In a pickle… Buying gifts for difficult people.

Mr Woog is very hard to buy gifts for. He just isn’t into “stuff”. Sometimes I will present him with a gorgeous lambswool jumper, or a book I think he might like and he will give me the courtesy of making all the right grateful noises, but I know that he knows that he could totally live without it.

So with his birthday coming up, I really really wanted to get him a good gift. I cannot just waltz into David Jones and get something. Because he is what could be described as a mixture of eccentric and eclectic.

So far the gifts that he has loved the most are a wooden doorstop with a bronze pig on it.

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And an old art deco shelf thing for books. Pictured here with his treasured Hungarian Tapestry…..

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He loves this little antique freestanding mirror, pictured here with the piggy doorstop, which he uses each morning to check for nose hairs before he goes to work in the big smoke.

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And he is absolutely obsessed with this…

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Which is a cookbook developed by 6 women who get together every Monday and cook excellent looking Jewish food. This book can be found on the coffee table, on his bedside table or next to the dunny. I believe by now he must know every recipe off by heart, although ironically, he has never cooked anything from it.

Maybe because he is not a member of the sisterhood. Perhaps that is what is holding him back.

But yesterday, ladies and gentleman (Hi Noel from Auckland!) I believe I found something that might just become the best gift yet!.

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Hailed as perhaps the best pickle in the world, I bought the biggest mofo jar of them, EVER!

I lugged it home. I could not wait. I presented him with his glass bucket of dill pickles in sea salt and he positively SQUEALED WITH DELIGHT! Squealed like a little bronze piggy doorstop. There might have even been a little hand clapping.

Which proves my philosophy, that no matter how hard someone is to buy for, it is always better to receive a vast amount of pickles, that to give them.

Do you find men hard to buy for?

What are your failsafe options?



  • Too funny! Yes, my hubby is hard to buy for and on top of that if he thinks of something he might like, he just buys it for himself. No waiting until his birthday or other such occasion for him. The other day I went to an amazing middle eastern bakery/cafe/deli and came home with some chilli condiment called Hot Desert Sand. Described as ‘a fiery combination of fennel and chilli with a deliciously painful & satisfying heat’, he too was making strange little noises of delight!

  • I really struggle with gifts for my husband, he is a creative and a perfectionist, and he doesn’t like ‘stuff’ in the way I do. He’s brilliant at buying me gifts, which makes it even worse. Lucky I’m hot, so at least he can say he has a trophy wife.

  • Donna

    The men in my life are required to provide an options list. Failure to provide said list means they get gifts of socks and jocks from the $2 shop.

    Works until Dad decides that socks and jocks are just what he needs, and he feels $2 shop is fine. “Don’t waste your money love”.

    Love ’em.

  • I just give him something that I want … that way I know at least one of us will be happy

  • amanda

    Woog man sounds a delight!!! His reading choices crack me up – from Fat, Fifty & Jobless to Religion for Atheists!!! Buying for them is hideous………..I never know what will score the points. Sometimes those closest to them, know the least!! My sister in law once gave my husband (a cotton farmer – outback country Qld), a black, short sleeved, collarless, tshirt. Needless to say she’s from Melbourne and has no idea of our lifestyle……….it has never been worn.

  • Chrisb

    Yes Mrs Woog, they are the best pickles ever! I get mine ( in Melbourne ) from USA Foods in Moorabbin. When they are in stock I buy up big! You can also order from their website . Yummo!

  • I went to a party on the weekend and spotted what I think is the best 21st gift I’ve ever seen.
    What do you get the bloke who has everything? A taxidermied raccoon!
    It was all I could do not to swipe it from the present table!

    • Oh that is just awesome! I hope the poor thing died of natural causes though x

      • Oh dear. I just assumed it would have. I didn’t think about the alternative. #naive

    • fiona.caroline

      That is seriously the best present ever!

  • I need that cookbook!
    I adore your husbands eclectic taste!
    I’m struggling at the moment as we have an exchange student arrive from Japan for a week and i have to get him and his family presents, hard!

  • I don’t buy the husband gifts anymore. He isn’t into stuff either & really hates the fuss so after 16 years I’ve stopped & he is happy.
    Today I did buy him a book- John Williamson- not for any occasion just because I think he needs something to read while away at work. It’ll probably take him 6 months to read it but at least he knows I think of him while I’m out shopping 🙂

  • Erika

    Guaranteed failsafe – Bunnings vouchers. But normally he tells what the latest car part is that he wants, and I get that. Two new headlights are hiding from him as I type…

  • fiona.caroline

    Its a challenge to try pick something the husband really likes, he is also not into “stuff”. (if we hate it we just tell each other and then return it!) Doing things rather than buying things tends to work well, like we went abseiling and rock climbing in the blue mountains one year…experiences over stuff any day!

  • The Eastern European in me just let out a squeal of delight at the sight of those dill pickles!

  • Chocolate peanuts, socks and lollies. Mine is too fussy so I just let him buy his helicopter gadgets as I always get the wrong thing.

  • CC

    Mr Woog is gorgeous.
    My bloke likes ginger in dark chocolate and a promise of a bush walk, seriously that is not an euphemism. I did a two day and overnight hike with 15kg packs and toileting in the outdoors… he says, his best gift ever.


    Two words. One starts with B and the other starts with J. Never fails.

    My fella is very hard to buy for. I tend to buy experiences rather than things – a photography course and a 10 pass boxercise were my better things.

  • Heidi D

    My husband & Dad are both impossible to buy for. Husbands only hobby is electronic stuff which costs the earth & Dad doesn’t really have any hobbies at all which doesn’t look good with father’s day coming up. I love the piggy doorstop. It is the type of present someone would get me. I probably fall into the eccentric group…..I collect piggy things 🙂

  • A friend of mine runs a site that caters for this exact problem. It even has gifts for the specific type of guy – geek, surfer etc and the list goes on.

