I’m Feeling A Little Sad For Men

Today I’m feeling a little sad for men.  [Tweet “Today I’m feeling a little sad for men. Hear me out”]

I admit I have taken my fair share of swipes at men over the years. I almost can’t help myself. Men are the low-hanging fruit of humor, mostly because they are so consistent. For example, they never fail to give advice or directions even when no one has asked for either. It doesn’t matter how many times you tell them to stop talking, explain your love languages to them, or turn the radio up—still they persist.

And, if that isn’t enough to want to sling some arrows, think about how easy it is for them to drop ten pounds in a weekend. Men announce on Thursday night that they are going on a diet. On Saturday morning they wander into your space, step on your Yoga mat, and yawn saying they’ve met their goal weight. Pizza for everyone!

I mean it’s only fair to make fun of them when life hands them lemons and they lose five pounds. Or, when you read yet another article about the pay gap—you do the math—and indeed the gap is impressive between you and man you live with, who is an abominable listener and might deserve it but also maybe not.

I’ll never forget the day I volunteered at my daughter’s third-grade classroom only to hear a little girl say to the teacher. “My dad doesn’t listen. He. Just. Doesn’t. Listen,” slamming her hand down on the desk with each word.

It’s all good humor though, as I always say–I love men they make great pets. (Kidding. I kid. Lol). Some of my paper favorite people in the universe are men. My beloved brothers are men. Which brings me to why I am feeling a bit sad for men this holiday season.

This year I wanted to buy my brothers something I often purchase for the women in my life– a care package filled with lovely things that might bring them comfort. That’s when I realized the whole self-care movement isn’t for men.

I know that women notoriously take care of everyone else first and need encouragement to care for themselves. I also know that women do more for the family than their male counterparts. Women need to be reminded, gifted, massaged, and pampered. No question.

But, I had two nice men who could use a little salt scrub in their lives and I had some trouble.

I did a cursory search for gift boxes for men. Here’s what you can buy and ship in a box to a man. Packages filled with shaving soap, mustache wax, combs and blades. There were also tons of ways to ship cheese, crackers and sausages – fruits, dried fruits things to take hunting.  There are any number of disturbing ways you can celebrate the drinker in your life. Wine and beer openers, whisky bottles with flasks, shot glasses and mixology manuals, all packaged in red plaid boxes for the boozy non-lumberjack in your life. You can even send a wooden United States plaque to hang on the wall, where you can keep beer caps and track the local beers he’s consumed. You can give this to a woman too, but it’s marketed for men.

If your man is a bald, nondrinker with heart disease, your options are slippers.
There are no build-a-gift, drag and drop soft cashmere socks in pastel colors, or calming fingerless gloves in lavender big enough for a man’s hand.  No peppermint candles with a box of chocolates nestled next to it, in a red plaid box with deer antlers embossed on the side. No chamomile tea with a sheepskin cozy or candle smelling of pine wrapped in brown butcher paper.  No maize colored scarf or perfume that smells of the ocean breeze along with gel ice mask that reduces the eye swelling from crying after watching The Shawshak redemption for the twentieth time.

I’m not saying that you can’t give a man a woman’s gift box nor am I saying there is nowhere on the internet to find softer items. I’m sure if I spent a more time online, I could find something on the dark web. I’m just saying at first look it’s all mustaches, alcohol, and sausages, and that’s a damn shame.

If I had the time in my life to start another new company, I would create self-care boxes for men using the colors that psychologist find soothing instead of red brick, brown and black. Inside the box I would include soft cashmere scarves in blush and sea breeze next to candles that smell like the top an infant’s head.

[Tweet “If I had the time in my life to start another new company, I would create self-care boxes for men using the colors that psychologist find soothing instead of red brick, brown and black. Inside the box I would include soft cashmere scarves in blush and sea breeze next to candles that smell like the top an infant’s head.”]

I would add to it chocolate that taste like love and coffee that keeps you up long enough to tell your wife how much you appreciate her. I would form a partnership with a therapist and fill a gift box full of coupons for therapy. Where a side door would be available if they wanted to walk through it wearing their pink gloves and smelling of lavender.

And maybe, just maybe we could hand over a little softness their way. Then it’s possible they might shut up about their weight loss, they could see we think of them more than manly men and we could all live in quiet harmony.

