Every year since we started the site back in 2008, we’ve done an annual holiday gift guide, highlighting manly, useful, classic, and unique gifts an Art of Manliness man might want to find under the tree. This year, I wanted to do something a little different: using the same criteria to compile an edition entirely dedicated to stocking stuffers.
Stocking stuffers often get overlooked in the rush to see the bigger gifts Santa’s left. But they’re one of my favorite parts of Christmas. There’s something so fun about little gifts small enough to be stuffed in a giant sock. Yet once a man ages out of the novelty toys of his youth, it can be hard to know how to fill his stocking with things that are both neat and useful. For that reason, we’ve created this massive guide that includes 50 stocking stuffers a father, husband, or brother will find both practical and delightful. While every stocking should have one or two just-for-fun items, too many stocking stuffers are bits of junk that get thrown in a desk drawer, and then, once the feeling of guilt wears off, put in a trash can or tag sale. So the things we’ve chosen are those a man will enjoy using the moment he pulls them from his stocking and for a long time afterwards.
Of course if you’re looking for bigger gift ideas, I highly recommend checking out our past guides, where you’ll find hundreds of great ideas:
We wrote about six forgotten and manly drugstore colognes and aftershaves earlier this year. It was a big hit. Cheap drugstore cologne was a staple in my dad’s stocking growing up, and I remember getting my first bottle of Brute in my stocking when I was twelve. Any of the old drugstore standbys make a great stocking stuffer gift. You can’t go wrong with Old Spice, but my favorite is definitely English Leather. $3-$10
Every man should carry a pocket knife. There’s a nice Benchmade Mini-Griptilian Tanto in the Huckberry General Store that would make a great gift. It’s my everyday carry knife, but it’s kind of pricey for a stocking stuffer. Fortunately, there are plenty of affordable, quality pocket knives on the market to choose from. I like this Handmade German Anchor knife from Garrett Wade ($30). Besides that particular pocket knife, Garret Wade offers several other great options. $10-$80
I love a good reference book and my favorite by far is the Pocket Reference Guide, 4th Edition by Thomas J. Glover. This small, black book is crammed with just about every piece of information a man might want to know. Want to know about different lumber types? How about how to tie the fifty most common knots? Need a formula to determine the area of an oblique triangle? It’s all there in the Pocket Ref Guide and much, much more. Sure, you can find this info online these days, but this guide serves as a great book to have by the toilet so you can thumb through it while taking care of business. $8
This handsome handwarmer from Zippo makes the perfect stocking stuffer for the man who spends a lot of time in the freezing cold. My dad would have loved this in his game warden days on those cold mornings checking duck hunters. For a few extra dollars you can get your Zippo handwarmer engraved. $13
Besides helping you find your car keys in a dark parking lot when you accidentally drop them, a small tactical flashlight can also serve as a useful self-defense tool. Shine the bright light from the tactical flashlight in a would-be attacker’s eyes to temporarily blind him and give yourself enough time to run or counter-attack. High quality tactical flashlights can cost well over $100. For most folks, that’s probably too much for a stocking stuffer. At $40, theStreamlight 88301 Protac Tactical flashlight puts itself on the potential stocking stuffer bubble. While it doesn’t emit 500 lumens like its more expensive cousins, the 88301 does offer enough light output (180 lumens) to blind an attacker momentarily. $40
Old-School Hair Grooms
For the discerning man who appreciates a nice taper and a sharp, crisp part. Old-school pomades and hair grooms can give you that handsome Cary Grant shine. Best of all, they’re cheap which makes them great stocking stuffers. I’m a Brylcreem man. A big tube costs only $7 at the drugstore and lasts for weeks. Groom & Clean is another favorite of mine. It’s not as greasy as Brylcreem and it smells great. $5-$8
I love writing with a fountain pen. It makes writing even a lowly grocery list feel like a dignified affair. Unfortunately, a decent fountain pen can cost upwards of $50. If you want the fountain pen experience without the cost (and worry of losing an expensive pen) check out Varsity disposable fountain pens from Pilot. A 3-pack costs only $8 and writes almost as smoothly as more expensive fountain pens. These make a great stocking stuffer for a man who’s been curious about fountain pens, but hasn’t had the dough to try out an expensive one. $8
