Ask anyone, save for the star of a quirky romcom, and they'll probably tell you Valentine's Day is the worst. This holiday only exists because people love complaining about it so much — and because as a society we need something to break up the dull, freezing-cold monotony that is the month of February. But commercial gift giving can be totally fun once the initial fear of getting your boo something they'll completely hate subsides a bit. When else will you have the opportunity to waste your money on stuff your S.O. doesn't really need, and only kind of wants? When else will you be able to put a tangible price on love? When else will you be able to say things like “we go together like Kanye and Kanye” with a straight face and sort of mean it?
It’s true, however, that some partners can be incredibly hard to shop for. Men, especially, tend to come up short when asked about their preference for gifts. Don’t get me wrong, “beer and sex” is great, sure, but doesn’t exactly honor the day’s holiday spirit.
With that in mind, we embarked on an investigation to figure out just what guys actually want to receive this Valentine’s Day. From perfume with the slight air of cherry Coke to a powerful massager that pummels the pain away, here are our top picks for men’s Valentine’s Day gifts — straight from the source.
1. Criterion Channel Subscription
If bae is a bit of a film buff, Yang-Yi Goh, GQ’s commerce editor, suggests surprising them with a subscription to the Criterion Channel. “Nothing says ‘I love you’ quite like somebody sitting through an obscure three-hour Taiwanese movie with you.”
2. Hardy Hiking Boots
For the adventurer in your life, you might want to try upgrading them to some quality camping or hiking gear. Chihao, 24, says “I would rather get a gift that aligns with my hobbies than the traditional chocolate and stuffed bear exchange. If REI says these are good, then I’m good.”
3. Tickets To A Concert Or Live Podcast
If you think your dude would prefer dinner and a show rather than a material gift, consider getting them a pair of tickets to a concert or live podcast — something that demonstrates how well you know them. “I’m a huge nerd and I’ve listened to WWDTM since I was a kid… so that would be an awesome trip,” says Thor, 26.
4. A Pair Of Noise-Cancelling Wireless Headphones
For a music lover, a proper pair of wireless headphones is a great V-Day surprise. These noise-cancelling ones also show that you respect their need for alone time to unwind.
5. Their New Favorite Everyday Cologne
“A perfume or a cologne is the kind of thing that no guy buys for himself but always likes to have,” says Daniel Varghese, associate editor at New York Mag’s The Strategist. “I smelled this yesterday and it was great, like a super fancy cherry Coke.”
6. An Everyday Leather Watch
Ian, 25, recommends a functional but quality watch — especially one that doesn’t break the bank. “This one has a leather band but doesn’t cost more than my rent.”
7. A Funny Gag Gift
Wyatt, 27, says “I don’t think this needs an explanation, but I always enjoy a gag gift.” If your partner has a dad joke sensibility, show them how much you appreciate their sense of humor with something silly and personal.
8. A Piece Of Signature Jewelry
“Since I recently got married, I’ve gotten into wearing nice jewelry,” says Ian, 30. A quality, everyday necklace like this one is great, especially since we’re living in the Golden Age Of Men Wearing Chains, thanks to Connell’s performance in Normal People. Plus, they’ll think of you every time they put it on.
9. A Keepsake Photo Of You Two
Especially if you’ve recently taken some memorable pictures together, your partner might appreciate keeping them close. Rather than a traditional frame, these personalized photo keychains are a unique (and functional!) way to display your favorite memories.
10. A High-End Bottle Of Their Favorite Liquor
You can rarely go wrong with a high-quality whiskey. Add some class to your man’s Old Fashioned with a really nice bottle of bourbon.
11. Some Fancy Charcuterie
Logan, 26, says, “What man doesn’t love meat and cheese?” Enough said.
12. An At-Home Massager
For the gym bro in your life, try the massage gun beloved by the pros (or one of the more affordable alternatives). “True love is giving your man the gift of a way to completely obliterate their sore muscles after a workout,” says Brandon, 32.
13. Some New Sexy Briefs
Does your partner keep the items in their underwear drawer well past a reasonable retirement date? Help them take their brief game to the next level — a gift for both of you, really.
14. Their Favorite Shake Add-In
If the only place your partner would rather be other than your bed is the gym, keep that in mind. Robert, 25, says that a tub of creatine would be a great V-Day gift. “Just don’t confuse it with protein powder.”
15. A Staycation For You Two
Dillon, 28, says, “I buy myself everything I need. So an experience is always nice — maybe a short staycation an hour away or something.” Plan it down to the wire so they don’t have to think about a dang thing, or opt for an Airbnb gift card if you know mapping out the trip is half the fun for them.
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