XO Ann

Big thank you to Samantha Hoffman for editing this piece. She edits all my essays. Click for her services.

If you want to read a story I don’t tell very often–you can read it here.  https://anngarvin.net/heres-a-story-i-dont-tell-very-often/


  1. Candice Wagener on December 31, 2021 at 5:55 pm

    Yes! As a mom to two teenage boys, I always straddle that line between soft and manly. Why can’t there be more overlap? I think you’re on to something with your business idea for manly self-care gift boxes. Happy New Year, Ann!

    • Ann Garvin on January 4, 2022 at 2:09 pm

      I KNOW. Why can’t there be. I’d love to start this business but I’m too soft. 🙂

  2. Marilyn on January 4, 2022 at 1:03 pm

    Enjoyed this. Oh the constrictions of constructed gender roles! We can point to various double standards that hurt or limit women, but the limited “manly man” expectations is a definite disadvantage to men—robs them of pleasure and potential for growth/multidimensionality and self-care, and in turn lessens their potential and/or ability to nurture others with imaginative indulgence (gotta start with yourself!). I bet a company that specializes in self-care boxes for men, as you described, would be wildly successful. Loved your juxtapositions of tough-man box/wrapper with soft, nurturing gift — e.g., “No peppermint candles with a box of chocolates nestled next to it, in a red plaid box with deer antlers embossed on the side” 😉

    • Ann Garvin on January 4, 2022 at 2:10 pm

      Yes, exactly. I make fun of men, but there are several things that are not great and somebody should make a box. 🙂 Thanks for adding this here 🙂

      • Ro on January 4, 2022 at 2:44 pm

        “It’s all mustaches, alcohol and sausages” made me snort. I did buy my husband a Crown Royal sampler box (which was more for me actually) but I also bought him a bunch of warm clothes because he’s been freezing in our house. He has so many hobbies that yes, I can always find something, but you’re right. Self care for him means sitting in his recliner watching fail videos on YouTube and eating popcorn. How does one purchase that?

        Thanks for the chuckle this morning!

        • Ann Garvin on January 4, 2022 at 3:39 pm

          hahaha fail videos on YouTube. I love that. More popcorn for your guy!

  3. Ellen on January 4, 2022 at 2:23 pm

    This is very thought-provoking, Ann. My manly, 6-foot-3 husband now in his late 60s finds great joy in very small things I can do that make him feel loved. For example, teaching him how to use the TV to watch Ted Lasso was a life-changer for him. Sappy greeting cards are a big hit and he keeps them on the mantle all year. He is quasi-disabled so bringing him dinner in bed when he’s punk brightens his life. I want to say that this is easy and life-enhancing for me but it’s really a pain in the neck. His mother was very stern and a bad cook. Anything that defies those decades of weirdness helps the old man smile. Our daughter sent us a coffee subscription from beans through the world and when he makes the coffee, which is that everyday affirmation that the daughter knew what would enhance his (our) daily life, it quietly delights him. For him, and he’s not everyman, it’s the experiences that matter, not unlike the younger experiential generations. And there’s not a great buisness model to create a product that delivers dinner in bed. My female friends will appreciate a warm note, a small package of candy in a brightly colored bag, a favor in the form of an email recommendation. Those appear to me to be messages that remind us of the warmth of our friendships that we have experienced in the past. With the husband, it needs to be something active, in the moment, a constant act of love and not just a reminder of the baseline of affection.

    • Ann Garvin on January 4, 2022 at 3:43 pm

      Ellen, I love this peak into your lives. A constant act of love is the way to go, as you say.

  4. Valerie Biel on January 4, 2022 at 3:03 pm

    Yes! Lovely piece and so, so true. (and also very funny–which is a great way to start the day.) Thank you!!

    • Ann Garvin on January 4, 2022 at 3:32 pm

      Thanks Valerie!! I think we needed some fun!

  5. Shannon L O'Brien on January 4, 2022 at 3:33 pm

    Love this. Thank you….

