The 50 Best Gifts for Men
Prada's first male fragrance, say its makers, has a natural but seductive charm with scents of amber mingled with the evocative whiff of barber's soap that promises to leave a lasting impression. The bottle is a classic glass affair with an industrial cap and comes in a box with aftershave balm and shower gel - a kit to keep your man smelling, well, better than before.
Price: £49 - Prada (020-7494 6220)
North Face Etip glove
Gadgets and skiing do not sit well together - the summer Alpine thaw unearths dozens of dropped cameras, MP3 players and mobile phones - but these gloves, which could be worn as liners and are also great for cycling, are soft and warm and include silicon grips, which means you won't fumble your prized iPhone, as well as antistatic, silver-lined finger and thumb tips that work like skin to operate touch screens.
Price: £22 - Cotswold Outdoor (0844 557 7755; www.cotswoldoutdoor.com)
Cassini Historical Map
Old maps are endlessly fascinating but, like new ones, sod's law means the point of interest is usually stuck in the fold. Cassini's ingenious mapmaker allows you simply to type in any postcode and create site-centred maps for anywhere in England or Wales from dates 1805 to 1948. Add your own title and download it or get it printed and mounted, or even turned into a jigsaw. Independent readers get 12.5 per cent off online orders till 1 January using the code M-IND.
Price: from £6 (downloads); and £20 (mounted) - Cassini (08452 300 952; www.cassinimaps.co.uk)
Gary Rhodes 365
With his spiky hair, buff physique and frequent TV appearances, it's easy to forget that the Strictly Come Dancing flop is, beneath the hair gel, a cracking cook. Gary Rhodes's latest book, which offers a recipe for each day of the year, is his entry into the Delia Smith-led movement for simple cooking, but his recipes look and taste better.
Price: £25 - Amazon (www.amazon.co.uk)
MSN Webcam Missile Launcher
This dumb but fun weapon of mass distraction combines a missile launcher with an integrated webcam, letting you fire remotely at your foe from anywhere in theworld. Using Microsoft's MSN instantmessaging application, the launcher fires three foam missiles at a range of up to 15 feet and at an extremely fast rate. Office warfare will never be the same again.
Price: £49.95 - Firebox (0844 922 1010; www.firebox.com)
Cyclus Plaza L Messenger Bag
Imported from Bogota, Colombia, by a Brighton entrepreneur who was inspired while teaching in South America, Cyclus bags are made using salvaged (and cleaned) rubber inner tubing from truck tyres, plus other recycled man-made materials. The Plaza L has a Velcro flap that reveals a pocket and pen holder and will keep out all but the most penetrating downpours on the daily commute.
Price: £55 - Bagzontherun (01273 398771; www.bagzontherun.com)
Some will never be convinced to swap paper for brushed aluminium, but for those who do want to get their hands on an e-book, Sony's offering is easily the most covetable on the market. Reassuringly weighty and with a luxurious leather cover and convincingly paper-like digital screen, it is a pleasure to hold and will store 160 e-books. Much better than lugging a pile of books on holiday - just keep it away from the pool.
Price: £199 - Waterstones (0800 328 5723; www.waterstones.com)
The Godfather Trilogy
There's no guarantee this will be the last addition to the Godfather family of merchandise and re-released re-releases, but it might just be the best. Francis Ford Coppola himself returned to the studio to oversee the year-long frame-by-frame restoration of his trio of films to produce a five-disc collector's boxset that includes two discs of special features plus film commentaries by FCC.
Price: £29.99 - Amazon (www.amazon.co.uk)
Nespresso Essenza Touch
Nestlé's luxury coffee system has gone from strength to strength, thanks in no small part to the pretty decent espresso it knocks out in an instant using handy pods. Then there's the huge marketing campaign headed by George Clooney. The Essenza Touch has a powdercoated finish making it tactile and seriously smart. It's available in red or grey finish. And if it's good enough for George...
Price: £119 - Nespresso (0800 442442; www.nespresso.com)
Price: £200 - Tomy (023-8066 2600; www.tomy.co.uk)" >
I-Sobot, officially the world's "smallest mass produced bi-pedal humanoid robot", is the latest addition to the very crowded toy robot market. Measuring just 16cm tall, he comes ready to play and can perform gymnastics, dances and kung fu. There's a remote control and he can speak 200 phrases and can even be taught to respond to voice commands. A model man, then.