I don’t know what it is about money clips. Even if I’m just paying for a QuikTrip taquito, I feel like Frank Sinatra when I pull it out and start thumbing through my cash. Money clips make the perfect stocking stuffer because 1) they’re small, and 2) they’re cheap. Kill two birds with one stone by getting a money clip/pocket knife combo. $5-$15
Stainless Steel Comb from Chicago Combs
A man doesn’t need much in the hairbrush department to keep his mane in order — just a comb will do. But in a throwaway culture, it’s nice to upgrade that comb from the plastic, disposable variety made overseas. Which is why I am a big fan and owner of the Chicago Comb. Made with timeless style right here in America. Constructed of stainless steel (yet comfortable on the scalp), this baby is dang near indestructible and will last forever. They’re pretty pricey for a comb, so if you’re going to pick one up for yourself or a loved one, make sure to buy it on sale in the AoM x Huckberry Holiday Store. Even then, with the price, the nice packaging it comes in, and the classic nature of the gift, it might find its way out of the stocking and under the tree. $39 (on sale)
When I asked people on Google+ for some manly stocking stuffer ideas, several folks suggested gun ammo. As a new gun owner I definitely understood why. Ammo is kind of expensive and you want plenty of it on hand for those impromptu trips to the gun range. Make sure you get the right kind of ammo, though. It’d be a bummer to get boxes of 9mm bullets when your gun is a .38 special. I’m hoping Santa drops a few boxes of shotgun shells in my stocking this year. Varies by ammo type
If you want to introduce a man to the lost art of the classic wet shave, give him a shave brush. Once he experiences the joy and pleasure of lathering up with a good old-fashioned shaving brush, he’ll be jonesing to start shaving with other classic shaving implements like a safety razor. Art of Shaving sells a good brush for $40. You can find some handcrafted shaving brushes on Etsy as well. Wherever you get the brush, make sure it’s made of badger hair, not boar hair. It produces the best lather. $30-$40.
While most bottles have twist-off caps these days, opening them can still be a pain. A classic wall mount bottle opener placed right next to the fridge eliminates the hassle of twisting off a bottle cap, plus it makes opening a cold one a bit more enjoyable. $7
This air-tight, waterproof, crushproof sardine can is packed with 25 survival items, including a fishhook, signal mirror, fire starter cube, and first aid supplies. Now, because of the variety and quality of the items in the can, this is far more of a novelty item than an actual survival kit. But it’s pretty cheap and a lot of fun; every stocking needs at least one item that’s simply designed to delight and act as a conversation piece. This fits the bill nicely. $12
A can of handmade mustache wax is the perfect stocking stuffer for the man who grew a handsome handlebar mustache during Movember. The mustache wax featured above comes from Man’s Face Stuff, a small company started by two friends in Portland, OR. They offer a variety of scents including: All-Nighter (notes of fresh pipe tobacco, sweetened coffee, and just a hint of frankincense), Gin & Tonic (smells like gin and tonic), and Stiff Breeze(spruce, sage, and just a touch of green pepper). A can of Man’s Face Stuff Moustache Wax is just $9.
Another artisan mustache wax that just came on the market is from a company called Can You Handlebar? Their selling point is that their wax is all natural and contains no artificial scents. So if you’re looking for something to hold your ‘stache during the day without having to smell it, this is your wax. A can of Can You Handlebar? is $9.
Besides ammo, cigars and mini bottles of booze topped the list of reader suggestions. If you know a guy who enjoys a good stogie every now and then, a few of his favorite cigars placed in his stocking will catapult you to number one friend/son/brother/nephew. You can usually buy cigars individually at your local cigar shop. $3-$10 for one cigar
Mini-Bottle of Booze
You can buy the same mini-bottles of alcohol that airlines and hotels give patrons at most liquor stores. Pair a mini-bottle of whiskey with a favorite cigar to create a memorable manly-vice-themed stocking stuffer.
