THE ACL GIFT GUIDE 2021
Despite my ongoing reluctance to do a gift guide (part of me thinks perhaps this blatantly encourages excessive consumption) I still wanted to do one to try to cut through some of the noise around the holidays. My goal here is to try and highlight some fun things and some good companies which do things right. Perhaps this is a list which can get shared to a loved one to provide some direction or maybe it’s just a reference point for your own ideas. As always I’m just here to try and help everyone find interesting and well-made things. Hope this helps and happy holidays.
💸 A reminder, there’s no pay for play in any of these recommendations. You won’t find any affiliate links, PR placements or any other commercial enhancement activities here. ACL is 100% subscriber supported so click with impunity.
📬 If you want to send someone a gift subscription to ACL, here’s a special deal from me via this discounted link.
This list is ongoing. Updated as of December 6th, 2021
🏈 🍺 🍔 GRILL DAD
Coleman Steelbelted Cooler — Let’s be honest, the giant white cooler thing is a bit much. Nothing was or is as good as the Coleman Steelbelted cooler. I can hear the sound of the lip plunking down in my head to this day. The only way to make this better is to fill it with ice and Miller High Life.
Ooni Karu Pizza Oven — This was my favorite purchase in 2020. I cook pizza on these Ooni oven exclusively and there’s no going back. I opted for the hardwood fire grill for the flavor and because using gas seems like cheating.
Sonos Move Speaker — These speakers are perfect for your backyard and sound incredible. They are the perfect cookout companion.
Blackstone Griddle — Dreams of the great family breakfast are realized on one of these great gas griddles. I’d rather play griddle man outside on one of these than do it in my kitchen.
Beer Can Draft Top — speaking of beer. Turn your can into an aluminum cup.
Shizu Hamono Yuri Knives — There’s nothing like a good knife and the Japanese forge steel better than most. These simple designs are the perfect marriage of form and function.
The Baseball 100 — I’m not really interested in reading about baseball, but Joe Posnanski is one of my all time favorite sportswriters and I would read him talk about the weather. This is a good book to give for even the most casual of sports fans and an excellent gift for hardcore baseball people.
The Axe Handbook — This is legitimately the definitely guide to axes from Best Made founder Peter Buchanan-Smith. There’s so much good stuff in here beyond the whole painted axes thing hanging in the offices of ad agency people.
Golf: The Complete Set — The perfect set of golf books to add to a library or get one started.
Great Escapes Mediterranean — We can all dream can’t we? And if we are going to dream it might as well be about the Mediterranean. This is the perfect book for the italophiles among us.
The Optimist — A great read about life and fishing from our friend David Coggins. In The Optimist David tells wonderful stories about both fishing and travel. Even if you don’t fish this is a great book for those even marginally interested in life on the water.
Sentinel Golf — This brand has quietly made some of the most interesting collaborative pieces for golf in the last few years. I love the rangefinder bag (made in the USA) and all of the other thoughtful offerings Sentinel has dropped this year.
The Fliers Club Membership — I love to tell people about the Fliers Club because it’s such a hidden gem of the golf world. Membership gives you access to amazing golf experiences in the US and abroad, plus great merch and an affiliation with a great group of people who also love the game. In a world of snooty golf clubs, this is unpretentious golf at its absolute best.
Holderness & Bourne — My go-to favorite golf clothing brand. Started by two great guys —Alex Holderness and John Bourne — this is the stuff I tell everyone to check out if they appreciate clean and simple menswear inspired golf gear.
Bluegrass Fairway — Really great golf accessories for those who are into quality goods. I highly recommend the leather scorecard holder for golfers who like to walk and the small pouches to keep your ball-markers and other small items organized and of course the old-school headcovers.
Swing, Walk, Repeat by Jay Revell — There’s no better ambassador for the growing movement of pure golf than writer Jay Revell. His words on the game are filled with the spirituality, common sense and fun that remind us all why we love the game so much. [Updated Nov 30th]
Golf Prints — Photographer Christian Hafer is one of my all time favorite photographers and he has an amazing collection of images of golf courses which would hang well in any space.
📸 GEAR & GADGETS
Ricoh GRIIIx — It’s nice to carry a camera that’s not your phone. These GRIIIx cameras are highly anticipated and the image quality looks stunning.
