These gifts range from the practical to way over the top.
By J.V. Bolkan
Father’s Day can be a real challenge for the spawn who wants to give back. June 21 is fast approaching, so what do you give the man that for the first decades of your life pretty much gave you all he could? Speaking as a father myself, the answer is simple—give him some of your time, and the best present you can. If you’re a jerk (or were one during your teen years), your time may not be enough, in which case you probably should strive for the better options presented below.
I’ve found five pretty solid gift categories that should fit almost every dad out there. Within those categories, I’ve highlighted an option that may be a bit extravagant (just how big of a jerk were you?), another that may be the “sweet spot” (perfect if you were a typical teenage jerk), and a budget option if it turns out Dad was a bigger jerk than you during those teen years.
1. Outdoor Cooking
Father’s Day just happens to fall in the beginning of summer, which makes barbeques and outdoor cooking equipment a natural choice for gifts. You can head down to the local hardware or variety store and find a good selection of grills to fit within pretty much any budget. That’s probably where you’ll find a sweet-spot or budget option. You’ll almost certainly see some grills that approach true over-the-top status, but to really set the bar above anything those siblings can ever do, you’re going to need to special order.
Cal-Flame (http://calflamebbq.com) doesn’t focus on competition style barbeques (the other way to spend some serious cash). Rather, the company puts its efforts into making sure that the man of the house (OK, mansion) has a kitchen outdoors that rivals the one his wife’s chef uses inside. Actually, at prices around $30,000, the owner of a top-of-the-line Cal-Flame system probably employs both an indoor chef and one dedicated to making sure the wieners are perfectly done.
There are a few simply crazy features you can get in your Cal-Flame cooking island, and a few that are truly awesome. A flat-screen TV? How about three. Because even during the game, you’ll want to keep an eye on the financial channel, and another dedicated to showing a live feed from your gold vault. Beyond the TV excess are paired waterfall features, a killer sound system, and even a screened “fireplace”. Super useful features include an icemaker, refrigerator/freezer, and tons of storage. It also cooks very well.
There are tons of options here, and truthfully, you’ll have a really tough time messing this up. The big variable here is whether your Dad is a charcoal guy or a gas man. You’ve got too much stress already, just choose the best of both and get him a grill that burns both.
Walmart has exactly that, a large grill that burns charcoal or gas. It doesn’t have a single TV, but it does come with a built-in bottle opener. Better yet, at only $198, you can probably afford to pick up a couple nice rib-eye steaks and make some serious Dad points!
Dad probably already has a grill, right? A bag of briquettes or a tank of propane just doesn’t have the right “gift appeal”. When money is tight, the best idea isn’t to get him something better than what he has, get him something he wouldn’t buy for himself.
A customized apron from Customized Girl (www.customizedgirl.com) at only $19.95 is a great choice. The price includes 4-color design, so you could plaster your face on it so he’ll have no trouble remembering who the best child is (unless one of your siblings bought him the Cal-Fire Island).
Really not far from outdoor cooking where every Dad secretly imagines he’s roasting the ferocious beast he slayed bare-handed, camping lets the primal Dad beast take it a step further. As with any gift idea, you’ll really want to take Dad’s personality, capabilities, and basic outdoorsy-ness into account. In historical terms, we all may have been sleeping outdoors yesterday, but not every Dad wants or can sleep on the ground.
Over the top
There is nothing primal about any RV, and when you get into the best RVs, there are absolutely no hints of roughing it. Marathon Coach (www.marathoncoach.com) makes one of the ultimate Father’s Day gifts. Starting well beyond $1.5 million and only topping out when your imagination for gilding, flashy gadgets, and places to nestle sparkly gems is exhausted, these mansions on wheels are inherently custom.
You can count on complete spa-level bathroom and shower, king or larger beds, televisions virtually everywhere, a kitchen capable of impressing with looks and gourmet production, and the ability to forego civilization (massive generators, water storage, etc.) without becoming uncivilized. Decadently beyond luxurious, if you’ve been thinking of putting dear old Dad into a home—this is the ultimate way to do so! (2fer: Some RVs also feature a slide-out grill on the side for outside barbeques).
