9 Practical Gifts for Dads Who are Hard to Shop For
Gifts for Dads Who are Hard to Shop For
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Here’s a situation. It’s time to buy a gift for your dad and you have no idea what to get him. How can that be? He’s your dad after all; gifts for dads should be the easiest thing ever. You ask yourself…”what are that guy’s hobbies, what is he into?”
You should know this. It’s Your DAD! You know, the guy who spend his entire adult life raising and providing for you. Yea, that guy. There’s only one problem and that’s when the realization hits.
He’s been there all your life but you don’t know anything about him. It’s not that uncommon. Dads are sometimes an enigma especially if they’re those old school dads. You know the ones, not the modern cool, hip dads who are in touch with their emotions.
No, your dad isn’t too willing to share his thoughts and difficult to read. He’s still a good dad and there for you when you need him but just not always open with his feelings and emotions. This is can be especially true if you’re an immigrant or have a parent who was born before the 1960s. It just seems to be a generational thing at times.
You list of all the things you do know about him and his likes. He grew up in Soviet Russia(or insert other random country or state that was different back in the day).
He seems to enjoy potatoes and other bland foods. He laughed, once. Dad enjoys a good stare into the distance and that one time he almost got emotional with you when he said good job when you graduated college. He likes to bike but he’s already got a bike and all the gear associated with it. You’ve already exhausted that hobby but look at how content he is on that bike. You want to find other stuff that takes him to that place. What else is there?
You think and reach a stop. He yells at the TV when his sports team is losing and watches some TV shows. Maybe a Roku but he already has that, everyone does after all. He loves mom and you but you can really gift that. It’s just not that easy to figure out what else he likes. He’s just hard to read and you don’t have that friendship where you know everything about him.
You start to think you’re a terrible son or daughter but you know sometimes, relationships with family are just like that, nothing you can do about it. Not all of us get that perfect parental experience.
There’s always that standard bottle of alcohol you could gift him but that’s so boring and bland. If only you had that picture perfect relationship with dad, you’d be all set.
Yes, some of you are lucky and have a great relationship with your dad. You share everything. You know his hobbies, you play golf together and spend afternoons talking about your dreams and worries. In that case, you might already know what to get him but even then your cool dad can still benefit from some of the gifts on this guide.
After all, no dad is the same and every dad can benefit from something new. Even those who have a great relationship with their dads may just run out of ideas after a while. There’s only so many things you can buy.
For the most part, this gifts for dads guide is for those of us with harder to read fathers. The ones with introverted or distant dads where that close knit friendship doesn’t exist. However, others can benefit from it too.
I know your position. It’s Father’s day or his birthday or an anniversary or something and you’re at a loss for what to get him. Hopefully this guide can give you some ideas to get him that perfect something to either start a new hobby or change his life for the better.
After all, our dads made our lives better and I hope these practical gifts are things that your dads can use to make their lives better too. These are not things that will be used once and forget but things that can help build habits or improve quality of life for the long run.
Here are some gifts that any of your dads will appreciate!
High Quality Socks
Yes, that’s right, socks. I said this was a practical gift guide after all. No practical gifts for dads guide would be complete without socks. If you’ve seen others without socks then they’re just no good.
I know what you’re thinking. Socks suck! Well, that’s a common misconception driven by children who didn’t enjoy getting crappy socks when they were young and wanted toys. However, now that those children are adults, socks are awesome!
I’m sure your dad, as an adult who spends a good portion of his life in said socks will feel the same way too. He’s probably tired of sweaty stinky feet and socks that tear after a few uses.
I am too and here I’m not talking about regular old boring cotton socks. I’m not even talking about those cheesy socks you can get with graphics on them. Those aren’t any good either.
What I’m talking about is the next step forward in sock technology. That’s right, sock technology, get HYPED.
I’m talking HIGH END WOOL SOCKS. I’m talking $20 a pair lifetime warranty thick as hell wool socks like the ones below by Darn Tough Socks(what a brand name!).
$20 for a pair of socks? Are you crazy?
Stick with me for a minute. These bad boys will change your dad’s sock game forever. Wool has a reputation for being itchy and warm but these guys are anything but that. They come in all sorts of styles(want wool ankle socks, you got them!) and thicknesses and bring unparalleled comfort and utility. They’re great in winter, great in the summer and great all around.
These socks are wicking which means your dad won’t sweat as much and they don’t smell that much either.
Best of all, unlike your regular cotton socks which wear out every few months, these bad boys last forever.
In the past few years, my family has replaced their standard cotton socks with wool socks across the board. It wasn’t cheap in the short run as every pair runs $20(but you can get them cheaper at times on sale) but it’ll actually make sense in the long run since I expect to keep these for the long run.
