Gift Guide For The Low Maintenance Guy

I’ll be the first to admit that I love nice things. I’d like to consider myself low maintenance, but I’m sure my fiancé would beg to differ LOL. I’ve got more makeup in my repertoire than a professional makeup artist, and I’ve probably got enough clothes to dress a small country [a small, female country, that is]. I like to look and feel good #noshame.

On the opposite end of the spectrum lies my fiancé. He is the most low maintenance, low key, doesn’t-need-anything kinda guy. The only time he spends money on clothes is when he stumbles upon a huge sale and gets a ton of stuff for really cheap. When he really needs something, he buys it. He doesn’t get excited about gifts that most guys would get excited about. Which, when it comes to gift giving, is fun for me, but also very challenging. Oh, and did I mention his birthday also falls in December?

I know my guy isn’t the only dude out there that’s difficult to shop for. And since I’m currently immersed in the throes of shopping for not only Christmas gifts, but birthday gifts as well, I thought I’d throw together a little gift list for the “no frills” guy in your life. Especially since all the bloggers out there seem to focus on gift guides for a guy who’s a little higher maintenance. Not all of us have a guy like that! I know for sure my fiancé would not be excited about cologne, loafers, or a custom paperweight for his desk. So here’s my holiday gift guyde [see what I did there?] for your manly man, low-key, low-maintenance dude.

You can’t go wrong with a duffel bag. My fiancé has been in dire need of one since I met him. The one he’s been lugging around no longer zips and is ripping apart at all the seams [he’s honestly probably had the thing for 15 years]. I’m truly surprised he’s never had anything fall out of it and get lost. It was extremely hard to find one that I knew he’d like, though. They just don’t make ’em like they used to. Most of the duffels I found were on the smaller side and had more of an overnight bag feel than a rectangular, weekender bag [they were also too feminine for my guy’s taste – he’s definitely manly and needs a bag that reflects that, silly as that sounds]. After purchasing several different ones and returning them, I stumbled upon a brand called Timbuk2. It’s masculine, durable, and similar to the style he’s had all this time. Perfect for the guy with the disintegrating duffel bag.

A food and beverage tour of your city! Whether it’s just the two of you or you go with a group, the best way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Especially when said guy is a total foodie [and was executive chef at a restaurant when I met him]. We actually went on a food tour in Seattle earlier this year, during a birthday [and engagement!] trip for me. It was so much fun and such a great way to experience the culture of the city. Even though we are both born and raised in Sacramento, we rarely make it to the downtown area. Doing a food tour will be a great way to hang in our hometown while experiencing some of the amazing cuisine our city has to offer. With a gift like this, your guy, and his stomach, will be thanking you for weeks to come.

Tickets, tickets, TICKETS! Tickets are a great stocking-stuffer due to their size. My fiancé is a huge sports fan and also loves lives music, so tickets to a pro game or a concert are a great way to spruce up a date night and see some action! Luckily you can get cheap[ish] tickets on Stubhub and Ticketmaster. Even if you have nosebleed seats, it’s still a really fun way to spend time together. Plus, you’ll score major girlfriend/wife points for doing something he loves to do.

A “choose your own adventure” day. Plan a date that revolves all around him. What does he love to do? Drink beer? Go to the gym? See movies? Does he have a passion for old cars? There are tons of things you can come up with, and it spices up the date a bit by giving him some options to choose from, without knowing exactly what ideas you have in mind. Breakfast in bed or brunch on the town? Movie night on the couch or dinner and a movie? The options are endless! Plus, your dude will love being spoiled, especially during the holiday season when he’s no doubt working his butt off at work.

Give him a gift that caters to his homebody, nerdy side. If he loves to read, get him a book by his favorite author. If he’s a movie buff, throw a couple DVDs and his favorite candy in his stocking. I got my fiancé a video game that he recently rented and loved. A simple gift, but something that’s mindless that they can relax, unwind and decompress with. There’s nothing better than taking your mind off of life stresses, especially during the holidays.

