I’ve made a huge mistake. I’m pretty sure I didn’t put an expiration date on the “One Free Homecooked Meal” coupon I gave my dad 23 years ago and, with the rising price of gas, I’m afraid he’s going to redeem it.
My sister and I typically go in together for all of our parents’ gifts on every occasion – but we still get plagued by May, June and July. For us, it includes Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, both our mom and dad’s birthdays, and their anniversary. It’s like turning the corner to an entire side of the Monopoly board filled with your opponent’s hotels – you seem to always forget it’s there until it’s too late. Unfortunately, coupon books are suffering from economic inflation, macaroni necklaces are still out of style (come on TikTok, do your magic), and despite the coffee mugs that say otherwise, there can’t actually be 3 billion “World’s Best Dad”s out there. So here’s a few items to hopefully get you along the way, or at least get you started.
Before we get into some specific gift recommendations, I’ve generally found a few reliable themes to keep in mind when it comes to dads.
I’ll also note that all dads are different! While typical tropes often like to pigeonhole all dads into versions of Tim “the Toolman” Taylor, Homer Simpson, or Andre Johnson, no dad can be put in a formula. But because listicles are more visually appealing than paragraphs, we’re still going to use a few broad buckets to help guide your buying decision.
Disclaimer: Most of the items below are recommended as general gift ideas rather than very specific product recommendations, unless otherwise noted. I’ve included Amazon links as examples for convenience, but I’d encourage you to browse around and consider shopping local and from small business owners. Also, looking on Etsy for maybe 20% more can be the bump in quality to bring your gift over the edge!
The pandemic has changed the future of work – plenty of home offices are starting to pop up, and video calls are becoming more frequent in the workplace. If your dad works from home – or is taking more video calls than ever before – improve his meeting background with a thoughtful piece of art or wall decor. Maybe commission a painting of man’s best friend? Does he have a childhood photo that could be touched up by a professional and made into a larger print? Or family heirlooms that could be put into a shadowbox?
In addition, improve dad’s office set up with a homemade custom snack box for his desk! Hobby Lobby or Michaels will have plenty of baskets, bins, and boxes to use, and simply fill it with an arrangement of his favorite snacks – maybe add a personal touch to the outside and decorate it with. Alongside a mini fridge, any dad would love some of his personal favorites to have at arms length.
Meeting Background Wall Decor: Price Varies. Ask an artist friend (or a friend who has artist friends) how much they’d charge for a commissioned piece!
Snack Box (Price Varies)
Get a wooden crate and simply fill it with the best treats!
Grooming can often be overlooked in any guy’s routine, but adding a little bit of extra quality and flair to it can enhance and improve the experience. Consider buying your dad a straight razor (I’d personally recommend starting with a replaceable single blade shavette from Novo first, and then upgrade to a full Sweeny Todd-style blade if he likes it), shaving soap and a shaving brush. Dad doesn’t shave? Gift him some beard oil!
There’s a chance your tech-forward dad already has a smart home, but if not, this Father’s Day you could help kick start his smart home experience with any of the wide variety of smart home gadgets out there. Video doorbells, security cameras, home assistants, thermostats, and audio packages. You buy dad one of these and he likes it, you’ve got gift ideas lined up for the next few birthdays as he builds out his connected home. I’d recommend starting small with a Google Nest Mini* or Amazon Echo Dot, and some WiFi enabled lightbulbs to get things started.
Would dad be interested in the world of Virtual Reality? The Oculus Quest 2 is the latest all-in-one VR headset and is a truly revolutionary experience that will transport dads (and others!) all over the virtual world, providing a variety of experiences to enjoy.
Dad’s have plenty of gadgets and trinkets, and sometimes what they really want is an experience. But in my experience, our parents typically aren’t the best at knowing what events are coming into town. Few fathers are frantically pushing the refresh button when tickets go live for their favorite band, and an easy gift opportunity is to see what is coming into your town in the next 3-6 months or so and buy tickets! I recommend finding a few local venues in your hometown – these may vary from the small 100 person community theaters to large venues with world tours, and see what’s coming! It’s most often the small less known artists that can make for the best experiences. Comedians, cover bands, live movie screenings, community theater, art walks – all are overlooked local events that can create some of the greatest memories.
