“A man who has it all” is usually not interested in “things”. He is interested in a great story, uniqueness and rarity. That’s why unique, one-off pieces fetch millions at auctions.
But, since one-off is not an option for most of us, let me tell you how to find the unique things with great stories to tell instead.
It's not about how much it cost, but what story does it tell to him and his friends.
Unique gifts require some digging and thought. But as long as you know something about the person, you should be able to find a gift with an interesting story to tell. Everyone is so different, hence you might find it challenging to find a list of gift ideas that will fit your specific situation.
Instead, I suggest the following seven different ways to think when thinking about what gift to buy for a man that has it all.
A lot of people can trace their heritage to other countries. Many of them are proud or at least intrigued on where they or their family has come from. Hence anything physical, useful or unusual that is coming from that country automatically becomes a point of fascination. Just think about it, everyone knows that most consumer goods are made in China these days. So even the usual everyday item suddenly becomes so much more exciting and important purely on the basis of where it comes from.
To buy a tartan related gift you do not need to go for a kilt. These days tartan is used to make iPhone covers, ties, hats, cufflinks and etc. Furthermore, it is quite fascinating that each clan had their own unique pattern. For example here are tartan patterns and colours for the astronaut Armstrong and Mikey Mouse voice MacDonald. You can find clan search tool here.
Especially fascinating for people who like history or politics, excitement is linked to events like wars, or immigration which eventually leads to something positive.
For example, the Fourth Crusade in 1204 caused Byzantine glassmakers to leave Constantinopolis (today’s Istanbul) and resettle in Venice. Here they used their skills to invent and develop the concept of Venetian or Murano glass.
Glassmakers produce a surprising variety of products suitable for unique gifts. There are some impressive chandeliers, lamps, furniture pieces, colourful glasses, striking decoration pieces and even furniture handles.
This also influenced the fact that Italy is still a major producer of sun glasses. Luxotica, (pictured) is one of the brands you could consider.
Today you can still find three brands that are making true Murano glass in the same workshops. See our What is Made in Italy guide for more inspiration.
The world is continuously changing, and hence we tend to change our lifestyle and how we do things. Sometimes going back “in time” to re-discover how people lived before can bring surprisingly good ideas.
For example, before cotton became popular people used to use linen as the primary source for producing fabric. Today we are learning that it has many benefits over cotton. It absorbs and releases water quicker, considered more hygienic due to a lower rate of bacterial growth.
In Europe, Ireland, UK and Lithuania became linen producing centres from the 16th century. Hence it is not surprising that these countries leading in European linen production these days too. So, if you are after linen, these are the countries to check on our Search By Country directory. I personally like linenme (picture credits) from Lithuania.
Just because we use it every day, it does not mean it has to be plain and boring. And the plus side, this means it does not have to be very expensive either.
In the picture, you can see a two-prong wine opener that looks and operates very different. It also helps that its history leads to the French sommeliers that used these wine openers in the mid 20th century. Because two-prong type does not damage the cork, they would use it to sip off the wine from the bottles and close it again before selling it to restaurant customers. See Unique Wine Openers to see other surprisingly cool corkscrews.
You can also see an extravagant looking kettle - it is not for everyone. But that's exactly the idea. See Unique Kettles Guide if you want to see more types.
These are a few examples to an idea that you can apply to many things we use every day. I am sure you can come up with more, especially if you know the man.
Heritage is probably the most powerful story for most of the things we own. Since this website is all about European heritage and uniqueness, let me take this example just a notch further.
I love the story of Karesuando knives, for example. Karesuando is a village where local people make Scandinavian knives suitable for outdoors or even a funky kitchen. What's truly unique about these makers is the fact that they live on the reindeer-herding grounds, 250 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle.
This tribe has perfected the design of these knives based on their experience in reindeer husbandry and living in a harsh environment. It is a lovely story to remember when using a knife.
There are many places in Europe that specialise in something and this should give you a good start on what to look for.
Every country has a region specialising in something due to unique natural resources available or specific climate conditions.
France has Limoges enamel due to exceptionally high-quality white clay which allows the production of exceptional kitchenware. Artedona (picture credit) is one of the many brands that makes them.
Germany has Solingen area famous for premium grade blades: swords, knives, scissors due to local steel and steel making skills dating back over 2000 years.
And in Sweden, for example, some people still use wooden cups carved from a solid lump of tree burl, called Kasa. If you are after even more crafty gift, they also come with a reindeer antler inlays. This potentially a perfect gift to an outdoors type of person to replace the plastic equivalent.
This applies to any industry or product, but let me give some great examples from European watchmaking.
Watchmaking is a very complex and exciting subject. But sometimes, if you want to know what sets one watch apart from the other, it can be very technical and daunting. So, in this example, let me skip the horological craftsmanship and highlight another potentially exciting story instead.
Sinn makes their U1 watches from German submarine steel – an ultimate “made in Germany” gift for watch (or submarine) enthusiast.
While Rado, on the other hand, chose to skip metal all together when making outer shells - they use ceramic instead. And the one they use has been officially tested and certified to be the hardest material on earth
Germany is the known for its engineering innovation and quality. Discover more on what they make.
It is an exciting country with so many small artisan workshops. What what else makes Italy so appealing?
Italy is famous for its fashion, design and craftsmanship, but also Italian gifts come with a story to tell.
We spent years searching the web, artisan shops and visiting artisan makers in Europe. You welcome.