That’s because they come with a legitimate lifetime warranty. This isn’t a crappy warranty either because these socks are designed to last forever. They’re made in a mill in Vermont(I’m a big fan of supporting Made in USA goods) and if they fail, all you do is got to their website, fill out a form, send the pair back and they’ll send you a code for a free pair of socks.
I’ve had some of these socks for years now and despite being worn once a week, they all feel like the day I bought them. To test the warranty, we sent one of my wife’s pairs that started to have a tear and they sent us back a code in no time flat.
I’ve tried other brands of wool socks but Darn Tough can’t be beat. The only problem is that your dad might get addicted and start to spend too much money on socks. It’s hard to just have one as once you go wool, you can’t go back to cotton.
An eReader to Make Reading Easier AND Cheaper
If your dad is a reader and doesn’t have a Kindle yet then this is the way to go for him.
I freaking love my Kindle. It’s light, back lit(which makes it easy to read at night), crisp and easy on the eyes and gives me access to a ton of books.
On top of that, it saves space like whoa. Yes, I know, a ton of people like to collect books but if I can save money and make reading easier then why wouldn’t I do it? It’s just so much easier to read on a Kindle that I haven’t touched a physical book in years. Flipping pages, holding unwieldy 1000 page tomes, yellow pages, it’s not for me.
The best part about an eReader is that I can basically get any book for me. That’s because of Libby, which gives me access to a treasure trove that is my library’s eBook collection.
I read dozens of books a year and my wife does the same. My dad does as well and the eReader makes it easy to do all that for free. Sure, we still buy books now and then. Cooking books and books with a lot of graphics are much easier to follow in physical form.
However, the majority of our fiction and non-fiction reading is free through Libby and that has saved us thousands of dollars since we got the eReader.
Practical and frugal, the best of both worlds!
A Journal to Share his Thoughts
Listen. Your dad might not show emotion that often but that doesn’t mean he’s an emotionless being. He just keeps it bottled up inside because that’s what that older generations do sometimes. It’s like an old world thing or something, I don’t know.
However, we all know that showing emotion is healthy for you. I mean, I cry every time I watch a romantic comedy and it feels so cathartic and my dad should have the same experience too, damn it! You just can’t keep it all bottled up inside dad!
That’s why I think a journal is a perfect, practical gift for anyone.
I really like the types of journals that have prompts to guide your dad in sharing his daily thoughts.
Something like this which requires just 5 minutes of commitment a day is the perfect place to start.
I know what you’re thinking. Why would any man who’s unwilling to share his feelings in person do something like this? He’ll just think it’s silly!
It’s possible that’s the case but I think you’ll be surprised to find how emotional people can be in private. Giving them an outlet to share those emotions when they can’t do it in person can be a significant qualify of life improvement for your dad.
Best of all, it might open him up to a path of sharing those feelings beyond the journal(like in person to your face and that’d be nice).
Board Games to Play Together
You want to build a bridge and develop a relationship with the man? Well, nothing better than some board games. They can really bring the family together with some fun times. Look at this family and how super happy they are. Thanks board games!
Board games have come a long way since Monopoly and Life. Now, there’s board games that cover every interest and range from simple to massively complex.
Want a good intro to strategy games, check out Catan, a game about building and connecting settlements. Note that it does require at least 3 players so your mom or sibling might have to join.
Want a two player game that’s simple to get started? Try Codenames : Duet, a simple word deduction game or Morels, a game about collecting mushrooms!. Both easy to learn and quick to set up.
Does your dad like to travel, try Ticket to Ride Europe, a game about completing train routes across Europe.
Does he like war and battles and history and isn’t too worried about getting a bit more complicated, try Scythe, a futuristic war game set in the 1920s. Is he a horror buff, try Betrayal at House on the Hill, a 3 player+ game where all the players are trapped in a spooky home and one becomes a monster!
Want some party games that the whole family can play, check out Just One, an easy to learn word guessing game.
Some of these games do get a bit more complex so if this is your dad’s first time with anything like this, start with the simpler ones and build up.
However, even the simple ones can be a fun way to spend time together and build a new hobby that the whole family can enjoy.
Best of all, it can be a great way to bridge the gap with your pops and find a hobby you can share with him alone as well.
Cookbooks to Bring Back Memories and Try New Flavors
Everyone needs to eat and cooking together is a great way to share memories.
If your dad is like my dad, he’s used to my mom’s plain and boring cooking and doesn’t even own one cookbook.
Well, it’s time to spice up his kitchen and bring some flavors he hasn’t had in a while back into the repertoire.
Not every dad is a cook but a weekend family dinner is a perfect time to experiment.
