As Father’s Day rolls around (Sunday, June 21st), stores and online retailers will push last-minute neckties, golfing gadgets, and ridiculous gags like Beer Soap as splendid gifts for your Dad. And as a nation of consumers, Americans will spend billions on dear old dad. According to the National Retail Federation, consumers spent $12.5 billion on Father’s Day gifts in 2014. That’s a lot of silly stuff sitting in a closet, untouched.
How practical is a bar of soap which makes daddy smell like a drunkard? Not very. And that’s the big issue I have with “traditional” Father’s Day gifts. I find neckties (a fashion holdover from the mid 1600’s) to be incredibly impractical, since I don’t often have the need to wear one. I don’t golf, so the novelty of golf-themes is lost on me. I don’t fish, hunt, gamble, work on cars, collect motorcycles, watch sports, whittle, produce massive amounts of facial hair, nor do I consider myself outdoorsy, rugged, or particularly “manly”. As far as the hottest Father’s Day gift ideas go, I’m not in the demographic.
Before I get into the list of 10 Practical Father’s Day Gift Ideas, I feel like these are just great gift ideas, period. For anyone. For any occasion. In fact, I bought most of them for myself, to commemorate no particular holiday. And these are things I’ve used more than most possessions I own. So take the title of this article with a grain of salt, and read on. Because I think you’ll see something on this list that you or someone you know will really enjoy. And clicking the pics of the items in the list will take you where you can purchase them online.
This was a mainstay gift for my own father, and I love them too. Dry roasted peanuts are relatively inexpensive, you can buy them anywhere, and they’re practical. Just remember that some people are extremely allergic to peanuts – so as a back-up, I recommend cashews.
A man’s fascination with temperature and humidity increases with age, so this is a gift which benefits from long-range practicality. And as electronic gadgets go, this one fits three major criteria: 1. It’s inexpensive (you could buy a few for different rooms around the house). 2. It’s versatile (On the back of the unit, there’s a magnet, and a clip, which also turns into a stand so it can sit upright on a desk). 3. It’s easy to use.
It’s a top seller on Amazon, and I tried two other similarly priced models out first before getting stocked up with Acurites. The benefit is that we can keep a handle on the humidity in the basement, and we know that the kiddos are comfortable in the rest of the house, without needlessly running up heating/cooling bills.
8. Classic Video Game Emulator – Prices vary depending on features, ranging from $15 to $100
If Dad is between 30 and 50 years old (give or take), he probably played classic console video games at some point in his youth. Even if he wasn’t a subscriber to Nintendo Power magazine (like me), or didn’t obsess over the differences between Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis (like me) – he’ll probably still enjoy the occasional trip down memory lane. There are many products that offer the retro gaming experience – and some are better than others, so read reviews before you buy. I’m partial to this Sega Genesis model from At Games, because it comes pre-loaded with dozens of games and includes control pads, but also allows for use of most original Sega control pads, as well as playing most of the original cartridges too (which I fortunately still own).
You might be thinking, “Fifty bucks for a wallet? That’s a bit steep.” And yes, you can certainly find less expensive wallets. But as I said before, this is a list of things I use and really like. My Taxi Wallet is about ten years old, and it’s holding up better than any other wallet I’ve owned. I think the reason it’s $50 is because it’s so well constructed that Dad may never need another new wallet.
6. BEM Bluetooth Speaker – $30
As a stay-home dad for the last two years, I’ve listened to untold hours of podcasts and held countless impromptu dance parties while streaming music via my phone – and I’ve done it with this bluetooth speaker from BEM. It’s got great sound quality and power (for such a small object), an approximate 6hr battery life (it’s rechargeable with a standard micro USB charger), and even an aux input/output for other sources or audio equipment. The only downsides to this little powerhouse are: 1. The touch-sensitive controls are easy to inadvertently touch when moving the speaker. 2. This speaker is so popular that availability is running low on Amazon (in most colors/styles). On a side note, I bought mine at Costco.
5. A Headlamp – Under $10
I wouldn’t consider myself a handyman, but I’ve gotten plenty of small projects done around the house over the years. The one problem I used to experience, whether it was while replacing a light switch or swapping out a bathroom faucet, has been lack of light. I’ve actually got several different headlamps which I’ve accumulated over the years – and they’re all great. The headlamp pictured is one of the highest rated (and least expensive) featured on Amazon. So getch’er pops one of these, and you’ll never have to hold a flashlight for him again.
4. Stanley Ratcheting Screwdrivers – Under $15
By the time most people have children (especially kids who are old enough to purchase them presents), they already have an abundance of screwdrivers in a variety of styles and sizes. But I put it to you that having a screwdriver in every room of your home is the sign of a civilized society. And from the first moment I used a ratcheting screwdriver, I could no longer use a regular screwdriver without breathing a little sigh of disgust. Why does ratcheting matter? Because you can keep the bit seated in the screw head while you crank away – often with very little rotation needed. Just buy one for your dad and one for yourself. Trust me.
3. Time To Do Nothing – Free of Charge
The one thing everybody needs more of is time. And not time to accomplish things, but the time specific to youth – the purpose of which is to have no purpose. I’ve been fortunate that my family has always embraced the idea of occasional breaks from being a responsible adult. Being able to enjoy a day or evening here and there allows you to cease being a responsible adult and focus on the “here and now”. Whether spending time with friends, chilling in a hammock, going for a hike, playing video games, or tidying up the garage (slowly, with no expectations) – it’s therapeutic.
2. A Streaming Device – $35, plus service fees for Netflix, Hulu, etc…
I watch very little in the way of TV shows and movies, I don’t really care for network television programming, and I like not having to pay over fifty bucks a month for cable. To that end, we cut the cord well over a year ago, and have used Roku boxes since. I’m very happy with that decision. In the last couple of years, the options for streaming devices and services have blown-up, bringing prices lower than ever. You can snag a sweet Amazon Fire stick for about $35 (comparable to Google Chrome, Roku Stick, and so forth), and a Netflix subscription for an extra $15 a month and you’ll be all set. An Amazon Prime subscription also includes plenty of free content via Prime (very similar content to Netflix). And you get the free two-day shipping deal on most orders – so consider that if you already order a lot from them. I’ve also heard good things about Sling TV, which has some fantastic features and can be used with most streaming devices, so give a look at their plans if you’re looking to cut cable.
1. A Custom Coffee Mug – Under $15
The one thing on this list that sort of fits the “traditional” Father’s Day gift ideas is a coffee mug. But, boy, talk about practical. I drink a lot of coffee, between waking early and working late, I need all the caffeine I can drink. My absolute favorite coffee vessel is the 15oz ceramic mug they sell via Snapfish. Just upload your picture, maybe a caption, and you’ll have your new mug before you know it. The picture you see is practically real-time. I’m probably doing that at this very moment.