Helinox Chair Zero — This comes in handy at kids soccer games and other places you want a chair but don’t want to tote around anything heavy.
Wolf x Uncrate Watch Box — Wolf makes the best watch storage boxes. The collab with Uncrate puts the darkness spin on them to create and instant must own for watch lovers.
Bose Soundlink Mini — There are a million small Bluetooth speakers in the world but this is one of my favorites based on the sound and the ease of use. The killer feature with these little speakers is the easy ability to pair and connect to this from your phone. Bose has the bluetooth thing figured out and for $100 this is a great option for anything active.
The Light Phone 2 —The Light Phone is a totally unique experience that helps to keep you in the moment and not scrolling Instagram for no reason. I might not want to buy one of these on my own, but would love to receive one as a gift to encourage better habits.
🚀 OBJECTS & FUN
LL Bean Camp Blanket — How great is this retro styled camp blanket? I want one and so would someone you buy gifts for (probably).
F/ck Off Mug — Some people just don’t want to talk early in the morning. Here’s the mug for them.
Billykirk Vallet Tray — These are great trays to collect your keys, change and other small items. Put them by your bed or on your desk. There’s also a bigger version which can hold everything in your pockets.
Parrott Canvas Firewood Carrier — These come in super handy when carrying firewood in from outside. People might not think to want to buy one of these everyday, but they make a good gift. Parrott also makes a lot of other great canvas bags and the like — it’s my go-to for canvas stuff.
Barton & Gray Mariner’s Club Membership — This isn’t cheap, but how great would it be to have access to this incredible fleet of Picnics and Daychasers.
Sonic Editions Life Magazine Collection — Sonic Editions is an amazing source for great prints across music and other incredible collections of exclusive archival images.
💃🏻 A FEW IDEAS FOR LADIES
House Shoes from Lindquist Objects — My friend Lindy started this brand and i’m constantly impressed by the design and the quality of the make. She’s RISD trained and based in Providence. In addition to her obsession with design, Lindy has a genuine interest in craft and it shows through in everything Lindquist makes. [Updated Dec 3rd]
Oak Essentials Mini Routine — I’m not totally up to speed on beauty routines, but I think giving the gift of a routine is probably going to be a home run. Although I haven’t used these products myself, I do know that Jenni Kayne has high standards and people love everything the brand touches. [Updated Dec 3rd]
Ariel Gordon — In my experience, jewelry is a pretty safe bet. In the past my wife has requested a few pieces from this company which she really loves. There are some simple options, customizable things for a child’s initials and it’s not all super expensive. [Updated Dec 3rd]
Comme Si Socks — I think socks are a safe gift for the women in our lives. These Comme Si socks are very nicely made and will raise questions as to how you actually know about these amazing socks. [Updated Dec 3rd]
Reformation Boucle Sweater — This is a cozy sweater that all women will like unless they don’t like super soft things that make them happy. Seems like a safe bet in terms of fit too. Check another sweater at home to see what size they like. Obviously we all know to do that, but just making sure. [Updated Dec 3rd]
🛫 TRAVEL BAGS
Bennett Winch Weekender Bag — These two Brits (both named Robin) reinvented the weekender bag for the betterment of all humanity. These bags are not inexpensive, but they are incurability well-made, good looking and functional as hell. Five stars.
J.Stark Canvas Tote — Charleston’s great bag maker. You can’t go wrong with anything from J.Stark. It’s really one of the greats and will last forever.
Ghurka Express No. II — These bags age incredibly and the more you use it the more you appreciate it. It’s rare for something you buy to become more valuable over time but this does it. There’s also the Ghurka Luggage Tag which I probably don’t want to buy this for myself, but I would love to get it as a gift.
Wm. J. Mills Shelter Island Duffle — A simple tote for East Coast aficionados who love classic canvas bags. One look at those zippers and I caught a very distinctive vibe.
☕️🍷LIFE ESSENTIALS FOR HAPPINESS
Moccamaster KBT — If you know someone who likes good drip coffee this would be the gift that brings them joy every morning all year. First of all, Trade is an incredible company which has the best of the best when it comes to coffee. The Moccamaster is case in point.
