You know when you buy Dad a tie as a Father’s Day gift, but he rarely dresses up? Or you get your husband a coupon book for various golf courses, and he never uses it because it turns out there are limitations on days and times, and none are convenient? Yeah, let’s avoid that, right? It was a thoughtful gift, targeting one of his interests, and reasonably priced . . . but in the end, not really practical. Time to simplify Father’s Day gift-giving. Here are 20 ideas for creative, thoughtful, meaningful gifts he’ll love — from tangible gifts to experiences, from free to more expensive.
Free or practically free:
I’m a firm believer in giving thoughtful gifts . . . it shows you truly know and understand a person, that you took time to find what was right for them, and — as they say — it’s the thought that counts! So don’t get caught up in how much you should spend. Here are some of my favorite free or practically free gifts for the father figures in your life:
- Play restaurant: Have the kids make up a restaurant name and make signs to put all around the house. Tell them what’s for dinner tonight — maybe Dad’s favorite meal? — and have them make a menu for it with good, old-fashioned markers and paper. Have Dad come to the kitchen entrance, where the kids can greet him as hostesses, seat him at the “restaurant,” and then take his order (from the very limited menu!). You cook the meal — and have the kids help if they can, and then they get to serve it to Dad. Top it off with a special dessert, and if you’re feeling in the spirit (even if it’s hokey!), sing “Happy Father’s Day to You!” to the tune of “Happy Birthday.”
- Make a footprint (or handprint) keepsake: I love homemade gifts that capture the heart of family. One of my favorites is actually hanging in our family room, and was so simple to make. This one is especially good if you have young kids — it captures their tiny cuteness and lets them get messy with purpose! Squirt bold color finger paint onto a paper plate like a painter’s palette. Gently swish the paint together, not so it blends into a brown mush, but so the colors are swirled. Have each child press one foot or hand onto the swirled paint, pick it straight up, and then press their foot or hand direction onto a piece of cardstock. Quickly wipe their feet/hands off with Wet Ones and paper towels. Let the cardstock with the prints on it dry, then frame it!
- Opposite Day: For all the things that Daddy usually does in a day, have the kids do it for Daddy instead! (Within reason and safety guidelines, of course! Please don’t have a toddler go mow the lawn). In my house, this could be things like making lunch or doing dishes. Yes, B is helpful like that!
- Coupon Book: Make Dad your own coupon book, either with pen and paper, or printed off a computer. Ideas include an outing for a local ice cream shop, a ticket for a free back rub, a month off of taking out the garbage, etc.
- Ice Cream Bar: Buy Dad’s favorite flavor of ice cream and some chocolate sauce, sprinkles, M&M’s, whipped cream, and whatever else will make it fun and delicious. Surprise him with an after-lunch or after-dinner make-your-own-sundae bar!
- Make a “What I love about you” book: Ask the kids some questions about what they love about Dad: What’s the favorite thing Dad cooks you? What’s your favorite thing to play with Dad? Where do you most love to go with Dad? Etc. Capture their answers in a book (or a video!) and sprinkle in some pictures of the fam for a sentimental keepsake he’ll hold onto forever.
- Take a break, Dad: Does Dad need a break? A day to himself? Alright. I suppose. Give in and give it to him, even if the kids did eat the breakfast they served you in bed on Mother’s Day and then proceeded to behave like total rascals and say “Mom?” every 42 seconds for the rest of the day. Don’t hold a grudge. Go ahead and give Dad a day.
A bit more expensive:
If you’re willing to spend a bit more, here are some quick and easy options:
- Tour a local winery or brewery, and enjoy lunch and tastings there.
- Attend a local sports game. Minor league games tend to be more affordable and just as much fun.
- Life is Good t-shirt. Find the one that best matches Dad’s interests.
- Polaroid (or Fujifilm Instax Mini) camera: My childhood was filled with the snap of a Polaroid camera at my grandparents’ house, and the fun of gently shaking the photo until the image appeared. New versions of the camera are fun for adults and kids alike, and could be a fun/silly activity for the kids to play with Dad.
- Restaurant gift certificate, for a date-night or full family outing.
- Outdoor sports stuff, to make sure Dad is at the center of family fun.
- Bucket of Fun: Buy a big popcorn bowl or serving bowl, and fill it with Dad’s favorite drinks and snacks, a gift certificate to his favorite place to go for lunch, some candy, microwave popcorn, and a movie, Or make it seasonal with a beach towel and tshirt, some sunscreen, new flip flops, and a “save the date” card for a family beach day.
More expensive still:
- Golf lesson with a pro.. Some golf courses offer that!
- Customized bobblehead. This one cracks me up. It’s what I gave B for his birthday this year. The only watchout is that it requires some advance planning (not ideal for 2018 Father’s Day since it’s already June) as you go back and forth with the company to alter the details and get the bobblehead to look most like its recipient.
- Staycation night away at a local hotel, for the family to enjoy dinner out and a hotel pool.
- Personalized art. I’m in the process of having this created via an Etsy shop. All I had to do was send her a photo, and she turned us into cute little characters.
- A trip to a local casino, and $100 to gamble with.
- Concert tickets. For whatever band or show is coming soon, which he loves.
So, which of these easy ideas will you go for? Or do you have other gifts in mind? I’d love to hear from you!
Thanks to all the father figures out there making the world a better place!