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How’s this for a measure of a gift: it’s easy to use, life-changing in at least a minor way, and the lucky giftee would never in a million years pick one up unless it magically appeared in their stocking.

And then consider the shoe horn.

It’s not an essential item exactly, but most men’s morning routines would be improved by a mechanical shoe helper—and a gift from a knowing acquaintance is the perfect way to break the impasse between what’s ideal and what’s necessary. This one comes from an Italian cobbler’s shop, but there are plenty of other options in the wings if you’re willing to dig a little. We prefer the longer, standing model, but for some reason the best vintage ones tend to be the small kind. Take your pick.

—R.B.

CONTRIBUTORS

  • Russell Brandom