Price: £200 - Tomy (023-8066 2600; www.tomy.co.uk)
Price: £15 - www.amazon.co.uk" >
Debrett's Guide for the Modern Gentleman
The singular authority on matters of etiquette and taste has just launched a guide that promises to whip even the basest man into shape. A compendium of masculinity, it offers advice and insight on everything from grooming and fitness to interiors and how to select the best vintage, while a section on "the new chivalry" deals with, er, bedroom behaviour.
Price: £15 - www.amazon.co.uk
Belt-attachable and water-resistant to 50 metres, this sturdy timepiece comes with foldout scissors, a knife, a compass and an ultra-bright micro-light to show you the way across deserts or through jungles (or to illuminate your front door on the journey from car to house). It's solid and would be ideal on the mountain, where pulling back sleeves and gloves to reveal a watch can be tiresome.
Price: £70 - Extime (08707 555333; www.extime.com)
If you haven't discovered the delights of online DVD rental then you must catch up. LOVEFiLM has over 65,000 titles to choose from. Simply go online, build up a wish list, and wait for the postman. When you're finished (take your time), post the film back and wait for the next one. This gift box includes four, six or 12-month subscriptions. Spend more £32 and get Time Out's 1000 Films to Change Your Life thrown in to get him started.
Price: from £16 - LOVEFiLM (www.lovefilm.com/gifts)
Smoked Salmon Gift Set
The ultimate gift for the smoked salmon-loving foodie, this whole side of the Forman family's famous London cure, as served at the Sandy Lane resort in Barbados, is low in salt and delicately smoky. The 1.35kg of fish comes with a hardwood board, sprung pliers to pluck out pin bones; and an engraved knife with a rosewood handle. Smaller packs are available from £9.50.
Price: £115 - Forman & Field (020-8525 2352; www.formanandfield.com)
Veho VFS-004 Negative and Slide Scanner
Perfect for the man who likes a hobby. This one will involve a trip to the attic to retrieve those stacks of negatives for photos that are either faded or forgotten. Scan them into your computer, use the software that comes with this gadget to edit them, then archive them, turn them into a slide show, stick them on Facebook or get reduxed prints to make a best-of album. Bring on the blasts from the pasts.
Price: £79.99 - Veho (www.veho-uk.com)
Price: £180 for two hours - Spa InterContinental (020-7318 8691; www.spaintercontinental.com)" >
MOT for Men
If your man can't be dragged into the gym to work on his silhouette, then why not compromise with two hours of pampering that promises to raise him on the jacks, reach beneath his bonnet and roll him out good as new(or at least well serviced). This "MOT" begins with a luxury shave and face scrub followed by a deep-tissue massage and the all-important male manicure.
Price: £180 for two hours - Spa InterContinental (020-7318 8691; www.spaintercontinental.com)
It's all very well making iPods that play films, but straining your eyes to watch something on a titchy screen is no fun. This pocketable device, which comes with a remote control, will connect to almost any iPod, phone, or digital camera and miraculously fling film or photos on to a wall, producing an instant, 50-inch screen out of thin air. It's also ideal for business presentations, but there's certainly no fun in that.
Price: £300 - Firebox (0844 922 1010; www.firebox.com)
Sonnets, Bonnets & Bennets
A must for those who think they know their literature, this compendium of bookishness penned by James Walton, the writer and presenter of Radio 4's book quiz The Write Stuff, includes the unexpected (who's the only person in literary history both to have been shortlisted for the Booker Prize and to have played a girlfriend of Ken Barlow's in Coronation Street?) alongside the more serious.
Price: £12.99 - Amazon (www.amazon.co.uk)
Port and Stilton Hamper
A grown-up hamper for grown-up gents, this Christmas classic includes a rustic ceramic jar filled with top-notch Stilton from Cropwell Bishop, one of the country's most prestigious and award-winning houses. Handmade vintage cheddar and chive crackers from Popina and a bottle of Fonseca's Terra Prima Port complete the package. Leather armchair and pipe not included.
Price: £33 - Abel & Cole (08452 626364; www.abelandcole.co.uk)
Brick USB Memory Stick
One worries that gadget designers will run out of ideas for memory sticks - I have one shaped as a fortune cookie in my desk drawer - but with this Lego-inspired (but unofficial) offering they might just have come up with a classic. It comes with a key ring and breaks in half, but you needn't risk losing the cap - just fix it to the top of the stick itself to build a mini memory tower.
Price: £25 (2GB); £35 (4GB) - Firebox (0844 922 1010; www.firebox.com)
Aspinal Exotic Billfold Wallet
Handmade in wonderfully smooth English bridle leather and lined with ethically sourced snakeskin with a glistening almost translucent finish, this wallet from Aspinal of London, the go-to store for gents' gear, is available in a range of colours including classic brown and black as well as rainbow, which will add colour to your money (even if there's less of it these days).
