You may be wondering, "Christmas just past, isn't this article a little late?", but if you want to be a good gift giver, the time to start preparing for Christmas isn't a couple weeks before Christmas, it's now.
The 1st thing you want to do is evaluate how this Christmas went. Everything is a learning experience. What did he enjoy, what did he not enjoy? Try to see if you can deconstruct why certain gifts appealed to him more than others. Sometimes gifts that you think will go well, don't go as well as you would like, and you want to try to understand why.
The next thing you want to do is create a designated place to jot down ideas. Wherever it is, make sure it's in a place where he won't find it. Ideally something you can carry with you everywhere you go. This will become your secret journal. Though out the year, any time he mentions wanting something write it down, anytime he is frustrated using something write it down, any time you see him enjoying something write it down. It doesn't matter at this point if they are fully formed ideas or terrible gift ideas. You don't need to worry about that right now, the important thing is you develop a large assortment of potential avenues for good gift ideas.
Now that you have all these ideas, it is important to figure out which ideas are the good ones, and which ones are no good. The key question is "what makes a good gift?" This is a very difficult question to answer because it really depends on the person, and an understanding of what kinds of gifts they appreciate. What makes a good gift giver first and foremost is their ability to understand their giftee. Hopefully your list will help you with that, hopefully observing them at Christmas will help you with that, hopefully watching them through the year will help you with that. It is even okay to ask him what kind of gifts he likes, or what qualities in a gift makes him like it, just try to avoid doing that right before a gift giving holiday (it shows lack of forethought).
But, here is a general guide to different gift categories and my recommendations regarding them. Keep in mind you know your giftee better than I do, and your knowledge trumps anything written here.
Buys For Himself Gifts
These are gifts that he needs, but he also buys for himself. This is the category where “boring” gifts like socks and razors live. The reason these gifts are boring is because he already get him himself. He doesn't need you to buy them, and it just causes disappointment looking forward to opening a gift, and getting something he could have just gotten himself, and has on several occasion. Do not buy gifts for people that they already buy.
Collector gifts are a great idea. If he has a large collection any random item, that is a great thing to get him. Just make sure he doesn't already have that one!
Things that he might enjoy eating are good gifts, however, alone, gifts like that can be a little bit underwhelming. If this is the only gift they get they will probably overall, be disappointed (unless it's you're new boyfriend/guy you just started dating... in that case it's a perfect gift). Pair it with additional gifts to get better enthusiasm.
This is buying admission or tickets to some sort of activity. Experience gifts can be a great gift idea if the event is something that you know he would enjoy. Typically small experiences are the best route, like buying tickets to a play or baseball game. Do not buy tickets for a trip to Paris or anything that you would need to make sure his schedule works for.
For "Us" Gifts
Do not buy anything as a gift that is meant to be for the two of you. Things like house decorations, or bedroom toys are bad gift ideas. The only exception to this might be experience gifts.
Hobby Related Gifts
Hobby gifts are very difficult, because often times they just know more about their hobby than you do. If you try to get him something related to his hobby it might often fall flat because it's not quite the right thing he would have got for himself. Hobbyists know their hobby very well and they often know what things they would want better than you. Even if you know the "exact right thing" it will often be the expensive thing he hasn't bought for himself already because... it's too expensive. Gift cards to hobby stores may sometimes be appropriate for this reason.
Sometimes the best hobby related gifts are more simple ones. Instead of buying a guitar player a new guitar or amp, maybe some new guitar picks with designs selected with his interests in mind wouldn't go amiss, or a new guitar case. Also hobby related paraphernalia can sometimes be a good gift. T-shirts with their hobby on it can be a good go-to. Make sure the stuff you buy would be things that they would actually want in the 1st place. Don't buy a guitar shaped alarm clock, if he would never want an alarm clock.
Homemade gifts aren't really they own category, a homemade gift can fall into any one of the other categories, plus it is homemade. The rules for homemade gifts are the same as the category as the category they fall into. (For example for homemade treats follow the rules for consumable gifts).
A homemade gift can be a great or terrible gift depending on the quality. A good rule of thumb is that if the quality is as good or better than the quality of the store bought one, then it is a good gift. Basically, if the quality is high enough that someone would pay for it. If the quality is high, and it is something that he would have wanted, he will be doubly impressed by your gift. If the quality is low, he will feel disappointed.
"I Want..." Gifts
If you heard him specifically call out anything during the year as wanting that thing, that is absolutely a great gift idea.
This gift category is things that he already enjoys or uses, but it's a nicer version of it, it also could be something that would make him more comfortable. It doesn't follow the rules of “Buys For Himself” because he doesn't spend that much money when he buys it for himself. Examples could be a fancy version of the wine he likes, luxurious bath towels, or a nice robe. These make great gifts because it's exactly the sort of thing that is a little bit of a “treat”.
Personality gifts are tricky, but can be fun if you get it right. Personality gifts can span a wide range, basically they are any idea that would just appeal to him personally. Examples would be something that particularly appeals to his sense of humor, or a game you think he would like because you know he is fond of strategy games. Personality gifts require of really good understanding of who you are buying the gift for, and for that reason they are difficult to pull off. But when you get it right, it shows that you do understand him.
If you notice using something far past it's expiration date, then a new version is a great idea. An item like this is an item he uses frequently and just had the time (or whatever) to replace it. Buying him a new one shows that you've noticed the poor condition of something, and you wanted him to have a better/newer one because you care about him. Examples could be rusted tools, or garments he still wears with holes, etc.
Now that you have your list, and knowledge about what types of gifts would be good, turn your list into gift ideas. Not everything needs to get turned into an actual gift. Some of the stuff you wrote down will be total duds. All you need is enough to turn into gifts, until you feel the appropriate amount of gifts has been reached (I like to give more gifts if they are small and inexpensive and less gifts if they are big and pricey).
Then you start preparing for next year. Personally, I like to keep all my unused gift ideas on my list for a while. Sometimes an unused gift idea could be a homemade idea that I didn't have time to execute due to how late in the year I had the idea, or it might be a gift that I was on the fence on whether it would be a good gift or not and I need more data to make a decision on, or it could be a nebulous idea that I haven't figured out how to turn into a gift yet. So, I keep old ideas around for a couple years, and continue to add new ones to my list.
Good luck and happy gift giving.