Ted Slampyak, AoM illustrator extraordinaire, co-authored an awesome graphic novel this year with writer and editor RA Jones (a fellow Tulsa resident) called Savage. It’s a fun read about a Wild West vampire slayer named Christian Savage who battles his own personal demons while fighting off actual demons from the infernal pit. If you like Ted’s illustrations and you enjoy a good vampire slayer tale, you’ll love Savage. You can buy a signed copy from Ted himself at his website for $16 or pick it up on Amazon.com. Check out Ted’s greatJazz Age comics too. $16
Once a staple Christmas gift for men, soap-on-a-rope has become the butt of Christmas gift jokes. For example, Bill Cosby once said, “Fatherhood is pretending the present you love most is soap-on-a-rope.” But I think soap-on-a-rope deserves a second chance. It’s just an amazingly convenient gift, especially for the man who showers away from home. Plus, the soaps that are attached to ropes tend to be the manly smelling kind. Like English Leather. Just like Grandpa uses. $6
Maintaining proper tire pressure will keep you safe and even save you a little dough. Improperly inflated tires — and this may mean over-inflated or under-inflated — don’t handle or stop as well as tires with the correct pressure. They also increase your chance of a blow out. Plus, tires with the correct pressure have a longer life and increase your fuel efficiency. A tire pressure gauge is an essential tool in properly maintaining your tire pressure. This tire gauge from Accu-Gage is one of the best in the industry and its $9 price tag puts it in stocking stuffer range. $9
You never know when you’ll need a good pair of work gloves. For a homeowner, they’re a necessity. There’s always some outside chore that requires hand protection. But even if you live in an apartment, it’s good to have a pair of gloves on hand for those times you need to go help a friend roof his house or clean out the yard of that little old lady in your church congregation. Because a pair of leather work gloves costs only $4 at most hardware stores, they’re a great stocking stuffer. A step up from the generic leather work gloves would be the gloves from Mechanix. Not only are they great for working around your yard and on your car, I can attest to their abilities to protect one’s hands during the GoRuck Challenge. $4-$11
Tins of Shoe Polish
I don’t know about you, but I always seem to be out of shoe polish whenever I actually need it. I’ll make a mental note to pick some up on my next trip the grocery store, and of course, I’ll go to the store and forget to buy some. The occasion will arise again when I need to shine my shoes and the vicious cycle repeats itself. It’d be nice just to have copious amounts of shoe polish tins in my shoe shine box so I’d never have to worry about buying a can ever again. I’m pretty sure if Santa left two or three cans in my stocking each year my wish would be a reality. At $4 a tin, it’s the perfect stocking stuffer. $4
Even as a grown man, I enjoy getting a kid’s toy in my stocking. It’s fun to have something to play with on Christmas morning and it just makes me feel like a boy again. You can’t go wrong with stuffing a stocking with an Imperial yo-yo from Duncan Yo-Yos. Besides giving a dad or uncle a chance to show off some cool tricks to the kiddos on Christmas morning, throwing the yo-yo is a surprisingly great activity for quieting the mind when you’re sorting through a problem. You can find yo-yo’s at most toy stores for about $4.
Every man should carry a handkerchief. They’ve got a bunch of uses — you’ll be surprised how often you’ll be glad you have one on you. And if it’s a handkerchief with a handsome design, you’ll enjoy carrying it all the more. The Beaver Canoe design from Mollyjogger featured above is quite nice, as is their angler design. For a great selection of other manly designs, I recommend checking out the Honey Press Esty shop. $3-$20.