  • rgentle

    My husband always needs jocks (he keeps them until they fall apart, and never thinks to buy himself new ones!), socks (he actually wears socks with holes in them!), nice polo t’s (Country Road especially!) and could usually do with a new pair of Havianas or trainers. I’ve always been terrible at buying him gifts (his birthday is 3 weeks after Christmas), and he just gets excited when I give him anything at all!

  • Hahaha wow, I see your problem there! Glad he likes the pickles. I suspect my husband would too. The males in my life are quite difficult. Some more than others. Some are even downright judgemental and picky and make me feel like chucking in the towel. I just have a rule. If you see something they’ll actually like, even if the special gift giving occasion is like 10 months away – BUY IT OR MAKE IT OR PROCURE IT THEN AND THERE. It’ll keep.
    My husband’s birthday is in a few weeks. I chose to buy him an experience based gift (gosh those are so good for the impossible gift receiver) rather than a material item. And it involves us getting a babysitter so I know he’ll be down for it haha.

    • I think your method of buying the thing at the time they identify something they might like is gold. Must use.

  • Tash from Gift Grapevine

    Urgh – husbands, brothers-in-law and grandads are the hardest to buy for. Give me kids gift buying any day. Boxes of Decadent Choc Chip Cookies make Handy Hubby a very happy man. My brother in law just wants a box of Cheezels and music vouchers. Unoriginal but cheap and easy – the gifts, not the men.

  • I find my dad hard to buy for because like your Mr W, he doesn’t really love “things”. He likes some things like beer, footy and farm machinery. At least lately he has shown an interest in other stuff like reading Wilbur Smith and cooking, so it’s opened up a few options! The gift he love the best was last Xmas, I got him the Tap King. It was so popular I bought one for my brother as well. Happy as clams they were.

  • Lisa Mckenzie

    God yes my husband is so hard to buy for as is my dad.We were watching TV last night and I saw those fit blitz bands and said to my beloved I might get you one of those and he replied I would like one!!!He really doesn’t do exercise except soccer training but that more is arm bending training oh well he likes playing with his phone so maybe I will xx

  • Krystal M

    I find Men impossible to buy for, my husband doesn’t buy things often (rather leaves it to me) but when he does decide he needs something he’ll just buy it no stuffing around. I’m definitely going to be shopping at this Fathers Day for hubby, something there for every type of man!

  • Yeah I found that Leah from Navy Crocket had a fathers day brochure advertising some gift ideas.

  • mscate

    Big fan of edible gifts, I teach cooking and I’ve also had a lot of guys come to classes as gifts (some even on a date) 🙂

  • sue elliott

    For xmas we often agree a spend limit. So it might be that you have to get 5 presents with 50 bucks. The real present is the thinking and the giggles and outright belly laughs that come with the guessing and unwrapping. We don’t need more stuff, but you can’t have too many laughs.

  • The Monday Morning Cooking Club is one of the best reads going. I hear there is a part 2 out… x

  • Amy

    Mrs Woog, any chance you can tell me where u sourced those pickles from? Hubby quite likes his pickles and is hard to buy for too. Cheers

    • Costco but check out the comments and there is a link for direct sales x

      • Amy

        Thanks Mrs Woog. Looks like i will have to trek out to Auburn

  • FunMumX3

    Failsafe options:

    1. Experience… big ticket events (70s grundge bands, etc.) or music festival tickets, scuba lessons, cooking class, drive an F1 race car, couples massage (not X rated, silly), harbour bridge climb, catered dinner for two at home, B&B escape, that kind of thing.
    2. Food gift basket make by myself… that would be pickles, hot sauce, chutneys, indian snack foods, dark chocolate, yummy things like that so he can hog it all by himself and not share with the kids.

    PS Vlasic pickles are our local supermarket brand here in Canada, always keep the fridge stocked with Kosher Dills! Cha!

  • Brenda

    I bought my husband a record player for the first christmas we were together – he had a massive record collection and nothing to play them on, so it made sense. Best present ever apparently, and nearly 10yrs later I am still struggling to come up with something as good and/or better. Men are the worst to buy for!!!

  • Kristie

    Oh I love his favourites! Maybe gifts aren’t his thing. Hubby loves a homemade gift over anything bought. His ‘love languages’ are acts of service and words so anything with a kiddie print or effort and nice words satisfy him like a cheeky night in

  • Sascha

    I got my husband a barista course. He loves being a wanker so now when people come over for a cappuccino he is certified. . I call it a mutually beneficial present. . Win win!!

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  • Alex

    Hubby and I decided many years ago not to buy birthday or Christmas gifts for each other, as we both tend to just buy whatever it is we want ourselves. Instead we choose something together for Christmas, usually something we want for the house. For his birthday I will arrange a weekend away for the two of us,and vice versa. We treat ourselves to a little bit of luxury and dining out.
    For other family and friends, I also try to keep a lookout during the year for things they may like, and I keep them in a gift box until the right time. I’m liking some of these suggestions.

  • Robsmc

    Last year for his 40th, a hot air balloon ride, this year have purchased in my favourite colour!

  • I have just been awarded my brother in law as my designated Kris Kringle. He’s a farmer, I can’t discern that he is interested in anything at all. I know that he has s dislike of cats. Um… You might be onto something with the food idea though.
    Have you ever visited Schott’s Emporium in Melbourne? I think it might be the place for your husbands gifts. Check it out (in person, not the website).
    I love the Eskal kosher pickles in garlic and chilli. They are magical .