16 creative Father's Day gifts
Dads are hard to shop for. They tend to either want things that are prohibitively expensive, or they just buy what they need when they need it. So we have to be clever, and find them gifts they didn't even know they wanted until we plunked it down in their lap.
I devote this Father's Day list to the acknowledgment that parents sometimes have to give up ideas about themselves and their futures to become parents. Here are a few gifts to bring dad a little closer to the life he had planned, and may one day regain, once he's done doing the hard labor (of love) he's currently signed on for.
(Editor's note: The Week has affiliate partnerships with certain retailers and may get a share of the revenue from your purchase.)
For the Really Organized and Tidy Dad
Once upon a time, Tidy Dad would vacuum perfect tracks into the carpet at his studio apartment. Each week he laid out a seven-day supply of clean and pressed clothing, each in its own shelf of his closet organizer. Now he glances at the chocolate milk congealing on his best silk tie with utter indifference. Here are some gifts that might help him regain just a little bit of that lost organization.
1. Battery Organizer and Tester ($13)
Sweet Alessandro Volta, just look at it! Well, pretend you are your dad and look at it. Holds 82 batteries! Even the ones you're only going to use once or twice in a lifetime, like those little round watch batteries! Not only that, dad can test the battery power remaining right there on the organizer, without even needing one of those immaculately displayed batteries to power the tester! Buy it at Amazon.
2. Dual-Sided Mobile Bin Rack ($194)
Have you ever found dad wandering the aisles at the hardware store, contemplating bin after bin of what appears to be the exact same type of screw? Well, they aren't the same. Each bin speaks a unique poetry to your father, that only he can hear. Let him bring the experience home with his own 94-bin mobile rack. Let him swivel the lockable wheels. Let him test its 300-plus-pound holding capacity. Oh! Look. It's double sided. This will be to him as gardens and yoga are to others. Buy it at Amazon.
3. Multi-Purpose Steam Cleaner ($35)
What, you think hubcaps are meant to be dirty just because they drive through dirt all the time? Then why, the Tidy Father would ask, are they made of such shiny chrome? Tidy Dad could probably point out a dozen different places in your house that you didn't know were supposed to be maintained in showroom condition. The carpet for instance. What you consider "regular wear and tear" is an abomination to the man who had to pay for it. With this portable, high-heat, multiple attachment steamer, he can clean everything to his sky-high standards. He can even unwrinkle his best shirts without having to resort to something as primitive as an iron. There is very little this machine can't do. Don't let him cook with it. He's probably going to try. Buy it at Amazon.
4. Shed ($592)
It's not a man cave. It's not a closet, or a garage. It's simply a space. His space. Lockable, affordable, protected from the elements, and small enough for any yard. What will he put in it? We couldn't say. Whatever it is, he can arrange it in any secret organizational system he wishes and no one can mess it up. Buy it at Amazon.
For the World Traveler Dad
Sometimes, after having children, a man's world becomes a little smaller than he imagined it was going to be. All that Eastern European couch surfing he intended seems more and more unlikely. So bring the world to dad, sating his wanderlust with great gifts from abroad.
5. Jam Foreign Language Flashcards ($4)
Via your Kindle, Jam teaches the most useful of words from the hardest of languages. Cantonese, Russian, and even English are available to help dad cultivate the tongue of a master globetrotter. If nothing else, he'll at least be able to watch foreign movies about those places with greater ease. Buy it at Amazon.
6. Destination Dinners ($30)
Destination Dinner kits — such as this mouthwatering Korean Bulgogi Fire Meat Kit — come with everything dad will need to create the authentic taste of faraway cultures, save the actual meat and other perishable ingredients. Which frankly is for the best. Buy it at Amazon.
7. Compact Luggage ($349)
Eventually, dad will get to go somewhere. And when he does, he'll want to travel light, because that's the kind of fleet-footed man of the world he is. The Briggs & Riley Baseline Luggage Compact Tri-Fold Garment Bag allows him to fold three days' worth of travel supplies, including full suits, into one carry-on size bundle that's just over a foot high. This luggage rates as extremely durable and comfortable to carry, and it could probably also hold a few containers of breast milk in an emergency. Buy it at Amazon.