Monkey socks have become all the rage in the form of sock-monkey-themed everything. But before they become a delightful stuffed animal for children, they actually start out as darn good socks — made in the USA of moisture-absorbing cotton and acrylic by the Fox River Mill. Available in different colors than monkey brown too. $14 for 2 pairs
Black Jack gum was first made by Thomas Adams all the way back in 1884. Made with aniseed, it was the first flavored gum made in the US and also the first gum to be offered in stick form. Adams’ company, American Chicle Co., then acquired Beeman’s in 1898 from its inventor, Edward E. Beeman. Beeman had incorporated pepsin in his recipe, a digestive enzyme, and Beeman’s became incredibly popular among pilots as an aid in both popping their ears and an antacid to settle their stomach acid during flight. Clove was another zippy flavor added by the company later on. These classic chewing gums were discontinued in the 70s and then brought back by Cadbury Adams and now make a great stocking stuffer for the man who wants to taste what Gramps was chomping on while playing stickball. $6 for a 20-pack box
Beards can get pretty itchy and unruly when they’re first starting out. Prospector Co.’s Beard Oil not only alleviates the itch of early beard growth, but leaves your face smelling masculine with hints of freshly chopped forest and the leathered richness of a cobbler’s apron. $28
Every man needs a pack of playing cards or two for busting out on a rainy day with your gal, playing poker with your friends, or hanging out over rummy with Gramps. There are a lot of stylized playing card designs out these days, but some are a little too much for me. I like something classy and traditional. These cards fit the bill; made in the USA, they come in a leatherette box, have a handsome blue or red plaid design, feature two majestic bucks as the jokers, and include some bonus extras like a crossword puzzle and a recipe for the world’s oldest known cocktail, the Sazerac. $10
Everyday Carry Items
According to the Every-Day Carry website, “Everyday Carry, or EDC, generally refers to small items or gadgets worn, carried, or made available in pockets, holsters, or bags on a daily basis to manage common tasks or for use in unexpected situations or emergencies. In a broader sense, it is a lifestyle, discipline, or philosophy of preparedness.” If you know a guy who ascribes to the EDC philosophy, nothing will delight him more than seeing some cool new pocket-sized things in his stocking. We’ve already covered pocket knives, flashlights, and handkerchiefs, but there are many more handy and neat things available. Creek Stewart, the Senior Instructor at the Willow Haven Outdoor School for Survival, Preparedness & Bushcraft, and pretty much my favorite AoM contributor of all time, carries a lot of great items in his store, like a manual military can opener, an EDC survival saw, and amini Swedish firesteel. By the way,while it probably won’t fit in a stocking, Creek’s recently released book – Build the Perfect Bug Out Bag: Your 72-Hour Disaster Survival Kit – should find a place under every man’s tree this year. I used its detailed, easy-to-follow instructions to finally put together my own BOB this year.
If you can’t decide on what everyday carry items to get, pick up the EDC kit available in theHuckberry General Store. Huckberry assembled an all-star EDC kit and put it on the best keyring money can buy. The kit include a stainless steel freekey with a push-to-open design, a 7 in 1 survival pod that contains paracord strings, fire starter flint and tinder, duct tape, and more, a screw key, and a tiny lighter than can be used as a candle. A little keyring kit with a lot of useful functions that just might save your life one day. Price varies
In 1942, Andy Farkas became the first NFL player to don eye black on the way to leading the Washington Redskins to a World Championship. Inspired by his grandfather’s legacy, his grandson has created Farkas Eye Black. Formulated by a Yale ophathamolotgist, Farkas eye black is designed to reduce glare and improve contrast sensitivity, stay on longer, resist heat, and come out of uniforms after the game. It’s also packaged in a handsome silver tin, which can be personally engraved for the athlete in your life. $12.95 ($24.95 for personally engraved tin) Update: If you use discount code artofmanliness” at checkout, you’ll get 20% off.