Wine — Kermit Lynch is my go-to for wine. I always find a nice bottle from Northern Italy or France and it’s almost always really exceptional. A nice bottle is perhaps something that most people won’t splurge on for themselves and as long as they aren’t a teetotaler you can’t go wrong.
Fellow Coffee Equipment — It’s a bit crazy to spend this kind of money on a kettle for pour over, but Fellow makes top tier stuff and the design of both the coffee grinder and the kettle is excellent. It’s definitely in the splurge zone which makes it an excellent gift. Anything from Fellow would make an appreciated gift even this vacuum canister to keep coffee fresh. [Updated Nov 30th]
Stork Club Ashtray — This vintage cigar ashtray from Sir Jacks is rare, expensive and truly excellent. Anyone who knows (and enjoys cigars) will appreciate the hell out of something like this. Sir Jacks has many other interesting options for gifts from bar accessories to flasks and everything in-between.
Makr Weekender Tote — still one of the best leather goods and bag companies out there. Everyone will appreciate a something nice from Makr. All made-in-the-USA of quality materials.
Gitman Vintage Flannel Shirts from Tabor — Tabor in Charlotte is one of my favorite shops anywhere and it has a great program going with Gitman on some very nice flannel shirts which are perfect for the holidays and colder temps in general. [Updated Dec 1st]
Foreign Rider Co. — my favorite basics anywhere, period. The best long sleeve tee shirts, the best sweatshirts, the best comfortable clothes anywhere. FR is a family owned brand that is entirely ethically sourced and made in Canada. This is not hyperbole.
Alex Mill Work Jacket — Everyone needs one or two of these jackets to basically wear everyday. I love everything Alex Mill does and these garment dyed jackets are very strong.
American Trench French Terry Robe — What says Dad more than a good robe? American Trench is a great company
Lusso Cloud House Shoes — The most comfortable shoes to wear at home or out in the universe (if you aren’t David Coggins).
Magill Rugby Shirt — Classic menswear made in Los Angeles. You can’t go wrong with one of these nice rugby shirts with solid construction in the perfect colors.
Rancourt & Co. Shoes — Anyone who likes nice things will appreciate the quintessential American footwear from Rancourt. If you perhaps haven’t realized, loafers are the greatest shoes ever invented and Rancourt makes the best you will find anywhere.
🦖🤖 KID STUFF
Globe-Trotter x Disney — Two iconic brands team up for the ultimate travel case for children. Needless to say Globe-Trotter is one of the most coveted brands in the universe and Mickey Mouse is the everlasting symbol of childhood. With such a timeless aesthetic, this is something someone would cherish their entire life. [Updated Dec 6th 2021]
Bombas Kids Socks — Bombas x Elmo is high level stuff for small people’s feet. I can understand the allure of good socks, but I doubt I will ever understand exactly why kids are so crazy about Elmo. I guess all you need to know is that every kid will love these socks from Bombas.
My First Opinel Knife — Yep, we’re giving knives to children and it feels good. I remember when I got my first knife and I was completely irresponsible. It was awesome. This seems more practical. [Updated Nov 30th]
Tonie Box — Our kids have one of these and they love to use it almost every day. The Tonie Box is a little speaker that uses little characters to play different audio programs including popular franchises from Disney, Nickelodeon etc. Our kids listen to the shows in the car, while coloring or as a substitute to watching television. It’s somewhere between reading a book and using an iPad and it seems to be a perfect balance.
Jaguar Toy Car — This wind-up Jaguar XKE E-Type toy is perfect in British Racing Green. Brooklyn-based Garrett Wade has an excellent catalog of hand-picked (and often, handmade) old school children’s toys. [Updated Dec 5th]
Warm & Wonderful Sheep Sweater — Warm & Wonderful got a reboot from Rowing Blazers and this Princess Diana sweater has been hugely popular since it has been reintroduced. Now it’s available for kids and it’s definitely a conversation piece.
Lovevery — One nice thing about the Lovevery is how easy it is to buy gifts for any young child as long you know their age. That’s because everything is centered on a child’s development timeframe so everything falls into age brackets. These are great gifts for people with small children.