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,

Dear Sagittarian,

Your options abound when it comes to special presents for your friend. By saying that you and your male friend are "normal college mates only," do you mean not romantically involved? Or, are you just acquaintances and not necessarily best friends? There are lots of different kinds of healthy relationships — and it’s common to have ones varying in closeness and intensity. Different cultures have different takes on what’s considered acceptable for two men to express their care for one another in terms of physical, verbal, or through the exchange of mementos. But this doesn't mean you can't express your true feelings, perhaps breaking through barriers that may help you live a joyful and authentic life. No matter how close the relationship with your buddy, there are endless possibilities for how you can show you care.

When considering what to give your pal, you may want to think about your budget, his interests, activities you've enjoyed together, and how well you know one another. Gifts don’t need to 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. You may wish to get him a physical gift, such as:

  • A journal or book with a special inscription
  • A plant to brighten up his room
  • A luxury version of something he uses every day: cashmere socks, a sleek comb, a monogrammed money clip
  • A t-shirt or hat with the logo or name of a favorite sports team, band, or place you've been together
  • A magazine subscription or other subscription service related to his interests or career goals
  • A new album that your friend's been wanting (i.e., vinyl, digital download) or a customized playlist of songs you think he'll enjoy
  • A "found object" or an item 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 or food items from his favorite cuisine

You might consider getting him the gift of an “experience,” which may help strengthen your bond and allow you to make more special memories together. These sorts of gifts include:

  • Tickets to see a movie, play, concert, or sporting event together
  • Membership to a museum that you may explore together
  • A planned trip: perhaps fishing, hiking, driving to a new town or city

These are just a few ideas, but hopefully it helps get your creative juices flowing. Have fun and good luck!


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