Thursday, June 14, 2012

What Do You Get The Man Who Wants Nothing?

Oh my deary goodness, it's so close that I can the sour disappointment of Dads across the nation opening that tiny flat box that they know is going to have yet another tie, sadly waiting for a new neck to call home.

You may have read on Mother's Day, my plea of sorts saying that while you certainly should take time to remember all the wonderful Moms out there on their special day, you must not forget that plenty of Dads are now very much ingrained in the lifestyle that historically is the very reason we place so much emphasis on Mother's Day. Therefore, celebrate Mom, but please don't forget to actually celebrate Dad.

I felt it would be really unfair for me to make a big deal about "don't forget Dad" and then leave it at that. Obviously I should be kind enough to follow up a statement like, "Don't buy me a tie. Ever. I will deep fry all your shoes," with some suggestions to alternative gift ideas.

Now, from what I've seen out there in interweb land, every Mom/Dad blog has given their own list of ideas on gifts that get away from the mundane. I hope I can add my own little unique twist, with a little outside the box thinking. I should also add that this is a list totally from my head. I hope that these would be great gifts for any Dad, but they may tip the scale slightly to the Stay-at-Home-Dad side of things, or perhaps just my personal taste. However, my actual personal taste is most often very spendy. I generally don't want anything, but when I do, it's something big. So I've set the personal goal for this list to try and keep the price down for most of these.

Enjoy these 10 ideas for Dad:

1. A Pillow - Kinda weak start? Don't be so sure. When Melissa and I got married we had been living together for a while (Ohhh! Sinners!). So when it came time to register for wedding gifts there wasn't much in the way of necessities that we really needed. So we went random! Our registry included things like outdoor solar-powered garden lights, his and her electric scooters (which NO ONE BOUGHT US!), and yes...really awesome pillows. We got one, which went to Melissa because I'm sugary-sweet. It's super soft and comfortable, and when she leaves for work in the morning the first thing I do is grab that bad boy and go back to sleep. That was almost 8 years ago! Do you understand how amazing pillows are now? For me, sleep is such a precious thing, and I want it to be perfect every single time. So if I can sleep on a very comfortable mattress and pillow, and have nice, soft sheets, that's a big deal! Examples! Yeah, yeah, an infomercial product, but intriguing nonetheless! 60-day money-back guarantee, with a 10 year warranty for $30? Worth a shot I'd say. For you big spenders there's the folks at Tempur-Pedic: These all get dangerously close to the $100 range (which seems like a lot for a pillow). However, the reviews simply can't be ignored. It's going to be comfortable to most people and with a design for all types of sleeping styles, you can pick the one that fits you and ensure those good nights of sleep. Of course there are lots of great pillows, at a variety of prices, with everything from down to microfoam beads inside. Test them, find a comfortable one but don't sacrifice comfort for price. Letting Dad rest with an extra bit of comfort will be great for everyone's mood.

2. Headphones - Again this might seem odd, but if done right these are quite the handy thing for Dad. I'm going on the assumption that Dad already has an iPod or something along those lines, if he doesn't, there's your gift. However, the headphones that come with all these devices are amazingly uncomfortable. Now again, get what works from a comfort/practical standpoint.;jsessionid=46C32A72D011CCF7B7D8EB79F7D9B229.bbolsp-app03-46?id=1218401499291&skuId=3425097 Those are a great set of earbuds with interchangeable sizes for the best fit. Great for the Dad who rides a motorcycle and wants some helmet music or even just for mowing the lawn since it's very small, lightweight and yet cancels out a decent amount of background noise. Speaking of background noise, a good set of noise-cancelling headphones are a great way to give Dad some time to tune out the world and check the latest hulu/netflix shows or just listen to some good tunes while taking a little mental break. A great way to go about it is start with Bose and work your way down into your price range.

3. Shoes - Yes indeed! For the Dad on the go, a good set of shoes that are comfortable all day are an absolute must. My personal idea on this would be along the lines of something breathable, lightweight, and lots of support. For several years now I've been sporting the Nike Shox made famous in the early seasons of House, and I would not make it through the day in less of a shoe. Note: Shoes not slippers (certainly a popular Father's Day gift). I find that slippers are great if you're going to sit around doing nothing, but seriously, how often does that really happen? Trying to doing anything remotely active in slippers seems to lead to a great deal of sliding around and/or falling. If I wanted to get the sensation of water skiing, I would go water skiing.

