If you’re a millennial with an older boyfriend, there’s a good chance you struggle to pick out gifts for your partner. Men can be difficult to shop for, and an older boyfriend is likely far more financially secure than you are. Anything he wants, he probably has.

So what do you do when his birthday or a holiday rolls around? It’s tempting to fall back on old cliches like cologne and neckties, but you know in your heart that he doesn’t want that. Nobody wants that.

When you’re thinking about gifts for older men, throw out materialism. He doesn’t want a thing. Don’t get him a thing. Get him something that produces a specific emotion, get him something with a purpose. Useful gifts, or ‘experiential’ gifts, are the name of the game.

A shave

Chances are your man shaves daily or near-daily. A shave doesn’t seem like the most fun gift to give. But the gift of a shave doesn’t mean purchasing him a shaving kit or performing it on him yourself—it means making a reservation with a local barber for a spa-like shaving session. There is a reason that personal grooming is one of the most popular gifts for the over 40s.

This gift will be received well by most older men. It’s something they likely rarely, if ever, splurge on for themselves, and offers many of thebenefits of a spa visit without the feminine associations. His masculinity can remain intact while he relaxes.

Barbers use straight razors, which make for a smooth, clean, long-lasting shave, and your boyfriend will appreciate the gesture and the chance to indulge.

Wet bar equipment

Okay, chances are, if your boyfriend is a grown man, he has a wet bar at home already. Don’t go out and buy him stuff he already has, by any means. However, almost no one has a fully equipped wet bar.

Take a look at his collection, and see what’s missing. Does he have a muddler? A shaker set? Maybe he needs a cabinet to organize it in, or a decent set of cocktail glasses. Whiskey stones can help keep a good whiskey cool without diluting it, and also make an excellent addition to any wet bar.

Something that spruces up his wet bar and adds value and function to it would be an excellent gift. It helps him entertain, has long-lasting benefits and allows him to splurge, again, on something he likely is neglecting.

Alcohol

This is an easy one, but it’s true. A good-quality wine, liqueur or spirit will make an excellent gift for older men, particularly if you put in the effort to figure out what kind of alcohol he’d like.

It’s important to do research before picking up a gift in this category, both on your boyfriend and on alcohol in general. If he’s a wine drinker, a good bottle of wine will be far more helpful than a bottle of vodka, but if he prefers cocktails then something stronger is better.

Put effort into finding the perfect alcohol for him. Consider incorporating some sentimentality—my mother secretly purchased wine from a vineyard my parents had visited some years back for a Father’s Day gift one year. It was thoughtful, delicious and something he never would have purchased on his own.

Put thought into this gift. He can buy alcohol on his own—it’s the meaning that makes this gift special.

Power tools

Not all men like power tools. But if your boyfriend’s a handyman, he absolutely does. Get him something missing from his collection, something he might have fun using. Some men are still thrilled by the sheer force of a chainsaw and consider that an absolute blast.

Get him a nail gun, which can open up a whole new world of projects. Or a circular saw, or a complete tool box if the one he has is getting worn down. This is objectively the least exciting gift to get someone, but you’d be surprised how much joy a man can feel with a saw in his hands.

If you’re shopping for your boyfriend and absolutely stumped, try to think about gifts in terms of two categories: practical, and emotional. If there’s no emotional component or practical component to the gift, it’s probably a waste of time.

It’s hard to shop for men, especially men who seem to have everything. But a bit of thought and effort will lead you to the perfect gift for your partner, no matter what the occasion.

Featured photo credit: Vladimir Pustovit via flickr.com