A few small additions to the kitchen can make a world of difference for a home chef. Your father may be using that old knife he’s had since he was a bachelor, and upgrading to a brand new, high quality knife can be the difference between diced potatoes and mashed potatoes for dinner. A single, nice chef’s knife is a quality item that can even become any home cook’s family heirloom.
If your dad is like me, he may also be the type who makes a mess, in the kitchen or at the grill – But “Kiss the cook” aprons aren’t currently (or really have ever been) fashionable. Upgrade him to a leather apron that he’ll find every excuse to wear it in the kitchen and in the workshop.
I’m pretty sure the longer you stare at “How nice the lawn looks,” the more dad-like you become. But it’s easy for just a few leaves, some sawdust, or dirt and debris to mess up that nice lawn and sidewalk. Two tools that can make all the difference, and are super fun and satisfying to use – a Cordless Leafblower, and a Pressure Washer.
This may seem counterintuitive – Mother’s Day is in May, right? If your parents are still married, one of the best Father’s Day gifts is to give your dad a nice date night with mom. See which hot new restaurants have recently opened up and get them a gift card to it – breaking them out of their routine dinner plans. Grant them a tour of their own town. How many parents have lived in the same town for decades and have never had the chance to explore it? Look up a local tour company that will give mom and dad an actual tour of your own hometown that may help them see it in a new way, together.
Plenty of guys love to take things apart, put them back together, and that doesn’t stop when you become a father! Even if they don’t want to admit it, toys that let you build and create are loved by all ages. You may have heard of Kiwi Crates – a series of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) related science and art projects delivered to your home. You may have heard of them as being age-appropriate for growing children, but what are dads other than big kids? The Eureka Crate is for ages 14-104 and can be bought as a monthly subscription, or as a one-off item.
Plenty of dads also like to read the paper, watch the news, read a book, or simply unwind at the end of the day with a cup of tea. Tea, though, has such a variety in quality, and is a product where a nicer selection can come at a higher cost – For dads who want to try a variety of items but don’t want to spend all the money exploring, get him a tea subscription! Sips By allows you to customize your tea based on your preferences, and dad can try a wide variety from all over the world, shipped directly to him monthly.
Performance tracking is increasingly popular for athletes – determining how to perform, at what level, and more importantly how to recover can be the difference from achieving optimal output and barely scraping by for days on end. WHOOP puts metrics behind the performance and recovery. I’ve personally used WHOOP for almost two years now to track my daily performance, sleep, recovery, output and general wellbeing. It’s used by professional athletes like Patrick Mahomes (NFL), Rory McIlroy (PGA), and Kevin Durant (NBA). The strap and tracker is free, but you’re paying for access to the data. And unlike other fitness trackers, it doesn’t need to be taken off to charge. A trial subscription can be a great way for data-driven dads to explore their own health.
Strava is the #1 app for runners and cyclists, and is even somewhat of a social network. Not only is it used to track runs, rides, hikes, walks, and more, but it’s integrated with a variety of other athletic platforms like Peloton. A subscription to Strava enhances the information provided, with Training Logs, cumulative stats, race analysis, custom goals, and wide variety of analytical tools for any athlete.
At the end of the day most of our pops don’t care too much about gifts themselves (frankly, they’d probably like to avoid the clutter); they really just want to spend time with their kids and feel loved and appreciated. Even for fathers that may appear thick-skinned on the outside, a deeply personal and intentional gift can often make for the most memorable gifts of their lifetime. Here’s a few final gift ideas that can really show Dad you care.
Addison Howard is a Denver, CO transplant via South Carolina, moving to the mountains to help start a church. He works in tech, likes taking way too long to tell simple stories and is great at pretending to be cool online.