For me, Father’s Day has always been much easier to understand than Mother’s Day, perhaps because I saw my father as a role model growing up and now I have become a father myself. I also find that most fathers I know like “open-ended” gifts – ones that they can continually get enjoyment out of over time or that free up time to do other stuff. In other words, there’s an abundance of frugal gifts that work well for Father’s Day. In fact, I myself would enjoy most of these gifts for Father’s Day.
The Dangerous Book for Boys This is perhaps my top choice for a Father’s Day gift (I’ve waxed ecstatic about it in the past), simply because it is loaded to the brim with wonderful, nostalgic, and inexpensive activities that fathers and their children can do together. I almost think the titular “boys” refers to fathers more than children, actually.
Yard work Mow the yard, trim the weeds and bushes, clean up the flower bed, and so on. Do this while you’ve told your father to go out and do something fun, like playing a couple rounds of golf with his friends.
Car wash and detailing Take a few hours and focus on really making your father’s primary automobile clean, inside and out. Scrub the whole exterior, wax it, and clean out the entire interior, including spraying down all of the surface and vacuuming everywhere, including the seats and the cracks between them. It’s an awesome gift that he’ll really appreciate.
Garage clean up This is something that my brothers and I did for our father once and it was a smash hit. We basically scrubbed down the garage, turning it from a dank pit into a very nice, clean place. The key part was that we noted where every item of importance was before we started cleaning and we put many of them back in the exact place we found them, save some tools and things that had designated places, so he had no trouble finding anything.
Make Magazine This is another item I’ve been quite excited about for a while and is perfect for a father who loves to tinker with things. Much like the Dangerous book above, a lot of these projects can easily revolve around fathers and their children – the cover of issue #10 even pictures the editor and his daughter working on a project together.
Home maintenance work Similar to the yard work concept, you could do some home maintenance tasks to give your father the gift of some free time to enjoy a baseball game or something else he would enjoy. Don’t know what to do? Here’s a useful checklist of tons of ideas for regular home maintenance. Just write down all of the things that you did and present that to him – he’ll be thrilled.
Garden weeding My brothers and I did this for Father’s Day one year. We pulled a ton of weeds out of the garden, saved them in a bag, and gave him the bag of weeds as a gift. With the three of us working on it like madmen for several hours while my parents were off doing something else, we saved him many hours of work in the garden, freeing him up to do other things that he would enjoy instead of the relative tedium of weeding.
Communication Sometimes it is hard, but spending some time to really communicate how important your father is to you can be the best Father’s Day gift you can give. Don’t run to Hallmark and buy a card – spend a half an hour and try to write down on a blank card in your own words how important and wonderful your father is.