It used to be that when it came to buying beef jerky, your only option was the mass-produced , chemical-ridden, barely-edible corporate varieties available at your local gas station or grocer. These days, the beef jerky gods have been smiling upon us and many independent jerky makers have sprouted up. There are lots choices out there, and I always enjoy trying new ones. But thus far in my search for the perfect jerky, I can say with certainty that Field Trip Beef Jerky is the best I’ve ever tasted. All-natural and delicious. Try the Honey Spice!$30 for five bags
Matchcases are designed to keep your matches (or anything else, like pills) bone dry, no matter how inclement the conditions. There’s a matchcase being featured on a lot of sites this year that is a reproduction of an old 1900 design. Problem is, unlike the original, while it looks cool, it’s being reproduced in China, and word is, the quality is terrible. You don’t know want to take chances with an item like this. So get your matchcase from the best source around: K&M Matchcases. A true mom and pop operation based in Elk River, Idaho, their matchcases are made in the US, come with a compass in the top, feature a double o-ring seal, are guaranteed waterproof to 2000 PSI, and are backed with an unlimited lifetime warranty. These are the matchcases issued to US Air Force down-pilot rescue crews, and have been a favorite of soldiers, outdoorsmen, bushcrafters, and Antarctic explorers. They make a standard-size and a long; get the long so you’ll be sure to be able to fit your stormproof matches inside (include some matches if you’re giving as a gift!). $21
Getting a coffee-lover a bag of beans is a no-brainer. But which should you choose? Instead of grabbing a bag from Starbucks on Christmas Eve, try the Ariosa blend from the Arbuckles’ coffee company. Touted as the “Original Cowboy Coffee,” and the “Coffee That Won the West,” John and Charles Arbuckle first made their coffee way back in 1864, pioneering the practice of selling pre-roasted beans and putting them in 1lb sacks. Packages come with a peppermint stick, just as they did over a century ago. $16.95 for a pound
Whether tucked into a suit jacket or blazer, pocket squares add a nice pop of color — a bit of finished panache to a man’s getup. A breast pocket is naked without one. I like these silk knitted pocket squares from MS and Co. They’re a little pricey, but they’re made in the USA, packaged perfectly for a stocking stuffer, and have a nice texture. What can I say, I’m a big texture guy. If you don’t know what color to get, white is a fail-proof choice. If you’re on a budget, try one like this from the Tie Bar – white, but the blue border gives it a bit of interesting flair. $9-$35
We’ve extolled the benefits of the pocket notebook numerous times — they’re so handy for writing down ideas, to-do tasks, or just capturing your bored scribbling. There are a variety of great pocket notebooks out there. Field Notes are a classic, Made in America brand that have a nice vintage look to them. Rite in the Rain (available at a discount in the AoM x Huckberry Holiday store) are uber-cool because, well, you can write in them in the rain without losing your world-changing idea. And of course, I humbly suggest our Art of Manliness notebooks for recording your manly thoughts. I had a batch of these made last year and they sold out, so I created another bundle for the holidays. Price varies
Women seem to go gaga over chocolate more than men. But put chocolate together withbacon, and tiny tots won’t be the only ones with their eyes all aglow come Christmas morning. $12
Candles are incredibly handy for when the lights go out, and these are some of the longest lasting ever made. They burn cleanly without residue or dripping either. Might want to get a Made in America, windproof UCO lantern too, which are designed to hold the candles, and are handy for camping. $4.50
In addition to writing bestselling cookbooks and food articles for the Art of Manliness, Matt Moore started and runs a successful men’s cologne line with his college buddies calledMoonshine. With its manly, woodsy aroma, layered with hints of spice, including notes of black pepper, tobacco, leather, gin, and patchouli, Moonshine has become my go-to cologne. You can now enjoy that Moonshine scent all over yourself with their recently released Moonshine soap. They’re currently sold out, but taking pre-orders, and I was assured by Matt that they’ll be ready in time for Christmas. $11.95
Once a staple of the Mad Men era, tie bars have made a comeback in recent years. It’s a simple accessory that not only looks good, but keeps your tie in place when you have to chase an enemy spy through the streets of Morocco.While you can’t go wrong with a straight, silver tie bar, mix it up and have some fun with this mustache tie bar. Made from solid brass and coated in chrome, the mustache tie bar will be bound to get compliments because everyone these days seems to appreciate the ‘stache. $35
Every man needs a set of correspondence cards in his desk for jotting off thank you notes and the like. But most of the stationery available these days is made for women. Enter the AoM line of stationery made by Page Stationery. The cards are made from quality stock and there are 25 manly letterpress motifs to choose from, such as a revolver, compass, deer, pipe, and razor. $18 (The pice is listed at $20, but the discount to $18 will appear when you check out.)