Price: £69 - Aspinal of London (0845 052 6900; www.aspinaloflondon.com)
Its timeless design still makes Roberts's classic radio the best-looking wireless on the market and the British company has effortlessly gone digital without sacrificing its 1950s styling. This new addition to the Revival range comes in gleaming piano-gloss black with gold plated fittings and is a thing of beauty. It also allows you to connect your iPod and, unlike most modern gadgets, proudly boasts good old knobs for controls.
Roberts (01709 571722; www.robertsradio.co.uk)
Price: £25 - ZTT (020-7229 1229; www.ztt.com)" >
The ZTT Boxset
Released to mark the 25th anniversary of Zang Tumb Tuum, the label founded by Paul Morley, Jill Sinclair and Trevor Horn, this glorious four-disc celebration of all things Eighties features hits such as Frankie Goes to Hollywood's "Relax", alongside lesser-known works by the likes of the Frames, Heights of Abraham and Tara. Several videos and a book featuring interviews, biographies and photos complete a fine collection.
Price: £25 - ZTT (020-7229 1229; www.ztt.com)
Italian Cookery with Ice Cream-Making Course
If your man's hopeless behind the hobs and shows no signs of wishing to improve, he might be tempted by a three-day trip to Sorrento. He'll learn to cook simple southern Italian dishes in an authentic rustic Italian kitchen and, on day three, have a bash at making gelato. If all goes to plan, this is a gift that will keep on giving.
Price: from £253 - Go Learn To (0845 625 0465; www.golearnto.com)
No self-respecting man should be without a penknife, even if all it does is cut clothing labels and, possibly, help put the shelves up. Whether you're a Ray Mears-a-like or just a housebound handyman, Leatherman's Skeletool is a prince among penknifes. With drilled bits to save weight it also has a screwdriver, a blade, pliers and wire cutters.
Price: £60 - Cotswold Outdoor (0844 557 7755; www.cotswoldoutdoor.com)
Every schoolboy's dream - to design his own trainers - has come true thanks to Nike, whose iD website allows you to choose from thousands of colours and fabric types to customise everything from a classic pair of Nike Air Pegasus to T-shirts and football boots. If you're low on inspiration, get a voucher for an appointment with a design consultant at a NIKEiD Studio.
NIKEiD (020-7612 0990; www.NikeiD.com)
Bang & Olufsen BeoSound 6
We all know exactly what iPods look like and where to buy them. If you want to check out the neglected competition in the MP3 player market you'll struggle to find something as classy as the BeoSound 6. Crafted in steel, glass and with a leather case, it is reassuringly solid and offers unrivalled sound piped through B&O's excellent earphones. The player holds 4GB and has a 40-hour battery life.
Price: £350 - B&O(0800 138 0525; www.bang-olufsen.com)
LeRoy Grannis, Surf Photography of the 1960s and 1970s
What surf enthusiast doesn't want to be reminded of the sport in deepest English winter? This stunning coffee table book charts how an obscure activity practised by Hawaiian islanders over 500 years ago had begun, by the 1960s, to take California - and later the world - by storm. Drawn from the personal archive of lifelong surfer LeRoy Grannis, the photos depict the beginnings of a wave that would spawn its own culture.
Price: £25 - Taschen (020-7845 8585; www.tachen.com)
Prestat Christmas box
A nice little seasonal box of choccy goodness from the Queen's chocolatiers. It includes hazelnut clusters, ginger fudge and rose and violet crèmes among other mouth-watering delights. Prestat, chocolatiers to the Queen, has perfected the assortment to ensure that it includes as many of their customers' favourite chocolates as possible and each one has been created to tantalise the taste buds.
Price: £12.50 - Prestat (0800 021 3023; www.prestat.co.uk)
It's a wonder the boffins at Nintendo HQ have taken so long to turn their considerable talents for motion-sensing controllers (the Wii is the games console that allows you to play tennis or box in your living room) to music. Their new game features a range of music styles, plus the sounds ofmore than 60 instruments, letting all the family (or groups of drunk friends) re-create and perform their own interpretations.
Price: £40 - Nintendo (0870 606 0247; www.nintendo.co.uk)
Price: £14 - Paul Smith (0115-968 5979; www.paulsmith.co.uk)" >
Christmas would not be complete without a pair of socks and you'd do worse than to wrap this snazzy pair from Paul Smith. Available in a range of colours with bold stripes that means you'll never mix them up in the wash, they're finished with a "hand-linked toe" (which, I'm reliably informed, is always good in a sock), and will fit any shoe size.
