Forget Ties and Mugs: 6 Practical Father’s Day Gifts He’ll Actually Use

father's day gifts father's day gifts

It’s that time of year when we all utter a collective “Oh sh&^. Father’s Day.” It’s often said that men are hard to shop for, because they either seem to already have everything they need (side question: what do men need?!?) or they aren’t the best at communicating what they want. Anyway, the result is that we revert to giving the same old generic, outdated Father’s Day gifts time and time again. This year, though, I’m determined to up my game, and I’m providing you with some very easy ways (thank you Amazon!) to up yours, as well.

1. What we’ve been giving: A tie, or all manner of of tie-related accessories (tie-rack, homemade tie hanger, tie slide, tie clip, tie chain, tie anything)

Straight talk: Nothing against ties, but is a neck tie really anyone’s love language? Nothing says “I couldn’t think of anything better” like a paisley tie, or even worse, an ironic tie covered in mustaches or tacos, or even worse, images of his own face.

Instead, try: James Fiallo Socks

These are really good socks, and they come in a wide variety of prints. They’re great for men who are understated but also a tiny bit flashy. When you wear these socks, you’re saying “I have a secret weapon under these pants,” and who wouldn’t want to say that??

2. What we’ve been giving: BBQ swag

Straight talk: If the dad-of-honor in your life already owns a Kiss the Chef apron, then slowly back away from the BBQ section of the store. Look, I love a BBQ as much as the next person, but buying him grilling gear is kind of the equivalent of receiving a mop and some Lysol for Mother’s Day.

Instead, try: a Yeti Cooler

This is the Mack Daddy of coolers (according to my husband, a cooler enthusiast.) It will cost you a pretty penny, but it is well worth the investment as it holds 26 cans, plenty of ice, and it stays super cold. People also love it because it’s sturdy enough that it’ll survive the zombie apocalypse. Bonus: it comes in a ton of colors, which is obviously very important.

3. What we’ve been giving: Cologne

Straight talk: Cologne is practical, yes. He will wear it, and he will smell great whilst doing so. But come on! Cologne is boring. It’s expected and too easy. Moreover, it’s what you bought for your 8th grade boyfriend’s birthday (hi, Drakkar Noir).

Instead, try: a Wise Owl Outfitters Hammock

OK, so this is one of those sneaky gifts: “just for dad” on the outside but absolutely and completely for the whole family on the inside. The kids will be thrilled. You will be thrilled. (Imagine all the books you can read in there this summer.) This hammock is made of parachute nylon and totally mobile; it can be set up in all kinds of nooks, thanks to tree straps and carabiners. Expands to up to 9 feet long, which means a few people can fit in at once. That’s snuggle-friendly.

4. What we’ve been giving: Golf balls, tennis balls, all the balls

Straight talk: So many balls, you guys. All those years of ball-giving when we were young… did our dads even play tennis, or golf, or badminton? Or were we just recklessly and aggressively gifting balls, year after year after year? I do have happy memories about giving my dad a new can of tennis balls when I was a kid and getting to open the top of the canister. But that’s neither here nor there. I think it is safe to say that dads are good on balls for a while.

Instead, try: a trunk organizer

This contraption is pretty great. You plop it right in the trunk of your car to organize groceries, luggage, or beach crap. And, of course, all of those balls from Father’s Days past.

5. What we’ve been giving: Nail-clipping kit

Look, the only tool anyone even uses in these kits is the nail-clippers; all the other pokers and whatnot are useless filler. And let’s be real here, is there anyone who doesn’t already have nail-clippers in random drawers all over the house? NO ONE IS IN NEED OF MORE NAIL-CLIPPERS. So resist the urge to buy a package of clutter – even if it does come in a smooth leatherette zipper case.

Instead, try: Victorinox Multi-Tool Pocket Knife

It’s a key chain and yet so much more. Dads love to feel handy — even if the only places they ever go on a given day are preschool dropoff and the office — and this will make him feel extra, extra handy in a James Bond sort of way.

6. What we’ve been giving: A novelty mug (or beer stein)

Straight talk: Adorning a cup with photos or a funny catchphrase may seem like a timeless gift for dad, but after a certain point he’s probably acquired like a dozen and where does it stop? What would Marie Kondo say?! I propose that we leave the crafty, DIY gifts to the kids.

Instead, try: Hydroflask

Not only is this gift practical, but it says “I care about your hydration.” This is the best water bottle because it keeps your water cold all day long, has a satisfying grip, no condensation, and it’s handsome (like your husband).

However you decide to celebrate the dads in your life this year, it’s truly the thought that counts most. You don’t have to break the bank to show him you care. No matter what gift you land on, be sure to give him a heartfelt ‘thank you’, write a meaningful card, let him sleep in, bring him breakfast in bed, or just give him a day free from obligation. Dads, much like moms, just want to feel appreciated. (And… maybe get a little break from you and the kids.) (Just a tiny one.)

Emily is a freelance writer and photographer living in Southern California with her husband and two daughters. Her writing has been featured in Babble, Scary Mommy and Today Parents, among other places. Emily is fueled by spontaneous dance parties, '80s music and coffee. Connect with her on Instagram or on her website or on Twitter.