Anyone who would think to mock a gift such as this would only do so if processed cheese spread on saltines meets all their culinary requirements. To those fathers with a more developed palate, it is known that cheese, like chocolate and wine, is one of the most diverse and satisfying foods the world over, and that no two countries make the same indigenous product. If he is a man of true taste, let dad sample all that the various cow, goat, and sheep udders of the world have to offer. Buy it at Amazon.
For the Forever Young Dad
So he wears board shorts, ironic T-shirts, and sideways baseball caps over his thinning dome. He watches cartoons when no children are in the house. And, yeah, he once knocked over a display of 40 cereal boxes because he was so shocked to hear Nirvana playing at the grocery store. No one said you ever had to grow up to be a great dad.
9. Licensed T-shirts (prices vary)
What were the favorite parts of your dad's youth? Not the family holidays or personal achievement parts. I mean which soda defined him as a teenager? Which early-days game console did he have? What movie does he still quote ad naseum? Or maybe a book, a TV show, a band. Whichever it is, a good and proper licensed T-shirt probably exists to help him do his part to let the world know that neither art, nor fashion, is dead. Buy it at Amazon.
10. Collector's Action Figures (prices vary)
"Collectible" is a wide term, encompassing $1,500 1/6 models of the Batmobile to the $27 Funko POP version of the same. So it should be easy to find a keepsake that fits both style and budget for your pop. Marvel, Dr. Who, Star Wars, The Rocky Horror Picture Show; even the most obscure Simpsons characters to ever cross a television screen. Whatever your dad's obsession, there exists a tiny doll to represent it. Buy it at Amazon.
11. Gaming Chair ($130)
Dad is a grown man now. His joints are getting creaky and his hearing and vision aren't what they used to be. So there's no reason he should be playing his video games all scrunched up on a beanbag. He needs a man's gaming chair, like the X Rocker. Compatible with all major platforms, the X Rocker has built-in subwoofers, wireless transmission, input/output jacks, and of course, ergonomic design to support dad's habit and his lumbar. Buy it at Amazon.
12. Treehouse Kit ($602)
It is a pity that some of the greatest thrills of childhood cannot happen without an adult's help. If your dad missed out on a particular one of those blessings, the treehouse, it is time for him to use his adult strength, geometry skills, and credit card (lumber is not included) to build his own, with the help of Tree House Supplies Inc Octagon Treehouse Kit. After all, he's going to need a place from which to launch his zipline. Buy it at Amazon.
For the Super Classy Dad
You know the type: a Draper-like, debonair man of taste. Oh, the art gallery openings and galas he would enliven had he the time between potty-training breaks! Here are a few gifts to help him stay classy.
13. Fancy shaving kits (prices vary)
Shaving has become, to some men, a form of morning meditation. Many men simply can't put a price on a truly exemplary shave. For the die-hard traditionalist, there's the $160 A.P Donovan mahogany straight razor set, complete with Japanese steel blade, badger soap brush, and leather strop. Or perhaps a gentleman prefers the classic safety razor set, like the $145 German-made Muhle Grand Wet Shave Classic, which along with aloe-based facial treatments also thoughtfully includes a styptic pen. And for $50, dad can be the proud owner of the more rustic Gentleman Jon Complete Wet Shave kit, with sandalwood shaving soap and an old-fashioned alum block to combat razor burn. All of which is guaranteed to make any dad a dashing one.
14. James Bond Box Set ($191)
Think of it as the complete multi-volume instruction manual for how to be the ultimate playboy, gentleman spy, and Defender of the Crown. You may not realize your father has need for that instruction, but he knows he does. Buy it at Amazon.
15. Cigar Humidor ($40)
Let's be clear: Smoking is not good for you. Even when concerning the ultra-masculine, expensive, and high-class indulgence of fine cigars. But if your dad is wont to indulge in an unhealthy but time-honored habit, help him keep his tobacco fine with this Built-In Hygrometer Aluminum Travel Humidor. It holds seven cigars and allows dad to keep tabs on the moisture his Havanas are exposed too, ensuring the best smoke possible alone in the garage after the kids have gone to bed. Buy it at Amazon.
Alcohol isn't good for you either, by the way. But with the application of skill and moderation, dad can become an expert, not a boozer. This book, while potentially passing as bedtime story reading, also helps dad learn the basics of fine scotch and rye before he even steps foot in the bar. This will save him time at social functions, allowing him to get back home in time for his shift working tub time. Buy it at Amazon.