Price: £14 - Paul Smith (0115-968 5979; www.paulsmith.co.uk)
TomTom GO 740 LIVE
Some of us hate satnavs, but if you must ditch your real map you might as well invest in a route finder that isn't going to direct you into the middle of a field. As well as providing unmatched mapping, this TomTom offers, among other features, live traffic information, fuel prices, weather and Bluetooth connectivity (use it as a hands-free kit). Common sense not included (but rechargeable batteries are).
Price: £349 - John Lewis (08456 049049; www.johnlewis.com)
Price: £41.95 (70cl) - Drinks Direct (0870 766 1470; www.drinksdirect.co.uk)" >
Laguvulin 16-Year-Old Malt Whisky
A whisky fan I know has nominated this robust malt, which has an unmistakable aroma (heavy and powerful with overtones of peat smoke, I'm told) as the whisky of choice for the man who knows. "It's incredibly smooth given that it's one of the peatier Islay malts," he says. "It's quietly very popular and if you give it to an aficionado, he'll know to properly thank you."
Price: £41.95 (70cl) - Drinks Direct (0870 766 1470; www.drinksdirect.co.uk)
Mulberry Hand Clipper
This timeless travel bag with a detachable strap is a luggage investment for life. Hand crafted in finest leather, it's lined with luxurious suede and includes a luggage tag, a hidden padlock in a hanging leather pouch and an internal slip pocket. It's easily small enough to take as cabin baggage, which is a good thing because you won't want to let it out of your sight.
Price: £695 - Mulberry (01761 234230; www.mulberry.com)
Alexander McQueen Aztec Scarf
Knitted from pure wool in varying green tones, this winter warmer shows off Alexander McQueen's flamboyant (and frequently pricey) design aesthetic, yet is pleasingly understated and affordable. Inspired by ancient Aztec designs, it is highly detailed and effortlessly stylish.
Price: £75 - Liberty (020-7734 1234; www.liberty.co.uk)
Gear 4 Duo
This ingenious speaker dock includes a powerful (20 watt) sub-woofer that doubles as a charging unit. Detach the 18-watt satellite speaker from the front and take your iPod into the garden or other room, before slotting it back on to the sub for bass-rich sound. It's a sleek addition to any man pad and is compatible with pretty much anything in the iPod/iPhone range.
Price: £150 - Gear4 (www.gear4.com)
La Maison du Chocolat Tamanaco
If you're going to get a chocolate-based gift, you ought to make it a properly posh one. The assortment of five pure ganache (four dark and one slightly caramelised milk) chocs in this elegant box are made with cocoa beans from different origins and each is more delicious than the last. Just make sure you're around when he opens them - they won't touch the sides.
Price: £40 - La Maison du Chocolat (020-7287 8500; www.lamaisonduchocolat. co.uk)
Black & Decker Autowrench
The ultimate solution to the common problem of the-box-of-assorted-spanners-that-always-ends- up-scattering-its- contents-over- the-cupboard-floor-and-never- actually-has-a-spanner -of-the-right-size, this ingenious adjustable wrench from B&D is battery operated and, at a touch of a button, will tighten itself to fit most household nuts and bolts. Job's a good'un.
Price: £30 - www.amazon.co.uk
Aspinal Shoe-Cleaning Kit
Don't let him keep his brushes and polish in a grubby bag under the stairs when he can store them in this beautifully crafted Aspinal case made of English bridle leather. Delivered in a protective dustbag, it includes neutral shoe cream with beeswax, black wax polish, one natural and one black shoe brush for buffing or applying polish, a suede brush and a fine-quality duster.
Price: £65 - Aspinal of London (0845 052 6900; www.aspinaloflondon.com)
Whether you see them as shackles or indispensable aids, Blackberries have done to communication what Apple did to the way we listen to music. The latest model, Storm, is the first to feature a touch screen. Slightly soft, it responds instantly to your touch, allowing you to email, text, surf, and call at will. It also includes a decent camera and supports video. The must-have gadget this Christmas.
Price: free with contract (from £35 a month) - Vodafone (08080 044423; www.vodafone.co.uk)
Price: £5.99 - Berlitz (01476 541080; www.berlitzpublishing.com)" >
Britain's bestselling phrase book has just been given the ubiquitous "i-" prefix and you know what that means - you can now download it on to you iPod. Available in French, German, Italian, Spanish and Mandarin, the virtual book contains thousands of words, phrases and expressions with audio and pictures. Its intuitive menus should mean no more fumbling pages at hotel receptions.
