From the Bismarck (ND) Tribune, 12/18/1913, a helpful article anticipating just how hard it is to find presents for guys. I love how, a hundred years ago, they, too, lamented the fact that everyone gives a tie -- no matter how unbecoming or absurd -- as the generic go-to gift for men!
WHAT TO GIVE HIM FOR A CHRISTMAS GIFT
A man is only a man after all, and he likes useful gifts, no matter who he may be. If you are wealthy or if your income is quite moderate the following gift suggestions may be adopted, as they are things that may cost only a little or may be quite expensive:
Wallets and cardcases are always usable, and a man is pleased if he gets them in the latest styles every Christmas.
A leather traveling case makes a delightful gift if it is of the best quality--not all the investment in the case, but in the fittings too. It reflects better taste if you give a small and beautifully fitted case rather than one filled with a shoddy toilet collection and a cleaning apparatus.
A fitted travelling bag makes a superior gift if you wish to expend that much money--$25 or more. If so, it is advisable to get ivory, imitation ivory, or ebony fittings, as they are not quite so heavy as those of silver. The man who travels will be pleased to death with the nearly put up leather case seen in the illustration that is filled with scissors of different sizes and a penknife. And for the man who rides horseback what more appropriate than the whisk broom holder mounted in a stirrup setting?
I can almost guarantee that the "guy gifts" section at Kohl's -- the refuge of every person with a hard-to-buy-for-dude in their life -- is full of pretty much the same things: toiletry kits, things to clean up with, handkerchiefs. Dads and other guys have been opening the same presents, every Christmas, for a hundred years!