10 Father’s Day Gift Ideas Besides Soap-on-a-Rope

Fatherhood is pretending the present you love most is “soap-on-a-rope”.

– Bill Cosby

Father’s Day in 2013 is on Sunday, June 16. Are you ready?

Or are you one of those people who waits until the last second and then rushes to the drugstore to see what’s left on the Father’s Day gift isle; a handful of ugly ties and bad cologne scattered across empty, post-apocalyptic looking store shelves. I’m not judging. We’ve all been there. Well, I have.

Soap-on-a-RopeNow I’m not saying Dad won’t tell you he loves that neon pink “Worlds Best Father” polyester neck tie; the one with the label sewn in that reads, “Don’t wear near open flame.” Your procrastination aside, whose fault is this REALLY? Do any of you have a dad who’s hard to buy for? Actually, I’m that guy. When my wife asks me what I want for Father’s Day or my birthday, I rarely have an answer. Does your hubby or dad do that? Would you rather have him provide a few clues as to what he might enjoy?

In case dad doesn’t drop hints here are a few Father’s Day gift ideas:

  1. Slippers – Yes, it’s an old standby, but likely to get more use than an ugly tie or soap on a rope. I’m not going to recommend specific sources or makers for any of these gift ideas. They are easy enough to find on Google. I would however recommend you consider ordering a quality leather pair online versus those found on spinning racks in big box stores. Get him some with a good nonslip sole for trips to the mailbox or grill, and if you live someplace cold, add a real shearling lining.
  2. Watch – So few people wear watches any more. Instead we pull out cellphones to tell the time. I’m here to suggest a nice watch is still a great present. To be clear, I don’t mean some trendy piece of over-sized bling, but something classy… like your dad. For work or dress, a clean, simple, modestly sized watch with a leather band is perfect. For sport wear, go crazy with all the bells and whistles if you must. Hey, you never know when dad might find himself on the North Face of Everest… or the gym. Yeah, probably about equally likely?
  3. Baseball Mitt – I’ll bet there was a perfect baseball glove someplace in your dad’s past that fit his hand, well, like a glove. It was broken in to perfection and made it almost impossible to drop a ball. If he still has that baseball mitt, then move on to another suggestion. No new glove can replace it. If he doesn’t have one, consider buying him a quality (though don’t break the bank, as they can get pricey) glove for dad. If nothing else, he’ll love the smell of it, and the memories it brings back. I’d say throw in some saddle soap to use to break in the glove, but I for one swear by my dad’s Barbasol shaving cream. Don’t laugh, it works.
  4. Wallet – Yep, it’s another traditional choice, but one upon which you can apply a modern twist. Many dads stuff their back pocket with a wallet the size of a paperback copy of War and Peace. If he’s not already getting back aches he will soon. Does he really need to carry every receipt and business card he’s ever been given in there. Dad, clear that thing out or carry a purse! As a replacement, get dad a nice slim, bi-fold wallet made of quality leather. Or get him a wallet with no fold at all, one with a money-clip on one side for bills. He and his back will thank you.
  5. Dopp Kit – Don’t know what that is? It’s a small toilet bag, best made of leather, used for storing mens grooming tools for travel. It came into popularity during World War II when they were issued to our GIs. I remember my dad’s clearly… I can still smell the wonderful mix of leather, deodorant, shaving cream and cologne it gave off. I believe the English call them “sponge bags”? Giving one to a teenage boy was a right of passage once. If the dad in your life wasn’t given one, there’s no time like the present. You’ll notice, as with almost all of my recommendations, I’m suggesting leather.
  6. Shirt – Not just any shirt, but if you are the spouse, it should be a shirt you think he’d look sexy in. Personally I love a gift like this, as I rarely invest in anything “fashionable” for myself, and probably wouldn’t know what’s in style if I did. Guys tend to be rather function oriented… if one cargo pocket is good then four are great!? Besides buying the father of your child something you think would make him look even sexier is a win-win for you both. Keep it reasonably classic looking, nothing too wild. Just be sure to tell him when he opens it that you saw this at the store and just had to buy it because you knew how irresistible he’d be in it. Write that down. Trust me.
  7. Sunglasses – If he wears sunglasses he buys off a rack at the local gas station or grocery store, perhaps it’s time you help him upgrade his eye-wear. If he wears contacts or has good vision, then a quality pair of non-prescription glasses (okay, I’m going to break my “no brands” rule only to give an example) like a pair of Ray Bans, e.g. classic Wayfarers or Aviators. And if he wears prescription glasses, sneak a copy of his prescription. There are plenty of low cost providers of prescription glasses on the internet now. Order a pair in his prescription and add sunglass tinting. Whatever you buy him, be sure they provide 100% UV protection and are polarized if possible.
  8. Pocket Knife – Does your dad carry a small knife that helps him MacGyver his way out of any situation? He should. If you buy him a knife, keep it slim and classy. It’s shouldn’t leave a big bulge in your dad’s pants. [Can’t wait to see what sort of traffic Google is going to give me for that last sentence, but I digress.] No man is fully dressed without a pocket knife, though leave it at home if you’re heading to the airport. It doesn’t need a hundred functions. One or two blades would be fine. If you must add a few more bells and whistles, a flat blade and a phillips head screw-driver would be nice, and you might as well add a bottle opener and corkscrew while your at it.
  9. Headphones – Those little white things you stuff in your ears may do in a pinch, but if dad really wants to relax with some tunes, consider a quality set of headphones. If he flies a lot or works in a noisy office, a pair with active noise cancellation can provide some much needed peace and quiet, even if he’s not listening to music. There are a lot of choices out there, so I’d read some reviews before deciding. They don’t need to be the latest trendy set. Find a quality pair, with sufficient padding for comfort and sound isolation. In keeping with half of my suggestions, if they are made from glove soft leather, so much the better. There’s something manly about leather dad will enjoy.
  10. Hand-made Gift – I would be remiss if I did not add that one need not spend any money to make a Father’s Day Special. None of the gift ideas I mention above could compete for my love with the hand-painted (by my 4 year old daughter) pink lady bug paperweight featured prominently on my desk as I type. As for wife’s and others seeking the perfect gift for the dad in your life, let me ask you: What is his favorite meal and favorite beverage. A nice big plate of comfort food, and the company of those most important to him, is a gift of time and love that none of those above could hope to match.

So guys, do your family a favor this year. Drop a few hints! Your family will thank you, and you’ll have one less bottle of bad cologne or soap on a rope cluttering your bathroom. Whatever your plans for Father’s Day, I wish you and all the dads out there a very safe and happy day!

[important]What did I leave off this list?[/important]


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  1. You left off remote controlled fart machine. Mine broke. Seriously, great list and not a tie in sight!

    1. LOL. What father’s day would be complete with one of those beauties (batteries not included). Thanks for the kind words, Justin.

  2. Great list. I never knew the dopp kit was named as such. My dad has one too and I love that its a clean hidden thing and not all fancified like mine and my moms 🙂

    1. Thanks, D. You should ask your dad if that’s what they called them in the Marines. My dad was a Navy man (and his dad WWII Army), so I’m not sure if it’s service specific. Anyway, that’s what I’ve always called it. My dad’s was something like this, but very broken in.

    • Filomena Perreault on at
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