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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Gifts for the dudes

Some men are extremely hard to find gifts for, that is gifts that don't bust the budget. You can hardly craft or thrift a new iphone, tablet, or sports car. But you can find some appropriate gifts in places like pawn shops. Not that I am frequently pawning possessions, but I've been in a pawn shop or two. What I did see (that could be a good gift for a man in my life) are chainsaws and other tools and fishing equipment, at good prices. Most merchandise will sit a while in a pawn shop, so you can write down specific info on the items, go home and do some research to see if the price is fair, before plunking down your cash.

Otherwise, gifts on a budget, for the dudes, can be much more of a challenge than for the dudettes.


My husband is always happy with edibles. Christmas is a good time to make a couple of items that are particular favorites of his. For instance, I don't care much for Rice Crispy treats, but he LOVES them. So a container of his very own Rice Crispy treats is always appreciated. My husband also loves, loves, loves salsa. Normally, I just make the regular tomato salsa. It's good, he enjoys it, but it's nothing special. For Christmas, I'm planning on making him a small batch of a special salsa, like this roasted pepper salsa, from from

I can make the salsa late this summer, and keep it hidden until Christmas. And with a large bag of tortilla chips, he'll be a happy muncher.

Other years, I've made a large coffee can filled with homemade poppycock/cracker jacks for my husband.

Sewing/knitting projects

I've used this pattern to make cotton boxer shorts for my husband, in past years. I had the fabric on hand, and only needed to buy the elastic. 

This year, I'll use the same pattern to make some lounge pants for my son. (Hubby's got all the lounge pants/pj pants and boxers he can use for now.) I'll extend the legs on the pattern, for his height, and use some elastic that I have leftover from making boxer-shorts. My only cost will be about 2 yards of fabric -- probably fleece. 

Last winter, my husband lost the fleece hat that I'd made for him, several years ago. Soooo, guess who'll be getting another hat this Christmas? I'll check my supplies for making one, here at home, then price supplies to make one from fleece or yarn. If I can make one for under a dollar, then I'll make it. However, Dollar Tree always has a large selection of hats. If it looks like I can buy a hat from DT for less than making one, I'll buy one. It could be that I'll have enough fleece leftover from making the lounge pants for my son, to make a hat for my husband. BTW, fleece hats are super-duper simple to make, no pattern required.

Manly soap-making

Hand-crafted soap is not just for the ladies. I'll also be making some soap for my guys. Only for them, I'll be making soap-on-a-rope and shaving soap/cream. 

Remember all of those Christmases when you gave dear old dad a soap on a rope? I've given my son SoaR a couple of times. It's kind of a novelty, but also very practical for those who only shower. The soap can hang from the shower head or faucet, and not sit in a puddle of water in a soap dish. 

I'll have some soap base leftover from making almond-oatmeal soap, so no cost there. I'll add some sandalwood fragrance oil, for a manly-man scent ($3.99 for a .5 ounce bottle at Michael's, with a coupon, as little as $2). I won't buy a mold, but will use a container from home. The rope or cord doesn't need to be anything specific. I'm thinking bleached, used shoelaces, with the capped ends cut off, should work fine. My bars of sandalwood soap-on-a-rope should cost about $1 each.

I'm thinking the soap on a rope will turn out something like these two, with the soap poured around the rope:


or, this, with a hole drilled after the soap is made:

For the shaving soap, I'm not sure yet, if I'll make a hard disk of soap, using my soap supplies and an empty chip can as a mold (then slicing), like this:

Or a creamy shave soap, in a glass jar, like this:

One more consumable, inexpensive gift for men

A couple of years ago, I put together a shoe-polishing kit for my son (blogged here). He wears dress shoes every week day, as does my husband. He likely needs some "refills" for that kit, more polish, and clean flannel cloths. My husband probably also could use some refills. The cloths I make from fabric I have at home, and the tins of polish are inexpensive (under $3 at Wal-Mart).


  1. All good ideas. Salsa with chips would be a hit with all of the men in my life.

    1. Hi live and learn,
      It should be a hit here, too.

  2. My husband loves chocolate covered cherries and we only buy them at Christmas. I think everyone in my family gives him a Then he freezes them and pops one at a time out for months to come.

    Flashlights are a good guy gift for the guys in my family. A copy of a favorite magazine works well and is relatively inexpensive. Another favorite is used books. While my female relatives like "story" books, my male relatives love "how to" books. The cost at yard sales, library sales, and thrift stores is usually minimal.

    1. Busy Bee--

      Have you ever tried making your own chocolate-covered/cordial cherries? We've made them several years, and it's really very easy (especially compared to some kids of candy-making). You need to make them a a few weeks early if you will make a type that has fondant filling that must dissolve, but other than that it's easy and really doesn't take very much time.

      You can also tailor them a little for flavor/alchohol/no-alcohol, if you like. The recipe we use is from an old Betty Crocker Christmas cookbook, but I'm sure you could find a recipe on the internet.

      Sara :)

    2. Hi Busy Bee,
      Flashlights do make good guy gifts. I'll check the library's book sale for good books and magazines, too. Thanks for the suggestion. Our library sells books and magazines every day of the year, so I can start checking now.

    3. Hi Sara,
      I know a lady at our church who makes chocolate covered cherries every year for Valentine's/President's Day. She provides them for a tea/luncheon that I work at. Pretty yummy.

    4. I've never made my own chocolate covered cherries. Thanks for the idea. I will start looking into it.

  3. Great ideas! I have 2 small shoe polish clearance sets
    that I bought after Christmas and had forgot about. I will be adding to them to make a nicer gift. Polishing clothes and maybe a manly container.I remember soap on a rope and just love the mugs. I might try my hand at soap making. I have a small
    gift card to Michaels.
    Have a great day.

