Holiday Shopping for Pipe and Cigar Smokers

Could Russ actually be Santa Claus?

At the holidays, we all want to bring enjoyment to the people we give presents to (and, yes, I ended a sentence with a preposition). But when selecting gift having to do with the recipient’s hobby, you wade into murky waters. So these are some suggestions to help you avoid some of the pitfalls when shopping for the cigar and pipe smokers in your life.

Cigar smokers- Let’s start with accessories, as these are generally the safest things to buy as they’re quite useful, and fairly easy to exchange if they’re just not the right thing for the cigar enthusiast in your life. One of the first thoughts for most gift buyers is to look at lighters, and that’s a good direction to go in, as lighters can be problematic, so a couple of extras hanging around is helpful; additionally, there are a number of different types that work better under certain conditions. For outdoors, while camping, fishing of playing golf, a triple or quad-flame torch lighter is almost necessary. They stay lit well when it’s windy and toast and light a cigar quickly. They tend to cause an awkward burn at times, but when you’re out in the fresh air and sunshine, it’s unreasonable to expect a razor-sharp burn. Single and double torches work better when the air movement is less of an issue, but lighting up quickly is still of importance. But when relaxing indoors where there’s less airflow and lighting up a special cigar, nothing delivers a better experience than a soft flame lighter as the lower combustion temperature and wider flame allows for the best flavor and the most even burn. Any cigar lighter is a pretty safe bet as most cigar smokers have a drawer full of ones that work intermittently or not at all.

Humidors are usually pretty safe as well, as a second or third box can be really useful. Sometimes a cigar guy might keep a few strong or flavored/infused sticks around and these should be isolated from the rest of the stash, as they can impart their influence on the rest of the cigars in the main humidor. Also, although not the best choice for long-term storage, glass-top humidors are great for presentation when you pass the box around for friends, so having one in the den or on the desk cane be a great idea.

Cigar cases are useful for carrying a few sticks around to protect them from breaking, but they’re only effective for one day as they don’t humidify the cigars; just make sure to get one with a large enough ring gauge for the smoker’s preferred size. For carrying some smokes for a couple of days or more, travel humidors are a great bet, reasonably priced and something a lot of cigar guys don’t think of buying for themselves. Most of them are made of high-impact plastic, protect the cigars with dense foam and will even float. They range in size from 2 to about 65 cigars, and are really welcome gifts.

Cutters are a bit dicier to buy, as everyone has a preference as to whether to use a guillotine, a v-cutter or punch. If you know the smoker’s choice of cut, then they can make beautiful and durable gifts, but if you’re not positive, another item might be better.

As to buying cigars, I’ll keep it simple- if you know what the smoker likes or if you want to buy a cigar sampler pack, you’re fairly safe, otherwise you might want to steer clear.

Pipe smokers- There are a lot more options for pipe smokers, but they tend to be a bit fussier than cigar smokers, so save those receipts. One general rule- if you don’t know the general kind of blend the pipe smoker likes (Latakia, Virginia, Aromatic), avoid buying tobacco as a gift. There are so many different types of blends that your chance of hitting the mark via guesswork is very small indeed.

Pipes as gifts can be problematic as well. If you’ve seen the smoker with a pipe, you could possibly get the size and shape right, but you need to determine if a filtered or unfiltered pipe is preferred. Filtered smokers generally don’t like unfiltered pipes, and smokers who prefer unfiltered pipes will almost never smoke a filtered one.

Pouches for carrying tobacco and/or pipes are a thoughtful and useful gift, and can be quite attractive, as well. They might be made of cloth, synthetic materials or fine leather and can range from quite inexpensive to fairly pricey, but even if the pipe person already has one or more, (s)he will always find a use for a new one.

Lighters also are a good gift for pipesters, but the lighter must have a soft (yellow) flame, that should come out of the side of the lighter. Butane lighters are the best as they don’t impart much if any flavor. The liquid fuel (Zippo) type are loved by many, but most pipe smokers won’t use them because of the more noticeable taste of the fuel. Many pipe lighters have built-in tool, which is a help because it reduces the amount of accoutrements that the smoker needs to lug around.

Pipe tools and tampers are very popular gift, and can be very attractive in design. They range from inexpensive to fairly high-priced and can be serviceable and utilitarian-looking to works of art, but they are always needed and some people like to collect unusual ones.

Pipe furniture (pipe racks, stands and humidor jars) are also great gifts, as the pipe smoker usually only thinks about buying them when they have pipes lying around on desks, mantles, tables, etc. They come in single pipe or full collection sizes, in a variety of styles, finishes and price ranges, so they are a solid gift giving choice.

This has been a very brief guide to holiday gift, but for more detailed info, please feel free to call us at 1-800-494-9144, Monday through Friday from 9 to 5 eastern time, and our customer service staff will be glad to help you pick out something that will be appreciated. Happy Holidays!

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About Russ

Russ Ouellette is the blender/creator of the Hearth & Home series of tobaccos for www.pipesandcigars.com in Bethlehem, PA. He has been a pipe smoker and blender for over 30 years, and enjoys feedback from the pipe smoking public. You can reach Russ at russo@pipesandcigars.com or by calling 1-800-494-9144.

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