All too often, dads don’t want to make a big deal about Father’s Day. That instinct comes from a good place, but the thing is, your family wants to make a big deal out of you. Our advice? Accept it, but give your family a bit of direction on the gifting front. (After all, it’s that or get something you don’t want or need.) To make it extra-easy, you can just print out the following list, mark it up with your very favorite ideas, and leave it somewhere your family will see it. Consider this our Father’s Day gift to you.
#1: A lesson
Most of us forsook some of our hopes and dreams when we became a father. We’re not resentful—it was probably long past time for us to realize that becoming a rock star and/or painting a museum-worthy masterpiece and/or donning a green jacket in Augusta isn’t gonna happen. But we can relive past glories—and create new ones—through the magic of lessons, whether we’re learning something for the first time or just reacquainting ourselves with our hobbies of yesteryear. Better yet, they’re something we can share with junior. Guitar lessons = lullaby magic. Art lessons = painting together with the kiddo. Beer-making lessons = … well, maybe that one’s just for dad.
For a ballgame. Or a concert. Or heck, just a movie we want to see. It doesn’t have to be on the day itself, the seats don’t have to be amazing, and it can even be a full-family outing. But this is a case where the thought—and the effort that goes into planning the outing—is really what counts.
And by tools we mean both literal tools and the tools we needs to practice our favorite hobby. If we love to bang away in the garage, an upgraded wrench set will be a welcome gift. If dad’s a lawn obsessive, there are plenty of nice rakes and mowers on the market. Does he find peacemaking dinner? Get him a new set of knives. Even if his hobby is digital—maybe he’s a fantasy football champ, or loves doing genealogy research—your options range from online subscriptions to upgrading his home office setup. The idea here is to find the thing he’s passionate about, and make his experience a little more enjoyable.
#4: An afternoon doing what we love best, only more so
If we’re a Sunday driver, look into getting a session at an area race track, speeding around in the car of our dreams. If we like going for a run, investigate the best area hikes for a special day outside. No matter what he loves to do, there’s probably a nice experiential version of it available out there.
#5: A guys’ night
Look. It’s not that we don’t love you or the kids. It’s just that sometimes we need to reconnect with our friends—not just in the old-fashioned, boys having fun sense, but in the modern, how-are-you-really-feeling sense. (After all, study after study shows that men in particular suffer from loneliness as they get older, and that this loneliness can have a detrimental effect on our health.) So whether it’s clear out some space so he can host poker night, or keeping an eye on the kids so we can go to trivia at the local pub, or just reaching an understanding that if his beloved team makes the playoffs, he’ll be able to meet up with his buddies to watch the game, you’re doing it for his health. (No. Really.)
#6: Date night plans
Conversely, many of us find that, after our first child is born, the hardest person to spend time out with is … our significant other. There’s the expense of a babysitter, not to mention the back and forth of finding and booking someone in the first place. If dad’s the one who typically does this, he’ll appreciate you surprising him by handling the planning. And for most dads, the destination doesn’t have to be fancy. Maybe there’s a new restaurant you’ve been meaning to try, or an old haunt you guys used to go to when you were dating. Frankly, it doesn’t even have to be dinner or a movie—book tennis lessons, or something else that lets you be active, and maybe even a little competitive. Think of something you used to love doing, and just do it.
#7: Something heartfelt
A card that you write with the kids. A small photo album he can keep in his desk at work. A YouTube reel of your favorite family videos. The truth is, some of us are criers, and this is a great excuse to indulge. We’re grateful for you, and creating something we can revisit time and time again over the next 12 months is a beautiful gift.
#8: A nice bottle of something
Sure, this is as much a cliche as giving us a tie, but you can’t drink a tie. If you’re short on time, and short on ideas (even after reading this article), go with a bottle of something he likes. No dad has ever been disappointed with that.
#9: Life insurance
If this is one of those things you’ve been meaning to get to, but just haven’t made time for yet, there’s no time like the present. Better yet, you can fold it into one of the above gifts—maybe you go to that local coffee shop / bar with WiFi and start an online application for Haven Term life insurance over a coffee (Irish or not, up to you). And remember, a 35-year-old man in excellent health could get a $500,000 / 20-year Haven Term policy issued by MassMutual for around $21 per month.
#10: A nap
If the kids are younger, you’re probably sleep deprived and could use a nap. If the kids are older, you might be, too, and so you could use a nap. If your family want to throw in something nap-friendly—a sleep mask, a nice robe, a hammock—all the better. But the most important thing is giving pops some quiet space to catch some Z’s. (P.S.: He’ll rest a little easier if you guys have already taken care of gift #9.)
Louis Wilson is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in a wide array of publications, both online and in print. He often writes about travel, sports, popular culture, men’s fashion and grooming, and more. He lives in Austin, Texas, where he has developed an unbridled passion for breakfast tacos, with his wife and two children.
Opinions expressed by the author are their own, and do not necessarily represent the views of Haven Life.