Sure, you can find RVs for a lot less than $1.5 million, but even a modest tent trailer is going to be many thousands, and Dad has to have a vehicle capable of towing the trailer. The venerable tent is a great choice if your Dad loves the outdoors and is still willing and able to rough it a bit. As with grilling (charcoal vs. gas), there are really two classes of tent—backpacking and campsite. Leaning a bit toward the ultralight backpacking category, but suitable for more wild campsite use, hanging tents are a fairly new trend in camping.
Tentsile (www.tentsile.com) makes an entire line of hammocks and suspended tents. The connect tree tent allows you to add other tents and build a forest city in the tree canopy. For $495, Dad won’t have to worry about sleeping on rocks. Throw in some miscellaneous camping gear (sleeping bags, camp stove, etc.) and send your Pater up a tree for the night.
Is Dad a swinger? Get him a tree tent. (companion not included).
S’mores! Seriously, you can’t hardly go wrong with chocolate bars, marshmallows, graham crackers, and open fire. You can pick up the edibles at any supermarket for less than $10 (and be able to make a dozen S’mores).
Pick up a handy Rolla roaster stick from REI (www.rei.com) for $12.99 and you’ve assembled everything needed but the fire. Let Dad build the fire, Dad’s like that.
3. Wearable Tech
He probably helped you get dressed hundreds, maybe even thousands of times, now you can return the favor. You can also help Dad realize that not all computers sit on a desk and a “watch” can do an awful lot more than keep ticking after taking a licking. (I digress a bit here…for younger folk, that last sentence refers to the Timex watch company’s 1950s and 60s ad campaign showing the toughness of their watches.)
Typically, your outrageously expensive wrist products are either legendary precision time pieces such as Rolex or Bulgari made with precious metals, or a pretty good watch that some jeweler has settled into a band of flawless diamonds and gold. The Apple smart watch, at $10,000 really doesn’t compete at the high-end luxury watch market where a Patek Philippe Ref 5016P sells for $762,000. However, the Apple is basically the same watch as its sub-$500 version, but with an 18-carat gold case and buckle. Still, if you really want to impress Dad with how much money doesn’t mean to you, and perplex him at the same time, give him a first-generation smart watch that probably cost more than his first new car.
Dad’s been in the 21st Century just as long as you have, maybe longer. His wrist might really be ready for something a bit more useful than just a watch, even if he isn’t quite ready for a $10,000 smart watch. Consider a fitness tracker; he may love it, but he’ll certainly know that you love him and want him to stay/get healthy.
The Fitbit Charge HR (www.fitbit.com) at $149 isn’t going to break your bank and it has zero gold accents. Dad won’t wear it unless he is into fitness, concerned about his health, or a major gadget geek. If he is any of those things, he’ll absolutely love this tracker. It can replace that trusty old Timex, it has a watch function, also an alarm function. Of course, the device’s real purpose is sleep monitoring and especially activity tracking all with an eye (sensor) on heart rate. If Dad is a big swimmer, or an avid runner, this might not be ideal for him (it is water-resistant, but not really for the pool, and it has no GPS for logging precise running sessions). However, it can tell when he’s sleeping, how deep that sleep is, when he’s at rest and when he’s engaged in light and heavy-duty exercise. It can even show him who is calling his smartphone—it’ll probably be your jealous siblings trying to figure out why you’ve suddenly become his favorite.
It may lack actual technology, but a tie is certainly wearable and they come in a lot of colors. You might also consider getting him a replacement band for that old Timex he’s been sporting for years.
4. Sports Gear
Dad’s have been bonding with their children through sporting since, well at least since that nice Andy Taylor took little Opie down to the fishing hole (another digression here: Those were characters on a TV show so old that it was in black and white.) Fishing, playing catch, and other sporting activities allow a Dad to spend quality time with the offspring without too much awkward hugging or discussions involving feelings. Dad’s love sports because they remind him of time spent with his Dad while he avoided his emotions.
