Some men can be very clear about what they want as a gift, and are happy to leave magazines (or this here webpage) open on the coffee table as a not-so-subtle hint to guide you through the present buying process.
With Valentine's Day on the horizon, however, we are aware that we're not all like that, and some of us are a bit more obtuse, perhaps even on purpose at times.
While we're apologetic about that, we do have a solution: The Man Cave's guide to shopping for those men that have everything (or say they do) and want nothing. We guarantee* that you'll find something in here that will bring a smile to his face this week, and if not, we are in no way legally culpable for that. We checked with our lawyers.
*not a guarantee
Learning to cook is a life skill that will see every man through many a dinner party in the future, but it's also a win-win situation for whoever is giving the gift too. The gift giver gets to hand over a thoughtful token that bestows both an experience and a truly useful ability on the recipient (who presumably enjoys learning new things and therefore appreciates it greatly) and they also get to be the guinea pig on which the new meals learned during the cooking class are tested.
That comes with its own inherent risks, so we suggest you pick a cuisine that you're quite partial to. The Italian School of Cooking in Dublin has vouchers that start from €45, while if Mexican is more your thing, you can go together to learn to make enchiladas, salsa and guacamole, or whatever takes your fancy at Picado, or have a look around for any number of cuisines and courses that will upgrade the kitchen skills of the man in your life.
Pic via amexicancook.ie
A cocktail making course
You know all that stuff we just said about dinner parties, food and important life skills? Yeah all that again, but this time with booze. Making a good cocktail is something that even James Bond values highly, so if it's good enough for 007 then it's good enough for us. It's also about savouring the drink, really understanding the different flavours and not just shoving booze down your neck, which should lead to a better appreciation of alcohol in general. The Dublin Bar Academy is just one of the places that caters to people who want to learn about mixology for fun or for professional reasons, and there are plenty of others out there if you have a look around online.
An evening to remember at Bia Beatha Supper Club
These events take place every month at the United Arts Club, and are worth every penny of the ticket price. On arrival, you're treated to a little cocktail to ease you in to proceedings, before sitting down to a meal comprising several courses, each more delicious than the last. Here's a sample menu to give you an idea, but suffice to say that it is meant to be savoured and enjoyed, so take your time over it. The food is just one part of the evening however, as there's also a speaker who pops up in between courses (giving you just enough time to digest) to chat to you about whatever the evening's topic may be.
When we attended, it was about the history of Irish food, and made us proud of the rich heritage our country has in that field, a lot of which we didn't actually know of. Apart from that, there's also some great live music, and a drop of whiskey at the end to finish the evening off. February's event (which takes place on the 28th) will be hosted by Máirtín Mac Con Iomaire of TG4, and features a menu put together by chef Anthony O'Grady exclusively for the event. The last one was so good, we're still talking about it over a month later, so we can't recommend getting a ticket highly enough.
A first edition of his favourite book
Every man should have a favourite author, it's something we feel very passionately about here at the Man Cave. Social media and the online world are all well and good, but sometimes tuning out from the rest of the world is beneficial for both mind and body, which is why we're always an advocate of turning off your various smart devices and switching on your brain every now and then to crack open a real hard copy of an actual paper book.
First editions are that little bit special and show that you know something about your other half, and they have great sentimental value too. Ulysses Rare Books in Dublin are one of the many places nationwide where you can find a treasure trove of literary gems in rare copies or first editions. We were eyeing up a version of Philip K. Dick's The Man in the High Castle there recently, if you happen to want to get the Man Cave a gift...
Carrying on from the theme above, a subscription to a periodical is also a good way (if in a bit more of a lighter tone) to sit down with something to read of an evening instead of staring blankly at your smartphones for hours, tapping away like zombies. This gift does require you to know a bit about the reading habits of the man in your life, but you can't really go wrong with GQ, Esquire, TIME or The New Yorker – they make us feel sophisticated. For the football mad, a subscription to The Blizzard is a fantastic read that covers everything and anything, from the history of the game to why there's always been a tendency, perhaps erroneously, to compare it with chess.
Sunrise alarm clock
Imagine how much more pleasant life would be without the buzzing, horrid sound of an alarm clock (or the equally grating noise of your phone) in the morning? We're fairly sure that we hate that sound, and the only Pavlovian response we have to it at this stage is to hit the snooze button. For those reasons, we like the sound of a sunrise alarm clock that wakes you up in a more relaxed manner using light, rather than suddenly thrusting you into the waking world every morning with an unpleasant cacophony.
There are apps for this (like Glimmer on Android or iSunrise on iPhone) but if you can possibly keep the phone out of your bedroom we suggest that you do. It'll lead to a more peaceful night's sleep and you won't be checking your emails first thing in the morning, making you stressed before you've even had your first cup of coffee.
Flamenco guitar lessons
There are so many playing styles of guitar that it would take you a lifetime to master them all, but flamenco is one of the most interesting to learn because it doesn't depend on doing hours of technique and scales. That's an important part of practising and warming up, sure, but the only way to learn flamenco is to play the songs and learn the techniques that way. It's also a lively and fast-paced style of guitar that's hugely impressive when played well.
Pic via Fran Villena/Flickr
In Dublin, there are few better teachers than Miguel Angel Lejarza who has played with the likes of Rodrigo y Gabriella, amongst a whole host of others, but search around your area too and find a location that suits you.
A stylish helping hand
We're sure that the readers of the Man Cave are, of course, all stylish men, which means that they probably have a few select places that they like to go to stock up on the essentials, or the fancy bits for special occasions. A voucher for their favourite shop that will help them afford the blazer they've been lusting after, maybe a new pair of shoes, or perhaps even more crucially some new socks and underwear, will never go unused.
Pic via Hackett