    • Ann Garvin on January 4, 2022 at 3:44 pm

      Thank you for saying so 🙂

  6. Tina Redmond on January 4, 2022 at 6:04 pm

    WOW! This is so true! My husband makes his own beer and does like Scotch. For years, anything having to do with those have been our go to gifts for him. But in the beginning of the pandemic, he decided he wanted to learn how to make bread from scratch…and he did! So we have been able to add a few more things to the gift list. But as for self care? Cd’s of his favorite musicians, good coffee, good chocolate and pistachio nuts are what we can give him that he will love. Things for me? The list is endless!

    • Ann Garvin on January 4, 2022 at 6:43 pm

      These are all so good! You are lucky to have a person with great hobbies. xoxo A

  7. Nicki Pascarella on January 4, 2022 at 6:53 pm

    Loved this!

    • Ann Garvin on January 4, 2022 at 9:13 pm

      Thank you Nicki!!

  8. denise on January 4, 2022 at 8:36 pm

    And, that’s why my husband get’s a box of Hickory Farms each Christmas. As does my dad for his birthday.

    As someone who has done hundreds, and I do mean hundreds, of reviews for gift boxes (plus individual items), the ones targeted and marketed for men are very limited to those types of items.

    • Ann Garvin on January 4, 2022 at 9:13 pm

      Denise! That’s data!! Thank you so much :))

  9. Lesli on January 4, 2022 at 10:19 pm

    Ann, your writing is as beautiful and thought provoking as ever! This is so true, and I know more than a few girls and women and non binary people who don’t really want girly things and would also really like to find these types of options in gift boxes

    • Ann Garvin on January 5, 2022 at 6:40 pm

      Thank you–it’s all so true for all of us. Being put in a box by a box is never good.

  10. Bill Gilliland on January 4, 2022 at 10:54 pm

    I’m still laughing! Too true! Thanks for writing and sharing this.

    Btw, this year my daughter bought me a gift I would NEVER include in a suggested gift list – a cashmere scarf. And, having just moved back to the Midwest from California, I absolutely love it. Your self-care boxes just might be a secret gem!

    • Ann Garvin on January 5, 2022 at 6:41 pm

      Bravo to your daughter. YESSS she knew what to do. Welcome back to the Midwest. It’s lovely here. Thanks for letting me know you enjoyed this. I have a lot of business ideas hahah

  11. Betty Koval on January 4, 2022 at 11:17 pm

    I worked as an HR professional and sometimes it took everything in me to not just blow a gasket – the differences men had versus women in the workplace – WOW! And people think it is more equal now – NOT! Maybe some better in some fields but certainly not all. I was told I need to write a book and change the names! HAHAHAHA – it would be a tell all for sure!
    LOVE your posts and blogs! Looking forward to reading the new book!

    • Ann Garvin on January 5, 2022 at 6:42 pm

      Boy you got that right. NOT
      I’m glad you love my posts. I love that you are here!!

  12. Carolyn Bach on January 5, 2022 at 1:50 am

    So funny, so sad, and so true.

    • Ann Garvin on January 5, 2022 at 12:20 pm

      my favorite

  13. Evelyn C Krieger on January 5, 2022 at 6:54 pm

    I have a sense that a lot of men might go for a professional massage at gift certificate–not at a spa-like place, more like a gym or PT office. Now the questions is: female or male therapist?

    • Ann Garvin on January 7, 2022 at 10:39 pm

      I think you are totally right. Male for sure.

  14. Jackie Trimble on January 6, 2022 at 4:40 pm

    Thank you for the smile to get me through the first week of work after a long break!

    • Ann Garvin on January 7, 2022 at 10:37 pm

      The smile is all yours.

  15. Elisa Marks on January 6, 2022 at 6:51 pm

    So very true. I’ve been in this exact boat!

    • Ann Garvin on January 7, 2022 at 10:36 pm

      So interesting right. And wrong.

  16. Victoria Semple on January 15, 2022 at 1:28 pm

    Hey funny lady, love your stories! And how right you are with the men stuff! lol

    • Ann Garvin on January 19, 2022 at 1:43 pm

      Hey! xo I’m so glad you do!! Thanks for being here!

  17. Ned on September 26, 2022 at 1:12 pm

    I got a girlish wave and a joyful smile from a strikingly beautiful woman the other day while wearing a pink polo shirt.
    Which was as good a gift as I’ve ever gotten from a woman.
    Heartened, it did my soul good.

    • Ann Garvin on October 18, 2022 at 12:44 pm

      That’s so lovely. 🙂

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