Honma’s (www.honmagolf.com is the U.S. distributor) top of the line golf clubs probably aren’t seen too often on your local public course, probably not too often at your local country club either. Imagine dad showing up at the local country club, Montecristo in hand, sporting these clubs! They run about $75,000 for a complete set of 14, but it’ll cost you another $8,000 for the bag to hold them. This is a little silly, even for this article.
Yes, the clubs are playable, and some people (Donald Trump reportedly has a set) do actually buy them. However, the basic Honma set (without all the jewels, gold, and other precious metal decoration) play just as well and cost a more reasonable $6,000. In a world where an excellent, near pro-quality set from major manufacturers can be had for less than $3,000, even the base Honma’s must be considered over-the-top. You can’t just buy these at any sporting goods store. They need to be custom ordered and only from a qualified Honma dealer (you’ll need Dad to go in for a fitting, so there goes your surprise!)
Get your Dad outfitted for fishing. Cabelas has an incredible selection of poles, reels, and pretty much everything else you need except for biting fish. Of course you can go over-the-top a bit at Cabelas, but you can easily put together a very nice spinning rod and reel or even a fly rod and reel for less than $200. For that same amount, you can get a perfectly serviceable rod, reel, tackle box, and assortment of tackle.
The thing about fishing is that it can be a fairly inexpensive hobby, but there is always another piece of gear, some hip-waders, specialty reels (and rods), and then of course you can wander into the realm of float tubes and boats…basically, you’ll have no shortage of ideas for future Father’s Day gifts if you can get him hooked on the sport.
Who doesn’t like to play a little catch? Baseball is the traditional “catch” combo, all you need is a glove and a ball (well, you’re going to need a glove yourself or Dad will be left playing “throw and chase”). You don’t need a professional-level glove, $499 glove. A decent one from any sporting goods store can be found for less than $40, and maybe as little as $25. A baseball costs about $5.
5. Man Cave
He doesn’t even need a dedicated room. Any Dad can make his cave wherever he sits down to watch some TV. Basically, outfitting your Dad’s “man cave” simply means getting him something that he can use inside. Although the category is wide open, the space is dominated by one thing—the TV.
There are multi-million dollar televisions out there (of course there are!) but to be “practical,” Samsung’s S9 at a mere $40,000 may actually fit in your Dad’s house and that 40 large is actually going toward an incredible picture, not a lot of gold and diamond bezel decoration.
The S9 LED television is ultra high definition (4K) of course, it is also curved and has a cool stand. At 85-inches diagonal (really about 84.5 inches) it will certainly make an impression in all but the largest rooms. Of course, almost as quickly as I can scour the web for televisions like this, newer, bigger, better, and more expansive models come out. At the same time, models that match the specs, even from Samsung, have arrived or been announced at much lower prices. In other words, you can always spend $40,000 or so for the biggest, best home television, or you can wait 6 months and that same level of TV will be about $20,000—which when you think about it, is still well over the top for a Father’s Day gift.
No one thinks video games and Dad’s, but that is exactly why it is perfect! In reality, today’s top video game consoles are really much, much more than Donkey Kong or even Halo and Mortal Combat. The Sony Playstation 4 can be found at Target (or just about anywhere really) for $399 bundled with some games. Keep the games for yourself. Dad will probably never notice. Instead he’ll be using the console for playing Blu-Ray discs, connecting to Hulu, Netflix, and more.
A major bonus is that when you’re visiting, you can pop a game in and frag the bejeebus out of your sad-sack siblings who didn’t have the imagination to get Dad a Playstation! If you’re really lucky, one of those siblings popped for that absurd Samsung S9 and you’re gaming on an incredible system.
Grab a six-pack of your Dad’s favorite beer and go watch a baseball game with him and let him know that you’d gladly buy him all the stuff in this article, but then you’d probably have to work weekends and couldn’t have a beer with your favorite man.