Now that Old Man Winter has passed his snowy fingers over the Santa Fe mountains, the recent white frosting reminds us of Old St. Nick’s snowy beard and his generous bag of goodies. I’ve often wondered what Mrs. Claus gifts to her “Mr. Has Everything,” which reminds me to ponder how to surprise all Mr.’s in my life as the holiday season approaches. A tour of Santa Fe’s treasure trove of shops and galleries makes my masculine gift list come together pretty quickly, and I don’t mind sharing some hints. (Check out my recent blog post on gift ideas for gals.)
Help Him Buckle Up in Style
Some guys simply won’t wear much jewelry — personal experience has made me admit defeat on that front. But how about a beautiful handmade silver belt buckle for your fellow? Randall D. Moore has been honing an aesthetic approach to dressing up a man’s daily look for decades, and it shows in the skillful artistry of his classic designs.
You can pick up a single belt buckle to start with, but we Westerners are partial to a full ranger belt buckle set, complete with a pair of keepers and a shining silver tip. Modest men may prefer the slim and elegant style of the Metro design, but if your fella is a bit more daring, a touch of turquoise or some braided edging add a look that is unmistakably Santa Fe. The wide assortment available in person (by appointment only) or online means the real issue is choosing what best complements your guy's sartorial style. If he loves your thoughtful stylish gift, then it’s easy to follow up next year with cufflinks, a bolo tie, a tie tack, or other accessories to match.
Speaking of bolo ties, I thought you’d like to know that right here in our capitol city, former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson declared the bolo as the state's official tie. So feel free to get one for all the men in your life as a souvenir of your trip, and for him to wear when he’s here instead of one of those stuffy traditional ties. My guy hasn’t tied a knot around his neck in years!
Something One-of-a-Kind for Your One-in-a-Million Man
Even though my guy chooses a watch over a bracelet, I love the look of a beautiful chunk of silver on a well-muscled forearm. There’s also something to be said for simple jewelry on a man. Maybe your guy welcomes a bit more adornment in the jewelry department and you luckily get to shop accordingly. If that’s the case, every day is a good day for finding a signature piece under the portal at the Palace of the Governors, where Native American artisans set up to sell their creations daily. Scoring a spot along the covered portal means the artist has been vetted for authenticity, so you know that the seller or someone in the family is truly a Native craftsperson, and that means a lot in this age of knock-offs. And of course, it’s not just cuff bracelets — we’re talking leather bracelets for your family’s millennial men, and silver watchbands for their granddaddies. Just remember that if you see it today, it may not be there tomorrow, since the cast of characters changes according to who gets up and at it early.
Create New Memories with Old Things
If your gentleman friend is the type who loves quirky, vintage statement pieces like a garden folly or an old railroad sign, head for the southern part of the Santa Fe Railyard. Yes, there is another part of the Railyard, and it has quickly developed into yet another spot for the city’s talented retailers to curate old and new collections. Recollections, located on Cerrillos Road at the Baca Railyard, has been pure shopping enjoyment ever since it opened. Chock-full of curios, cabinets, cutlery, and curiosities, this antiques and consignment shop showcases diverse city tastes spread over 6,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor space. I’ve never walked in without snagging a terrific deal to dress up my domicile, and although I can’t promise you’ll find a garden gnome, don’t be surprised if you do!
Treat Him to Holiday Spirits
The City Different feels the same about fine spirits as it does about our renowned cuisine: we like it homemade. Santa Fe Spirits saw that niche and filled it in 2010 when Colin Keegan opened his distillery to create premium spirits right here in town. This ex-pat Englishman knew what he was after, and his stable of artisanal Scotch whiskies and Calvados-style apple brandy has been joined by his Expedition Vodka and Wheeler’s Gin, so your guy can sip his preference.
Gift your man with an experience on the Distillery tours on Wednesdays through Saturdays, 3–5 pm. A tour is an engaging and educational way to spend an afternoon, and cocktail hour follows from 5–9pm if the fellows want to linger on for fun. And the Tasting Room, open Mondays through Saturday from 3–5 pm in the heart of downtown, is a great place to meet and mingle with friends over a signature cocktail. I’m partial to the Sunset Coyote, but further exploration is definitely on my agenda … care to join?
Cooking Up a Christmas Gift Can Be Creative
A gift that keeps on giving – an experience – has additional benefits, so that even the partners who don’t cook find joy at the stove. How to make that happen? Gifting him with a chile-making workshop at the Santa Fe School of Cooking creates inventive chefs out of everyone. These “education in eating” experiences come in Christmas colors, meaning red chile or green, and a 2-hour class should arm him with all the knowledge he’ll need to pull together an enchilada dinner on football night while you laze on the couch and call out the score. He’ll come away able to discuss the merits of red versus green, and the history and varieties of New Mexico chile, and — if he’s a keen learner — with the skill to create a tasty homemade tortilla with his own two hands. And just as important, he’ll learn how to handle our spicy, potent ingredients safely and efficiently.
If the king of your castle considers the grill a critical feature of his domain, chefs/authors Cheryl Alters Jamison and Bill Jamison’s 100 Grilling Recipes You Can’t Live Without: A Lifelong Companion should definitely be under the tree. Renowned food experts who have made Santa Fe their home, this talented culinary couple has assembled a mouth-watering compendium of classic grilling delights. In addition to their 100 original recipes, the book is peppered with fascinating anecdotes, cooking tips and trivia, and barbecue lore from the ages. The book is available from the School of Cooking’s online market, along with some intriguing ingredients to make him drool while he dreams about a winter barbecue.
Sometimes all it takes is feeling good to make the holiday a great one, and a relaxing spa treatment is just as appealing to those of the X chromosome. He may not admit it, but he’ll be glad you did it when you surprise him with a gift certificate for a spa treatment. While Santa Fe’s Ten Thousand Waves, located up in the mountains, is justifiably well-known for both spa services and fabulous outdoor hot tubs, there are also many places in town to get a great massage or a facial treatment to soothe the chapped skin of a diehard skier. And if you and he are taking your Santa Fe getaway in a hotel with a spa, how much easier that will be
Buy the Boy a Southwest Memory
Be he a well-loved companion of many years or a new flame, a fledging just learning to leave the nest, or Dear Old Dad, the men in your life will appreciate the effort you put into finding a singularly Santa Fe gift. Between now and the holidays, super Santa Fe deals abound, so a quick trip in person or an online exploration will ensure your holiday shopping success. Body, mind, or soul, the guys deserve a reward just as fabulous as the ladies, and you’ll share in the delight when he opens that package to find a unique surprise that’s truly City Different.