What can I buy my good male friend?

Originally Published: April 7, 2000 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: February 13, 2014
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Dear Alice,

What sort of a present would be suitable for a male friend, 22, from me, male 20? Something he will treasure and can remember me by when he sees it? We are normal college mates only.

Thanks Alice,
Sagittarian

Dear Sagittarian,

There are so many different kinds of presents that can be exchanged between friends. By saying that you and your male friend are "normal college mates only," do you mean not romantically involved? Or, not the best of friends, just acquaintances? There are lots of different kinds of relationships — varying in importance and intensity. Indeed, these are all normal, as long as they are mutual. In many cultures, though, it's not acceptable for two men to express their caring toward one another — not physically, verbally, or through the exchange of mementos. But this doesn't mean you can't express your true feelings, breaking through barriers that can help you live life to its fullest.

When considering what to give your college friend, you may want to think about your budget, his interests, activities you've enjoyed together, and how well you know one another. Gifts need not be expensive to have a lot of meaning. In fact, for many people, home-made gifts that have had time and thought poured into them, rather than money, are often the most touching of all.

Here are a few suggestions to get your creativity going:

  • a journal, book, or travel journal with a special inscription
  • a plant to brighten up his dorm room
  • a luxury version of something he uses every day: cashmere socks; a sleek comb or fancy bath products; a monogrammed money clip
  • a t-shirt or cap with the logo or name of a favorite sports team, band, or locale you've been to together
  • a magazine subscription related to his interests or career goals
  • tickets to see a movie, play, concert, or sports event together
  • membership to a museum
  • a planned trip: fishing, hiking, driving to a new town or city
  • a new album that your friend's been wanting (i.e. vinyl, CD, or .mp3 format) or a customized playlist of songs you think he'll like
  • a "found object" or something that reminds you of something you've done together: beach pebbles placed in a jar; map and postcards from a trip with your destinations noted; photographs in an album
  • a letter on nice stationary explaining what his friendship has meant to you
  • a framed print by an artist your friend admires or by you
  • a basket of cooking utensils and/or food items from his favorite cuisine

Have fun!

Alice