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Get ready to stoke your charcoal grill, don your cargo shorts, and practice your best pun-based jokes. Father’s Day is officially almost here, and it’s time to give the dads in our lives a token of appreciation for all they do.
But getting a gift for your dad can sometimes be a challenge—after all, he might not be the stereotypical cargo-shorts-and-grill type, or his closet is already fully stocked with neckties from past holidays. Here’s what not to buy for Father’s Day this year, and what you should gift instead.
1. A #1 Dad mug
Of course you think your father is the best one out there! The problem, of course, is that this is a sentiment better expressed with words and actions than (yet another) proclamatory mug.
Instead, get him a coffee-or-tea container that’s much more useful: a Zojirushi, Reviewed’s top travel mug pick, which can keep beverages steaming hot for at least eight hours. This way, dad can bring a piping hot drink with him everywhere he goes—and, if you really want to get the “World’s Best Dad” message across, go ahead and slap a sticker on it.
2. A necktie
There’s nothing wrong with a tie, of course. But if your dad needs to wear one regularly, he probably has plenty—and even the perfect one may not register as a gift so much as a reminder that he has to go to work the next day. On the other hand, maybe your dad needs to wear a tie so rarely that your gift of one, no matter how carefully curated to his style and interests, will be bound to gather dust in the back of his closet.
If you’re feeling sartorially inclined, think of going slightly outside the box—the shoe box, that is. Consider a new pair of kicks from Wolf and Son, a Portuguese brand of casual chic footwear for men and boys that Reviewed’s parenting editor Anna Lane is currently “obsessing” over. “My husband likes skinny jeans and dressing as though he’s still a youngish, Brooklyn hipster instead of an aging LA dad,” she says. “So these are perfect for him—and our son who is, in fact, a young LA hipster.”
3. A corny gag gift
Maybe it’s a “dehydrated water” can, or a t-shirt with a dancing fatherly unicorn on it, or golf balls festooned with emojis. And maybe your dad really wants those things. But if he actually doesn’t, well, your gift will probably get an awkward chuckle upon unwrapping, then be firmly relegated, forever, to the depths of a drawer.
As an alternative, try to get him something that still reads as potty humor but is actually useful: a motion-sensor toilet night light—no, really. One Amazon reviewer wrote that she originally purchased a night light for her five-year-old niece, but later got one for the five-year-old’s dad, who had started traversing the house to use the toilet with the night light “just to enjoy the rainbow light show.” Why shouldn’t your dad get to enjoy the same thing?
4. A drugstore razor
Shaving supplies are a pretty common dad gift, whether yours rocks a baby face or prefers to clean up his beard around the edges. But peeling off a CVS price sticker fools no one if the razor you give him is made entirely of plastic.
Upgrade dad's shaving game with a safety razor, like the Merkur 23C, which is a favorite of Reviewed's senior staff writer Mark Brezinski. "A straight razor or a moderately sharp battle axe would give a better shave than [insert drugstore brand here]" he says. And, over time, your dad will get a smoother shave for a lot less, as blade refills are significantly cheaper than any plastic refill blade he can buy. "They're like a dime a piece, so you don't feel like you have to get your money's worth by using them until they're totally dulled," Mark says.
5. A fill-in-the-blank book
A novelty book, in which you fill out a template to demonstrate how much you love your dad, is often given with the best of intentions—but if you’re older than, say, 12, it won’t be as cute as it once could have been. Video editor Melissa Rorech puts it best: “They're so lame, cliche, and cheap, so they're the go-to for someone who didn't want to put much thought into a gift but wanted to seem like they're very sentimental.”
Instead, get your dad a picture frame and fill it with a smiling family photo, or any other image that represents a great shared memory—now that digital photos seldom make it off a screen, he’ll appreciate the effort and thought. You can also pair the frame with our favorite portable photo printer, the Prynt Pocket, so he can fill it with any image he likes.
6. Grilling supplies
If your dad loves to barbecue, he most likely has all the things he wants or needs to whip up a perfectly cross-hatched steak. Still, if you’re confident he’d appreciate additions to his arsenal, any of Reviewed’s tried-and-true grilling faves, like the OXO tongs and spatula, ThermoWorks ChefAlarm, or a fresh supply of Royal Oak Hardwood Lump Charcoal are sure to please.
Otherwise, play it safe and get him a grilling-adjacent gift, like a really great cooler. The Rubbermaid 10-Quart model is a classic for a reason, with long-lasting thermal retention, an easy-to-clean interior, and a lid that actually stays put. He can keep meat food-safe before the hungry masses arrive and have cold beverages at the ready all day when hanging out on the deck, grilling with all the supplies people have gotten him in previous years.
7. Whiskey stones
Whiskey stones—those reusable ice cube-shaped blocks that you chill and stick into a drink to keep it cool without the beverage-diluting ice melt—are something that tend to pop up on nearly every male-focused gift guide. But unless you’re completely, 100 percent sure they’re something your dad will use, it’s probably best to skip. “I got my dad some one year and I don't think he used them once,” Reviewed’s e-commerce senior writer Courtney Campbell says. “It seemed like a good idea at the time, but I guess he prefers ice.”
If your dad’s like Courtney’s, get him an ice tray that molds cubes into specific shapes. You can get one that makes ice ideal for whiskey—and will make Dad feel like he’s in an extra-fancy speakeasy whenever he makes a cocktail with them—like spheres or large cubes, or if he’s not an ice-and-liquor purist, a more whimsical shape, like penguins.
8. A wallet
At first glance, a wallet bears all the qualities of a really great gift: It has a clear function, fits easily into anyone’s personal style, and is pretty much universally applicable. But the ubiquitous necessity of wallets also makes them less than ideal as a present, because most people already have one, or know precisely what they like when they get a new one. Besides, even if your dad wants a new wallet, he may not necessarily need (or use) the one you pick out.
“I switched to a front pocket wallet awhile back and it's life-changing for me, but if I got one for my dad, it would absolutely never get used,” says T.J. Donegan, Reviewed’s executive editor. “He is a Costanza wallet lifer.”
Instead, get him—wait for it—some nice socks. Not the most exciting gift, sure, but the right pair can make a big difference. We like Bombas, a Shark Tank-born sock brand that offers unparalleled comfort and support in one stylish no-show package. You can give your dad’s sock drawer a much-needed upgrade and (maybe) convince him to finally throw out the tube socks he’s had since before he had kids.
9. A potentially critical fitness-focused gift
While your best intention might be to encourage dad to be active, an exercise-related present like a gym membership or a smart scale could come across as a criticism of his dad bod.
Instead, get your active (or active-wannabe) dad a pair of cool-yet-sporty sunglasses from Goodr—they're extremely popular with runners for staying put with no bouncing or sliding even on a sweaty face, but they look just as slick worn for a stroll down the street.
10. A surprise party
Were you going to throw your dad a surprise party? We don’t know. But, if you were thinking about it, maybe don’t do that: Many dads we know strongly desire a “bit of peace and quiet.” And, while a moment of silence is a difficult gift to give, he could briefly escape the din of family life with some noise-canceling headphones, or a set of great earplugs.
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