Slippers! I know this is the most cliché holiday gift, EVER, but you really can’t go wrong. If your man is anything like mine, he wears the F out of his slippers year round. And, much to my benefit, he recently stepped in dog poo in our yard [thanks Bella!], which gives me the perfect excuse to get him a new pair. I got his current pair at Target last year for around $10, and will probably do the same again. A low-maintenance guy really doesn’t need a pair of pricey Ugg slippers.

Treat him to a relaxing massage and/or spa day. Believe it or not, some men love to be pampered. A lot my dad’s friends get manis and pedis just because the massages are so good [and, truth be told, it feels really good to have your hands and feet really scrubbed and cleaned – even a man can’t deny that]. But if your guy isn’t into the more feminine spa treatments, he’ll definitely love a relaxing massage in the dead of winter. There’s nothing like a revitalizing and soothing massage to get him recharged for the upcoming year. And the bonus is that you can join him! Can you say couple’s massage?

Get him a flannel from Costco. Seriously. Every man loves a good, comfy flannel. And Costco has some really good ones. They are thick, cozy and great quality. Perfect for lounging around the house in with the slippers you got him [wink, wink], or for throwing over a t-shirt to head out to run errands. There’s nothing a low-key guy loves more than clothing versatility.

I hope this gift guide helps you a little as you set out for your holiday honey purchases. And while practical gifts are great, I’m really big on gifting time. Spending time with your loved ones is truly the best gift you can give anyone. Especially during the holidays.

Something that my family and I love to do this time of year is “adopt” a family. Through a program, you receive a list from parents who can’t afford to provide a Christmas for their kids, and so we purchase gifts from the list and give them to the parents to give their kids. On occasion, we will buy odds and ends for the parents, too. They’re doing what they can to make ends meet for their family – they deserve a Christmas, too! This is something wonderful and heartwarming you can do with your family and friends as well. There’s no better feeling than giving to those who are less fortunate than us.

Happy Hearts

Whoever decided to plop Valentine’s Day on the calendar only a month-and-a-half into the new year should be shot. And not by Cupid.

Okay, okay. Maybe not that drastic. But how cruel is it, though? I mean, most of us look at the new year as a clean slate. A chance to make some changes. The opportunity to turn a corner. We’re all delirious from the high that only the promise of a new year can bring.. And then *BAM!* a horrendously rude reminder that, even though you’re sticking to your resolutions and feeling really good about yourself, you are still, in fact, single as fuck.

Oh, and since it’s National Single Awareness Day and you’re now undoubtedly lonely and depressed, here’s several pounds of chocolate candy [in the shape of a heart, of course] to stuff your face with while you wallow in self pity and throw yourself completely off course from your newly implemented new years diet.

Saint Valentine.. More like Cynic Valentine.

I haven’t always hated Valentine’s Day. In fact, as a child, I loved it. I looked forward to decorating my little mailbox into which all the valentines from my fellow classmates would go. I always got so excited to pick out valentines cards at the store – usually it was some Disney princess of some sort. And then going through your mailbox after passing around cards and getting to eat candy and seeing what everybody else picked out for their Valentine’s Day cards – I loved it! It was actually fun. And fair. Everybody passed out Valentines. And everybody received them. Nobody ever felt left out.

And then junior high happened. And Valentine’s Day became a popularity contest. If you didn’t get flowers and candy then you were basically a troll. And that’s about the time that I decided Valentine’s Day was a shitty made-up holiday that was for saps and weaklings.

And since then I’ve really never cared much for the holiday. Even the years that I’ve had boyfriends I’ve adamantly refused to acknowledge the day nor celebrate it in any way.

BUT, despite aaallllllll of the years I’ve devoted to hating Valentine’s Day, I’ve realized in my advancing age [ha!] that being negative is downright exhausting. So instead of expelling useless energy on despising the holiday, this year I’ve decided to embrace it as a day that means recognizing ALL of the people we love, not just the ones we’re spending forever with [or, for some of us, for now].

And, really, we shouldn’t need a designated holiday to remind us to tell those close to us how much we love and cherish them. We should tell them every day. We should do little things throughout the year to show them we care.