4. Coupon Books - "Huh? Like those ones you have to buy from kids for $10?" Nope! Here's your chance to be a little crafty and a little creative. Homemade coupon books are actually quite popular. This can go anywhere from totally practical to very naughty. A great way to approach this is to go for what you're absolutely willing to commit to. Ideas outside the obvious intimate cash-ins: Give Dad permission to buy an item, guilt-free, up to a certain dollar amount. Lots of guys have trouble buying that selfish item without a quick consult, this actually puts the power in his hands. Have coupons for "free time" in various amounts. Give Dad that chance to go do whatever he wants for a few minutes, without interruption. Be creative and as long as you lay some ground rules as to when they can be used (which really should be any time at all) you'll find this is a fun way to give Dad lots of little things that really add up to a great gift. Very simple to make, here's a little example of how:

5. A Smartphone - In February, Melissa and I's cell phones died at the same time while we were on our trip to Florida. We have Sprint service, and they offer an upgrade plan every two years. Basically you get pretty amazing deals on a new phone, right down to free if you're willing to get something on the lower end. When talking with the salesperson, it became very clear that the market was all heading to smartphones, something we really didn't think we wanted or needed. All the same we ended up getting iPhones. Four months later I can honestly say it's something that, particularly as an at-home-Dad, you need. So often you are stuck watching Cars 2 again. To be able to ignore the 15,000th viewing and have the world at your fingers, all while staying in the room with the kids, is an amazing thing. Find one that you like, and get it. I would caution against the obvious obsession capabilities, but overall, it's a great thing to have. Just get your head up out of the screen from time to time.

6. Lawn/Garden Service - I understand that in this day and age, women are perfectly able to mow the lawn, but at my house that job is mine. I actually enjoy it most of the time. There are certainly times that getting outside is just a problem, and I end up annoyed by the whole process. So, get Dad a week (or more) off from lawn duty. You can go as big or small with this as you want. Have a bad flower bed that he keeps "meaning to get to"? Hire someone! Believe me, he will not take it personal, and if he does then he doesn't realize he's been given the gift of time. A most precious gift. Want to go smaller? Look for someone in your area that has a lawn service. Go up to the service guys and see if they'd stop by your place afterward. You'll be surprised at how cheap they'll be willing to agree to swing by when they're already right there. $20 can go a long way toward some extra relaxation.

7. A Camera - I've mentioned before that William dismantled our camera and the pictures haven't been the same since. In this day and age with photoshop and seemingly endless people who are "photographers" because they bought an expensive camera, having high quality photos of your kids around is almost expected. The days of running down to Sears to have some portraits done is a thing of the past. Now you're expected to have retouched photos of the whole family wearing suits and fancy dresses, laughing casually while you dine with Seth MacFarlane who is about to sing his rendition of "Singin' in the Rain" as Kermit the Frog. The big problem here is cost (and I know I said I would try to keep my suggestions to a reasonable area) as most decent digital cameras will cost you several hundred dollars. Keep an eye out for places like Fred Meyer or better yet, online retailers like who will have amazing deals from time to time. The point is, Dad may stay current with photos of the kids if he's using a camera he really loves.

8. A Distraction - This can be tricky depending on the personality of the Dad in your life. One new golf club. A game for the computer/game console/smartphone. Something that he can spend a little time with and have fun with every so often. Lots of popular Father's Day gifts like getting steak for dinner or a bad tie, are single use items. Find something that Dad can use lots of times throughout several years. Give Dad the gift and turn him loose.

9. Tickets - Sporting event, movies, musical, bus...whatever it may be. Want to go the extra mile? Set up a man-date with a friend and let them go to hit town. I can't tell you how refreshing it is to go off and see a hockey game or a movie that is not animated. It is just rejuvenating. It's amazing to see the transformation from "I can't wait to get out of the house" to "I can't wait to go home and hug the boys." It only takes a few hours. Believe me, lots of times the kids need Dad to take a break too.

10. Nothing - The gift of nothing can be a wonderful gift. A time to simply have the "day off" from the kids. Everyone says that on Mother's/Father's Day that should be a bit of a given, but I really don't see that happen in real life. Eventually Mom/Dad asks for one small thing...then another...and so on. Keep Dad off things like diaper duty, feedings, and clean up. This is a gift that allows Dad to just spend time with his family without that need to drop everything when there's an odd smell in the air. Spend time as a family with no pressure on him. I know I would personally love more time with my boys that didn't require a hand washing afterwards. The truth is, we Dads really do want more quality time with the whole family. The problem for us in the at-home crowd is we fight constantly for the quality while being overloaded with quantity. It's a tough thing to balance. Please note, not every Dad is going to see a "day off" as a "gift." Use your judgement. Many people, not just Dads, find that as they get order they feel less and less inclined to celebrate the more "manufactured" holidays. Personally I don't remember the last time I made a big fuss over my birthday. There are people who see things they want and just go get them, so a gift of some "thing" is relatively pointless. It's true that in some cases, less is more, and nothing is about as "less" as you can get.

There you have it, hopefully this gets you thinking outside the box a little.

A very Happy Father's Day to all the Dads out there.

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