a few weights for his home. These sorts of gifts show that you pay attention to what your friend likes to do but are usually very low-risk because they aren't likely to offend him or come across as overly affectionate.
    • The potential problem with these sorts of gifts, of course, is that they can sometimes come across as cold. Giving a plain, functional gift to someone you've known your whole life may lead to hurt feelings if your guy friend is sensitive about this sort of thing, so be aware of this possibility.
    • You'll also want to keep in mind that certain functional gifts can send unintentionally rude messages. For instance, while a subscription to a health food magazine may be useful, it may send the unfortunate message that you think your recipient needs to lose weight.
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    Get him something he can use with his friends. Another great way to show your appreciation for your friend without sending the wrong signals is to make your gift all about your guy friend and his circle of friends (which includes you, obviously, though you don't necessarily need to pick a gift that you would enjoy personally.) For example, if your guy friend is in a band with a few of his other buddies, a great gift would be to give him a custom-designed T shirt with his band's name on it. You might alternatively want to get him a rhythm-based music game like Guitar Hero — this way, you all can play it together.
    • If your guy friend has an S.O., the same principle applies, so you might want to consider getting something for the two of them. For instance, two tickets to a show put on by the couple's favorite local band is a fantastic way to give your guy friend an entertaining night out with his favorite sweetheart (with or without your presence — it's your decision.)
    • This is also a great way to ease tensions if you've recently had a disagreement with some of his other friends. If you get him something that you, him, and the other friends can use together, you're basically offering an olive branch and saying, "I want us all to get along."
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    Get him a "manly" gift. Getting your guy friend something that appeals to his sense of masculinity or his image as a gentleman is usually a fairly safe choice. Things like pocket knives, watches, driving accessories, and so on make memorable gifts and are suitable for most young and old men alike. Below are just a few more ideas:
    • Ties
    • Tools
    • Belt buckles
    • Shaving accessories
    • Wallets — many guys go long periods of time without buying themselves a new wallet, so this gift will probably be especially appreciated.
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    Save cash by making something yourself. Your gift doesn't necessarily have to be very expensive for it to make a big impression. Making your own gift from scratch is a great way to show you truly care about your friend, and while these sorts of gifts are often much less costly than a similar gift purchased from the store, the time and care you put into the gift will usually be extra-meaningful. Below are just a few fun DIY gift ideas to get you started, but don't be afraid to get creative and make your own!
    • A piece of art created by you (like a painting, drawing, or sculpture)
    • A handmade craft item (like a piece of furniture, skateboard, laptop stand, etc.)
    • A handwoven piece of clothing (like a knit hat or mittens)
    • Some homemade food (like cookies or brownies — non-perishables are best)
    • A song written and performed by you (if you're truly bold!)
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    When in doubt, give a gift card. If you're really worried about giving your guy friend the wrong gift, let him choose it for himself! Gift cards and gift certificates are good choices for acknowledging that you care for your guy friend without the risks of more personalized gifts. Many people even prefer gift cards to normal gifts. In face, statistically speaking, the more general-purpose the gift card, the better someone is likely to appreciate it.[1] Best of all, these gifts are very convenient to buy — you can usually pick them up at chain grocery stores on the way to your friend's birthday party.
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    Don't be afraid to ask. Guys are often reluctant to tell people what they want as a gift, especially for birthdays, Christmas, and so on. Some guys feel shy about asking other people for things, while others simply don't care much about what they get. This can be frustrating when you're shopping for presents, so don't hesitate to press your friend for details (respectfully, of course.) Usually, even guys who keep quiet about what's on their wishlist still secretly have something they'd like, so start digging!

Part 2
Avoiding Romantic Undertones

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    Steer away from "lover's" gifts. No matter your intentions, certain gifts come with romantic "baggage" that's hard to ignore, so you'll definitely want to avoid them. As a very general rule, anything you might consider giving your sweetheart on Valentine's day should be off-limits for platonic friends. The consequences for breaking this rule can be dire (especially if your friend has an S.O.), so beware! Below are a few examples of gifts considered "romantic" that you should avoid:[2]
    • Cologne or personal fragrances
    • Flowers
    • Cufflinks or other jewelry
    • Fancy chocolates or other fine sweets (especially those in stylish, elegant boxes)
    • Expensive accessories (e.g., Rolex watches, fine pens, etc.)
    • Provocative clothing (Funny T-shirts are fine, but silk boxers, terrycloth robes, stylish jackets, and so on are too personal for platonic friends)
    • Event tickets for just you and him
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    Be goofy or crude in your card. Often, it's not the gift itself that makes a guy think that you're sending him signals, but the message included with it. It can be easy to mistake friendly tenderness and affection for something more serious, so you may want to avoid this entirely by keeping things very non-serious in your card. Some overeager guys may see romantic signals in even the goofiest of cards, but the risk is much smaller than with a genuine, heartfelt message. Below are just a few sample ideas for making your gift message pleasantly irreverent:
    • Write in SMS-speak (e.g., "H0p U had gd bday. Thx fr b-in a gd fri3nd.")
    • Be condescending in a funny way (e.g., "I don't know if you know this, but it was really hard to pick out this card. I was actually hoping I could have it back so I could re-gift it for Amy's birthday next week. Oh yeah, happy birthday.")
    • Include a dopey acrostic of his name (e.g., for a friend named David: D — Daring / A — Amazing / V — Very cool / etc.)
    • Draw crude or bizarre doodles in the margins.
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    Be a little impersonal about giving him the gift. It's not all about what you give your guy friend — it's also about how you give him the gift. Gushing over your friend's reaction to your gift can raise awkward questions even if the gift is something casual, like a new phone case. On the other hand, coolly and casually giving your friend his gift as if it's not terribly important to you what he thinks of it will allow you to escape unscathed.
    • There's a tricky balance you want to maintain here, however — being too impersonal can come across as rude. For example, leaving an unmarked package containing his present on his porch and not mentioning it to him for a week might make it appear like you don't care about your friend very much. You know your friend better than almost anyone else, so try to keep his sensitivities in mind.
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    When in doubt, consider chipping in for a group gift. Teaming up with a few other people to cover the cost for a gift isn't just one way to save cash on an expensive gift — it's also the perfect method to avoid "sending the wrong signal." It's very hard to make a group gift come across as a personal, romantic gift from you to your friend. After all, there's a good chance you didn't even pick it out! Best of all, a simple, polite message on the card is the only personal touch a group gift needs, so you don't need to risk the pitfalls of a longer, more personalized message.
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    If all else fails, drop copious hints that you're just friends. If you're seriously worried about your gift being taken the wrong way, use your card as an opportunity to define your relationship in purely platonic terms. Go out of your way to refer to yourself and your guy friend as just that — friends. Use words like "buds," "pals," "homies," "dudes," and so on. Avoid terms that can be construed as romantic, like calling yourself his "special friend" or ending your letter with "Yours,". [3]
    • Unfortunately, for some guys, not even this will be enough. In these cases, you may need to simply ignore your friend's puppy love until he loses interest. If he's becoming too distracting to ignore, most relationship guides will recommend being blunt — in other words, telling him directly that you don't want to ruin your friendship with romance.[4] See our article on the subject for more information.


  • Believe it or not, some websites are designed specifically for this niche. Search around for the perfect gift at sites like,, and more — these sites are great if you don't know where to start.
  • Gift card to his favorite place to eat.

Article Info

Categories: Gift Giving