Price: £5.99 - Berlitz (01476 541080; www.berlitzpublishing.com)
Master of Wine Selection
The team of wine buffs at Berry, which includes three masters of wine, have pulled together six of their favourite finds from the old and new worlds into one eclectic gift box. Here's the line-up: 2005 Riesling Belzbrunnen, Domain Dirler-Cade; 2007 Nolan Chardonnay; 2004 Ch. Rousselle; 2005 Chianti II Cavaliere Grati; 2006 Smith & Hooper Cabernet/Merlot; 2006 Ara Composite Pinot Noir.
Price: £63 - Berry Bros & Rudd (0870 900 4300; www.bbr.com)
Price: $19 plus postage - Busted Tees (www.bustedtees.com)" >
Busted Tee Free Tibet
This Free Tibet* (*with purchase of another Tibet of equal or greater value) T-shirt is typical of the up-to-minute satire a bunch of US college graduates emblazon on their Busted line of clothing. There are dozens of designs printed on American Apparel gear, including "Palin/Plumber 2012", a mock election ticket, which, say the guys at Busted, "doubles as the title of the worst sci-fi porno in movie history".
Price: $19 plus postage - Busted Tees (www.bustedtees.com)
The problem with techy heartrate- monitoring watches favoured by gadget hounds who also like pounding the pavement is that they traditionally look ridiculous. But this black polished number from Suunto, who lead the field in sports watches, is smart enough to wear full time. A host of features will help you monitor your exercise intensity in the gym or on the road.
Price: £100 - Cotswold Outdoor (www.cotswoldoutdoor.com; 0844 557 7755)
Conceived by London Marathon founder Chris Brasher, the firm's quintessentially English boots are a design classic. It now also does a range of shoes designed not just for the hills of Snowdonia, where Brasher decided traditional walking boots just weren't snug enough, but also on streets or, at a stretch, in the office. Ideal for travelling, the Bosolis have nubuck uppers and wonderfully comfortable soles.
Price: £80 - Brasher (0191-516 5780; www.brasher.co.uk)
Bose Around Ear Headphones
Why put up with the tinny proprietary earphones that come with most well-known MP3 players when you could invest in something that does your favourite music justice. Bose offers smooth and rich sound in an ergonomic, lightweight package that delivers the nuances conventional headphones often lose. Ideal for plugging in on the move or to hook up to a laptop for better appreciation of films.
Price: £99 - Bose (0800 085 9021; www.bose.co.uk)
Nostalgic Liquorice Pipes
Made by the Saint Valentines Liquorice Company, these pointless sticks of sweetness shaped as pipes are really rather wonderful. They evoke the sweets of a bygone era and are made with top quality liquorice root in Denmark.A knobbly end means the pipes hang out of ones mouth until the temptation to bite becomes too great (not very long then).
Price: £8.95 - Liberty (020-7734 1234; www.liberty.co.uk)
Price: £24.95 - Ollypop (01840 211079; www.ollypop.co.uk)" >
This nifty towel got a lukewarm reception on BBC2's Dragons' Den but the little Cornish company has proved Jones and co wrong by making a success of their surf accessory. The only towel to be endorsed by the British Surfing Association, it features a board design with hand and foot prints in the correct position to help you practice your "pop-up" on the beach - or the bathroom floor.
Price: £24.95 - Ollypop (01840 211079; www.ollypop.co.uk)
Rapha Fixed Jacket
London-based Rapha has cornered the market in high-end bike gear and for good reason - the company's road-biking jackets, jerseys and shorts, which are designed by riders, are beautifully made and combine the best-quality technical features with classic styling. New this winter is the fixed jacket, an elegant urban classic with a tailored cut.
Price: £230 - Rapha (020-7485 5000; www.rapha.cc)
The Canvas Collection
This London-based printer will slap any image you send on to top-quality canvas, stretched over a wooden box frame. Keep it simple or why not turn that favourite snap of your man into Warhol-inspired Pop art. And if your own photos aren't up to much, choose from a selection of images taken by the site's crack team of featured photographers.
Price: from £50 - Canvas Collection (01491 845975; www.canvasartcollection. co.uk)
Going shopping for dad, grandad or the little chaps? Simon Usborne’s got festive treats for all of them
>> Click the image to the right to launch the 50 best Gifts for Men
Have we overlooked some of your favourites? Leave your suggestions below.
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