See? Even the blackest of hearts can get warm and fuzzy sometimes..

Thanks for the Memories

Earlier this evening, while sharing a homemade pizza with my parents, I learned some sad news about a friend of mine from high school. A couple of weeks ago, while she and her husband of four years were having dinner (as they do every night), he casually mentioned, as if having a normal conversation, that he no longer saw a future with her and didn’t want to be married anymore. That night, he packed his things and moved out.

While devastating for my friend (especially because she is thousands of miles away on the east coast, far removed from family and really any friends), I realized how lucky she is to have such a great relationship with her family, even if they are so far away from her.

While we all know by now how much I believe in a woman’s independence, I do, however, believe that there is someone out there that is right for me – and had that someone pulled that kind of BS on me, I would be so, SO grateful that I have such a wonderful network of family and friends to keep me going through such a difficult time.

With the holidays literally just around the corner, and with a day devoted to giving thanks just a mere handful of hours away, I thought it appropriate to send out a little blast to the people in my life who make every day worth living. To my family and friends – I just wanted to say thank you. Thank you for the endless love and support and for always believing in me even when at some points I didn’t even believe in myself. Thank you for lifting me up when I was down and making me laugh when I wanted to cry. Thank you for always encouraging me and pushing me to do and be my very best. Life truly is better when you surround yourself with good and positive people. I am so very lucky to have the best family and friends that a girl could ever hope for.

And, while we’re here, to the people who are no longer a part of my life (for one reason or another) – thank you for helping to shape me into the person I am today. Without whatever drama or problems you may have caused me, I never would have learned from the situations and realized that the things I thought I wanted out of life were actually not what I wanted out of life. I am who I am today, and I’ve bettered myself thus far because of all of you who tried to bring me down. So thank you for making me realize that I am a better person than I was allowing myself to be. Thank you for making me realize that my initial path in life wasn’t so bad after all.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you who might happen to come across this post. You should always be grateful for the people in your life, but take special care to thank those loved ones this week. Whether your family is made up of blood or just people that are close to you, family is family. Family is forever. And blood is thicker than water.

Thanks for Giving

Pumpkins and cornucopias and turkeys – oh my!

I’m sure all of you are right in the middle of your pre-Thanksgiving fast (no real food for the next two weeks.. Juice, juice, juice!), and mentally preparing yourselves for the substantial loss your bank account is about to take due to all of the holiday food (and Black Friday shopping) that is to come. However, while we all selfishly await the approach of the holiday that is supposed to reflect the love and appreciation we have for each other, maybe it’s time we actually sit and think a minute about what we truly are grateful for.

This past weekend, I had plans to write a paper and take photos for my photography class, maybe have my parents over for dinner, and of course take my dogs out to exercise. Something happened on Friday that prevented me from getting any of these things done (nothing life or death or really that serious, but it put a hold on all of my plans). And while the schoolwork is important, it really made me realize that I’ve been putting things that truly matter on the backburner.

Every year around Thanksgiving, something happens to stop me in my tracks. Usually it’s something small, but it always makes an impact. It always reminds me that this is truly a time for giving love and giving thanks. It is not a time for taking, and it is not a time to be selfish. We are embarking on the busiest and most stressful time of year, but it is exactly the right time to slow down our lives and step away to relish in the littlest moments.

Thanksgiving was originally the meal shared between the Indians and the settlers – a day in which differences were set aside and a common agreement was shared. Now, we come together as a family and stuff our faces with expensive food and overindulge in wine and spirits. Are we really thankful for this feast?

Maybe I’m just being cynical, but if we were really thankful for what we have, wouldn’t we just have another regular meal like it was just any given day? Shouldn’t we be preparing a meal for people who are not fortunate enough to afford such grandeur on their own? To me, that’s what Thanksgiving should be about. The Indians shared their crops and the animals they’d hunted with the settlers.. Shouldn’t we, the more fortunate, be sharing with the less?

I think I could happily forgo a Thanksgiving feast every year, knowing that someone who has never experienced the pleasure of a real holiday before was given the opportunity.