Having done numerous internet searches in the run up to birthdays and Christmas, I know I am not alone in finding it difficult to make gifts for the men in my life. Somehow it's easier to think of things to make for female friends and family, possibly because handbags, jewelry and scented candles can be given as many times as you like, as long as you pick a different design. Lots of lists for "gifts for men" are full of cliched, ugly, unhelpful ideas that would probably bore or insult a lot of the guys I know. This is a list of gifts that I have made and given that have been well received. Some of the suggestions may seem a little odd, but as with giving any gift, the best gifts are personal and thoughtful. If the friend is a little odd then the best gift will be too!
Food is a welcome gift for everyone, man or woman!
Homemade food gifts are lovely, and there's lots of ideas. Chocolate bark is an easy, no bake idea and there are loads of recipes around. I tried Martha Stewart's S'mores bark recipe last Christmas and lots of people asked for more. The trick with making chocolate bark is to use good quality chocolate - you could go even further and find out your loved one's favourite chocolate brand to make sure the gift appeals to their taste!
For bakers in the family, why not give them all the ingredients for their favourite biscuit or cookie in a jar? Kids Chaos has the instructions for some delicious cookies, the ingredients of which look great when layered in a jar!
For those not inclined to cook, shop bought food thoughtfully selected can make a food hamper, especially when put in a home decorated box or basket. My dad loves Christmas Pudding, and so I sought out a tiny, single portion pudding, so he didn't have to share it! Good quality coffee, a posh brand of tea bags, a favourite sweet treat, or even a guilty pleasure (do they have a strange fondness for pot noodles and ketchup?) can make a gift funny and personal.
Remember to take into account any allergies or intolerances others have. Food gifts, especially of treats, given to people with allergies and intolerences are often doubly appreciated!
Taking an interest in someone's hobby is a sure way to make a thoughtful gift. You can personalise gifts with applique or embroidery.
Sport: Small draw string bags for golf tees and balls. The same could be true for other sports. A tennis racket cover with a pocket for balls for example.
Team Themed Gift: Sports fans love things that feature the colours or logos of their favourite team. I used the free patchwork bear pattern from McCall's to make this Wigan Athletic bear for my brother, and this idea could easily be adapted to suit any sports team.
Cooking: Try an apron, oven gloves, potholders or a personalised tea towel.
Outdoors: Crochet or knit a warm hat, gloves or scarf for those who love to be outdoors. Fingerless gloves or wristers are great for those who like to do work with their fingers, such as gardeners, as it will keep their hands warm without impeding their ability to work with their hands. Fingerless gloves are also great for anyone who loves to write or type. This simple crochet tutorial is easy to follow along with and is adaptable to different striped patterns and sizes; make in your loved one's favourite colours.
One male friend of mine is an avid cosplayer, and I made him a sewing kit for Christmas, so he can repair any damage to costumes when he's away from home. This might not be a typical "masculine" present, but showing I understood his hobby was a great way to show I took an interest in his life.
Sewing a Gift: It's all in the fabric!
It's not just women who appreciate a homemade apron, quilt or cushion. Choosing a fabric thoughtfully makes all the difference.
My husband loves tartan fabrics, so I included lots of tartan squares when I made him this quilt.
My brother plays the guitar, so I took to ebay to find a guitar patterned fabric to make him a cushion.
Sometimes it can be expensive or difficult to get a fabric patterned with a particular theme, but you can usually find fat quarters on ebay for a couple of pounds. It's also worth keeping an eye out for special fabric when in the local fabric shop. If you can't get enough fabric to make a whole item, why not use a fat quarter to make a pocket or add some applique? Use a plain fabric in a matching or contrasting colour for the rest of the gift, and this can look very effective.