Does your dad have any vacations he loves? Does he always talk about that summer in Hawaii? Well, Aloha to those same flavors in the comfort of your home.
This really is an easy one as there’s so many cookbooks out there. We recently got our dad this Catalan Food cookbook after our trip to Spain was cancelled this year. We might not be able to go to Spain but we can certainly try some recipes from the book and experience the type of food we would have eaten there.
The possibilities are endless and this can be a good fit for a dad that doesn’t even cook. Head over to his house with the cookbook and whip up some recipes for him(or with him as an assistant) and bring back memories of his favorite vacations or childhood or whatever.
Hell, even if your dad is a simple meat and potatoes guy, at least you can help him make the best potatoes ever.
A Nice Handmade Leather Wallet
Have you taken a look at your dad’s wallet lately?
It’s probably a real mess with a George Costanza like heft that makes it difficult to fit into his pants.
It’s time to upgrade that bad boy.
My wife got me this handmade Italian leather wallet in 2015 and it’s still looking fresh today.
Sure, it’s more expensive than those $20 faux-leather wallets but this one will last me quite a while. It’s an easy way to add some style to your dad’s wardrobe too.
A Backpack to Help Him Shoulder The Weight
Does your dad still wear a backpack? I see a lot of people walking into the office with a backpack that looks so damn bottom heavy.
It’s as if they popped a rock in there and got going. That can’t be good for that aging back my man.
Most backpacks simply don’t do a good job of evening out the weight across the entire back and that can lead to some trouble down the road.
After all, the many already carried you all his life(figuratively), you can help him carry some of his stuff too!
When looking for backpacks, look for items that can hold a lot of things, have plenty of pockets and can double as a travel backpack when needed.
I’m a big fan of the Osprey brand of backpacks especially the Nebula model for work.
It can hold a lot of items including your laptop, distributes weight equally and looks professional. It also doubles well as a hiking or travel backpack and I’m rarely without it these days if I’m out and about.
Osprey also has an excellent warranty that will mean this backpack will outlast most others and will make the higher purchase price worth it in the long run.
A Blanket to Help Him Sleep Well At Night
The best purchase I’ve made in the past five years has been a high quality woolen blanket.
The problem is that these suckers can be quite expensive. After all, if a pair of wool socks runs $20+ then a whole blanket is going to run into the hundreds. It just makes economic sense.
I’m a big fan of Pendleton blankets but also love Fairbault Mill and am a big proponent of stalking their clearance page as you can find blankets at 50% off(that’s how I got my last one).
Does it make sense to spend hundreds of dollars on a blanket? I don’t know but I know that my sleep has become ten times better since I switched from a heavy comforter to a wool blanket. These guys are warm in the winter and temperate in the summer and best of all, they don’t weigh a ton like my old bulky comforter.
Plus since it’s wool, as long as you take care of it, it’ll last you a life time. The up front cost may be worth it considering you’ll probably go through a bunch of mediocre lumpy comforters in that time span.
However, if wool is not your thing and if your dad is a light sleeper then a weighted blanket might be the ticket.
These blankets give a feeling of comfort and can help jittery sleepers get a good night for the first time in a while. They’re certainly cheaper than a wool blanket and can help those with anxiety sleep better but if I had to choose one, I’d go with a wool blanket. It’s just a real game changer when it comes to comfortable sleep.
An Extra For the Dad with a Pet in his Life
You know the drill.
You wanted a pet as a kid, your dad put up a fight but eventually you and your mom win over your grumbling dad.
He says he won’t be walking the dog and it’ll be your responsibility forever. Yada yada yada.
Flash forward to five years later and the dog is your dad’s best friend. He talks to him, cuddles him and spoils him more than anyone in your family.
It’s a tale as old as time.
Why not get him something to remember and commemorate his best friend?
It can be something detailed like a piece of art or something as simple as a sticker for his car.
He’s sure to love it as much as he loves that dog.
Wrapping It Up
Hopefully, you’ve found something here that sparked your interest. Just like with dad, there’s no one size fits all approach.
Your dad is different than mine but I think these gifts should give you some ideas for any type of dad whether you’re best friends or not.
I started this article meaning to identify gifts for dads like mine who are often a bit more distant than others(although no less fantastic) and who prefer practical gifts they can use forever over something they will use once. However, I think everyone will find something here that their dad will enjoy whether they’re shopping for a birthday or for Father’s day.
Now grab one of those gifts, wrap them up and say something like, “here you are dad, we’re playing this damn board game together and we’re gonna love it.”
Good luck and happy relationship building with the old man!
Great article! I remember last year when I was trying to figure out what to get my dad, I landed on socks. Even with socks, I spent way too much time trying to figure out what kind of socks, the design of socks…