Dads are really hard to shop for, but our readers know how to deliver a perfect one-two punch of usefulness and sentimentality. Dads are some of the hardest people to shop for. What do you think are good gifts for dads?
Dads can be very hard to shop for. Some dads have a tendency to only like things you can’t afford. Or they don’t tell you what they want. Or they buy everything they want for themselves and then leave you nothing to get them, and you wind up sending weird novelty gifts. I’ve purchased a lot of really bad gifts for dads in my day — Whiskey Stones seemed like a good idea, but were not — but sometimes, though, you find some good ones.
I think I’m batting about 50 percent in the success/failure category, but here are some of the good ones:
Finding your dad a new author whom he will love and whose books he hasn’t read yet is one of the best gifts you can give a dad–or anyone, really. That’s especially true if the author has a very, very long list of books out already because getting through an oeuvre like that can keep a person busy for years. My father, for example, is obsessed with Lee Child. I sent him one at the recommendation of a coworker who called the Jack Reacher series “the ultimate dad books.” That’s not a dig. I haven’t actually read them. But my father liked it so much he ran to his nearest bookstore to ask if they had more. Of course, he was traveling in Florida at the time, and the guy at the bookstore threw him some side-eye and said, “We’re in a retirement community in a Republican area in Florida. We can’t keep those books on the shelves. There’s like a three-week waiting list for those.”.
Ice Ball Mold
One of the best presents I found for my dad was this mold for making spherical ice cubes, which are great if your dad likes brown alcohol on the rocks.
Then I hit an even better note with this neat ice ball maker from Wintersmiths, which actually makes ice balls that are completely clear and not at all cloudy. It’s a neat trick. At $85, the thing is expensive, but people who like cocktails will go totally nuts if you give them one.
I know giving one’s dad socks is a cliche, but these bright, colorful socks by Happy Socks are very nice comfortable socks. If your dad is the type to wear flamboyant socks–and if he is, you’ll probably know already–he will probably love these.
But shopping for dads is still really hard. What’s the best gift you’ve ever given yours?
These Are the Best Gifts for Dads, According to Our Readers and Staff
Whenever the holidays start to roll around, I always start thinking about dad gifts first because dads are notoriously difficult to buy for. (And also, my dad’s birthday is around Thanksgiving, so that’s right about when I have to start shopping for the year.) But our readers and staff are ready with a nearly foolproof list of the best gifts for dads, for whatever kind of dad you might need to be shopping for.
A lot of dads like whiskey, but my dad’s whiskey is definitely out of my price range. I’ve in the past had success with whiskey paraphernalia like Wintersmith’s ice ball maker (I want one too, but there’s no room for one in my current freezer) and “dad books” like Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series.
But just as I was running out of ideas, you guys had some excellent ones.
Anne Marie’s fancy copy of the U.S. Constitution is an idea so good I am going to steal it for my father-in-law:
“I gave my dad a fancy hard-bound copy of the US Constitution for his birthday this year, and he LOVES it. (He studied polisci back in the Stone Age and is currently a Civil War reenactor, and his primary hobby is arguing with people about politics, so it works.) He’s called me like eight times since I gave it to him in September to tell me how much he loves to make a show of pulling it out and finding the relevant section when he’s explaining to someone Why They Are Wrong. I’m just glad I gave it to him AFTER I moved to a different state.”
Carol likes to go with the classics: Socks and action movies. But she also notes that shopping is much easier when you pay attention to what your dad is doing at any given moment.
“You cannot go wrong with socks or action movies/box sets (classics or new releases.) I also try to get something related to one of the projects my dad always has on the go.”
Meanwhile, Natalie has come through with a perfect holiday one-two punch of usefulness and sentimentality.
“My dad likes weird, random functional tools, like the air compressor I got him last year. He also LOVES Wigwam Brand Wool Socks, so I usually get a pair of those. They are really nice.
I often print out a few pictures of me/us/family for him to hang in his office from the past year because he never would print.”
That’s just perfect, and also nice and frugal.
Kayla’s shopping list is so good I want everything on it for myself.
“My dad likes whiskey (especially Widow Jane, which is made in Brooklyn and excellent) and useful Doctor Who products (drinking receptacles, blankets…). He really loves the Dalek coffee mug I got him last year and sends me pictures of him in the Snuggie I got him for his birthday.”
And Eliza is so posh and classy I imagine that she and her dad live in Downton Abbey.
“I’ve yet to actually give the gift yet, but my dad and I have plans to go to a cigar bar I found in Soho. He smokes them during the summer, and I grew up with the smell and eventually grew to like smoking them too, so it’ll be a nice nostalgic thing.”
That one is cool and personal, and one should never underestimate the excellence of experiential gifts. Dads are just as sentimental as the rest of us, so instead of just wrapping up a present, consider planning something cool that you will do together, like going to a cigar bar or a Storm Trooper convention. (Hey, you know your dad better than we do.)
Any other good ideas? Share the knowledge in the comments!