Father’s Day Gifts: For the Best Dad Ever

Strangely, as curmudgeonly as I have been known to feel about Mother’s Day, I always look forward to Father’s Day. One reason for this is the timing: the third weekend in June has it all over the middle of May in terms of being a nice, relaxing spot on the calendar.

Chambanamoms Father's Day

Credit: Flickr, jmettraux

Another reason is that buying gifts for Father’s Day is easy. Generally speaking, guys don’t mind getting the same thing every year, and to them grand gestures read the same as small ones: a nice card stuffed with a few instant lotto tickets is all it usually takes to show any of the men in my life that they are loved and appreciated.

But that is a generalization. Maybe some of the dads in your life enjoy the extra creativity you put into selecting gifts, or maybe the person you’re honoring on Father’s Day isn’t technically a dad. Or, maybe you just feel like this is the year to spoil dad silly.

No matter which shopping boat your family is in this Father’s Day, here are a few creative gift ideas to help you think outside the (tie) box.

No cost/low cost gifts

  • A homemade card or picture frame: Whenever I get a chance to glimpse my husband’s work desk, I’m surprised — and touched — to see what he’s ferreted away from home with which to decorate it. It’s nice to be reminded of how much we really mean to him. A homemade card or framed family snapshot should be enough to bring a huge smile to many dads’ faces. Between now and Father’s Day, Michael’s has a few make-it-take-it Father’s Day gift sessions; some are free, some aren’t.
  • A train ride/trip to the waterpark: The Monticello Railway Museum is offering free rides for dads on Father’s Day weekend (they must be accompanied by a paying child). Or, take the family to Sholem Aquatic Center on Saturday on the 17th for their Father’s Day Festivities. Again, Dad gets in free.
  • Time to himself: Need I say more?

Eco friendly gifts

  • For the yard: The dad who watches the water bill like a hawk should love a rain barrel; Prarie Gardens has a good selection of them. Or, consider this sturdy, fair trade yard tote made out of recycled tires. It’s available at one of my beloved employers: Ten Thousand Villages in Champaign.
  • Books, cookware, vintage vinyl, and much, much more: I love shopping resale for these types of gifts, and our local resale stores, such as ReStore, Goodwill, and the Salvation Army Thrift Store, have great selections.
  • A locally-grown, homemade meal: Part of my husband’s Father’s Day gift will be smoked pork shoulder (I have a nice 7-pound roast in my freezer, courtesy of Triple S Farms) and this method for using a grill as a smoker (courtesy of The Food Network and Bobby Flay). You can find Triple S Farms — and many other awesome, local vendors— at the Market at the Square this Saturday.

The gift of an experience

  • Father/son basketball camp: This overnight-optional camp for fathers and sons aged 8-13 is held at Wesleyan University in Bloomington on July 16-17.
  • Take Dad out to the ballgame: The Cubs (drawn-out, weary sigh) and the Cardinals will both be in town this weekend, but how about a trip to nearby Danville or Peoria to see some great minor league ball? The Danville Dans play on Saturday, and the Peoria Chiefs have both Saturday and Sunday games.
  • Go watch the ponies: Arlington Park opened for the season on June 8. Racing is a great family event: you can pack a nice lunch, there’s plenty of lawn for the kids to play on, and everyone enjoys cheering the horses on. Even better, their Father’s Day events feature a petting zoo, pony rides, and a kids’ spa, and promise to make the day extra special for everyone.

Got some great ideas for unique Father’s Day gifts? (We bet you do!) Share them in the comments.

Rachael McMillan just took part-time job number 5,482: teaching sixth- and seventh-grade history at Campus Middle School for girls. She also tutors at The Reading Group and serves as the education coordinator for Ten Thousand Villages, a fair trade retailer in downtown Champaign. She is totally in love with her Chambana life, which she shares with husband Scott, kindergartner Kate and first-grader Jack.

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