    1. Hi Patti,
      Are you a Michael's Rewards member? I believe you can sign up online. Anyways, they send coupons in your email that are only for the rewards members. Last week I got a 50% off one. So, I returned the soap that I bought for 40% off and re-bought it with the 50% off coupon. That brought my cost per finished bar of soap down to about 80 cents. Anyways, the Michael's Rewards could get you some high-value coupons to buy your supplies.
      Those shoe polish kits sound like they were a great deal!

      Have a great day, too, Patti!

    2. Hi Lili,
      I am not I will go join now. Great tip.
      thank you,

  4. I may have mentioned this before,one daughter asked for a shoe polish kit last year at Christmas. She had a pair of Blunstones ( Bought new from a buy and sell group.) that needed to have someTLC. I went to a cobbler and asked him what he does in cases like this, he mentioned how he would clean the leather, how he would use heat in the process. Then how he would apply polish and maintain the boots.
    The products were more expensive. The knowledge invaluable. The daughter was genuinely touché dat the time and research I had done and the sourcing of materials to execute the job correctly.
    Her boots look so much better. My husband wears dress shoes every day for work. His father was in the Air Force and taught him from a young age how to look after his shoes. Every night my husband puts shoe trees in his shoes( great gift idea) and every morning buffs his shoes.
    It's a lovely sight to see :)

    1. Hi Teresa,
      I love your story of your husband with his shoes. There is something attractive about a man who takes such care of something that may be seen as not that important, to others. I can remember the sound of my dad brushing and buffing his shoes, in the kitchen, in the evenings.

      Good work on getting all the detailed info for your daughter on caring for her boots. (I didn't know what Blundstones are -- I had to look them up. They're not cheap, are they?!)

  5. I do give edibles at Christmas. I have a great candied popcorn recipe done in the microwave, start to finish in 20 minutes. I have made a large bowl of it and gift it to larger groups like at a potluck or the office staff at my church. I'm on the look out for cans but have found that the domed plastic salad containers that large salads come in work well. Sometimes after receptions you can rescue them from being thrown out.
    Last night I made 8 jars of baby cucumbers and 6 jars of pickled beets. ( Would have been 7 but one broke in the canner:().
    I specifically did them because my FIL and BIL like to eat these so they get an assortment of baking and canned goods at Christmas , Easter, Father's Day, birthdays etcetera.

    1. Hi TG.

      Would you mind sharing your candied popcorn recipe?


    2. Those edibles sound delicious, Teresa. I'm sure they are very appreciated!

    3. Caramel Corn
      2qts(8 cups)popped corn
      1cup butter
      1and 1/4 cups sugar
      1/2 cup light corn syrup. I purchase no name brand. It has to be corn syrup otherwise it will not solidify into a caramel mix but instead turns into a brown watery mix and can't be used.
      I cup nuts your choice( I frequently do without because of nut allergies, I do at Christmas with pecans)
      1tsp vanilla
      Butter two cookie sheets and set aside.
      Place popped corn in large roasting pan.
      In large microwaveable bowl, combine butter,sugar and syrup.
      Microwave on high for 8-9 minutes, stir every two minutes. Every microwave is different, you will determine quickly what the "right" time is for your microwave.
      Add nuts and microwave another 2-4 minutes or just until syrup becomes golden brown.
      Stir in vanilla and immediately pour syrup over the popcorn.
      Working very fast, mix thoroughly so all the popcorn is coated. I use two metal soup spoons. These work well at scraping the mixture off the bottom of the roasting pan to cover more popcorn.
      Pour mixture onto prepared cookie sheets and pat into single layer.
      Allow to cool.
      When firm break into small pieces.
      I use butter and pecans, preference for taste. Don't worry about it looking "oily" when cooking. Once cooked mixture is on popcorn it turns into caramel.
      I have found that popcorn a day old looses some moisture and give a firmer texture when biting into the mix. If you use freshly popped corn it can be chewier.

    4. Thanks for this recipe Teresa!

  6. Thank you everyone for all the good gift ideas!!


  7. Hi Lili.

    Thanks for the great ideas!

    I like the idea of making the shaving soap in an empty chip can and then slicing. That makes a nice looking soap!

    When I make shaving soap for my husband, I've been using a few empty individual yogurt containers that I have, the larger sized ones like the Yoplait Greek yogurt comes in. I had picked some up on clearance at Kroger for $0.19 each, and the containers were perfect for shaving soap.

    The sliced soap looks much prettier, though!

    Have a lovely day!

    1. Hi Angie,
      The shaving soaps do look pretty, especially with the crinkled edge. But it does sound like yours are also nice and uniform.

      Have a wonderful day, yourself, Angie!

  8. Great ideas! I have found that the old adage is true: the key to a man's heart is through his stomach!

    My dad's absolute favorite present is a homemade gnocchi dinner, made using his mother's recipe. My brother, who lives alone and doesn't cook, LOVES gift baskets filled with just about anything edible. His favorites are the ones with sausages and cheeses - which I haven't yet ventured into trying to make myself. And CatMan has a soft spot for pumpkin pie and homemade shortbread butter cookies.

    Honestly, giving them food is just sooo much easier than trying to wade through the complexity of finding something that they'll actually wear, or getting the "right" techno-gadget! :-)

    1. Hi Cat,
      Yes! It is so much easier! And it sounds like you take extra care to choose just the right edible for each person.


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