If you’re going to put a pocket knife in a man’s stocking, he’ll also need a good sharpening stone to keep his blade in tiptop shape. You might also include a slip of paper with a link to our guide on how to sharpen a pocket knife. Smith’s Sharpening Kit has everything a man needs to start sharpening his knife – a medium-grained stone, a fine-grained stone, and oil.$13
Balsa Wood Airplanes
Another fun toy to give a man in his stocking stuffer is a balsa wood airplane. They’re easy to put together and you’ll have a blast tossing them around the house. The Duluth Trading Co. is offering a squadron of 12 made by a company that’s been making the planes here in America for decades. $27
Most men lather up using some green goop from a can. These mass-produced shaving creams smell like you should be cleaning the floor with them. Share the pleasure of shaving with natural shaving creams and soaps with manly scents like almond or sandalwood. They cost more than the drugstore variety, but last far longer. My personal favorite is thesandalwood-scented shaving cream from Art of Shaving. $25
Come see the Kell House decorated for the holidays
We have three ways for you to come see the Kell House decorated in all its Christmas finery this week before it’ll be closed until 2018!
Regular weekday tours will take place 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday (closed Wednesday) from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
We will be part of Downtown’s Candlewalk on Thursday, December 21st, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Come see our favorites Elves!
Or come enjoy the Kell House with a special Candelight tour on Saturday. December 23rd from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Admission is $5.
Tips for less stressful holiday travel
As the holiday season is upon us, it can be a stressful time for many, including for those traveling to visit family and friends. Follow these tips below to help make your holiday travel less stressful. See your mid-week News for other tips, along with more holiday fun in each edition of The Bowie News in November.
Tips for less stressful holiday travel
Roadways, railways and skies tend to get busy come the holiday season, when millions of people across the globe travel to visit family and friends.
Wherever travelers are headed, be it across the country or across the world, they should realize that many other people are traveling as well. That can lead to traffic, long lines and other side effects associated with large crowds. But before travelers let the idea of challenging travel conditions deter them, they can consider certain ways to make the process of getting from point A to point B a bit more manageable.
Travel by car
Those traveling by automobile will have a few extra steps to take to ensure their trips go off with minimal disturbances. One of the more important steps is to ensure the vehicle is properly maintained prior to departing. Have the car checked by a mechanic and take care of any service appointments, such as oil changes or tire rotations.
Map out the route in advance and have an alternative plan if the route chosen proves to be too congested. One idea is to choose a scenic drive that may be a little longer but has less traffic. In addition, account for rest stops or points of interest that can break up the trip. Apps such as GasBuddy can help drivers find the cheapest gas or the cleanest bathrooms along their routes.
Bring along plenty of snacks so you can eat healthy and arenÕt forced to rely on foods you otherwise would not eat. This is particularly helpful with keeping kids satiated. Plan for a few treats along the way so that everyone traveling has an end goal, such as an ice cream or a souvenir.
Traveling by plane
One of the key things air travelers can do to make holiday traveling easier is to avoid peak travel dates. Whenever possible, avoid traveling the day right before the holiday, which tends be the busiest and most expensive. Remember, weekends tend to be more harried and expensive as well, particularly when the holidays fall in close proximity to a weekend.
Weather is a gamble in many regions of the world during the holiday season. Develop a contingency plan just in case foul weather delays or cancels flights. ItÕs much less stressful to put plan B into motion than it can be to rush around trying to make new, last-minute plans.
Always shop around for the best rates, but also the best atmosphere. It may be wiser to fly out of a smaller airport where crowds will be thinner and delays less frequent, or you may prefer a larger airport thatÕs closer to home and offers more amenities.
Another way to avoid delays is to pack minimally. Ship gifts and even travel essentials ahead to your destination, and only bring carry-on bags aboard the plane. This helps travelers sail through security checks and avoid the crowds at the luggage carousels.
Holiday travel requires planning, patience and having alternative plans in place so that everyone can make it home for the holidays. TF169407
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