Whether you call him “Pops,” “Dad” or “Papa,” don’t forget to get him something special this Father’s Day (Sunday, June 21).
From father-friendly activities and thoughtful ways to spend time together, to fun and personalized gifts, these 20 ideas will make him feel special and won’t break the bank. And, if money’s really tight or you’re eyeing a larger splurge, consider joining forces with siblings to pitch in on a great gift.
1. Go Camping
It’s summertime and, for many dads, that means it’s time to head into the great outdoors and enjoy some quality time. Grab your tents and sleeping bags, fill the cooler with snacks and head to the woods.
Many campsites are free, while some cost up to $35 or so. Look into local Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service campsites, which are usually on the less-expensive end, and use these tips to save even more on your trip.
2. Watch the U.S. Open
If your dad’s a golf fan, spend Father’s Day with him watching the final day of the 115th U.S. Open championship in Chambers Bay, Washington. Find the event on your TV or head out to a local sports bar or hangout to enjoy it.
3. Explore a National Park
With 407 different areas in the U.S. National Park system, you can probably find one that’s not too far away. Bring dad out for a day hiking in nature or driving around admiring the scenery and scoping out the local wildlife.
A seven-day pass is normally $10-25, depending on the park. Or, consider opting for an annual one-park or all-park pass so you and your dad can return all year long ($80 for one year for all parks, individual park annual passes vary in price). Military members and their dependents are eligible for a free pass, seniors aged 62 and older can qualify for a $10 lifetime pass and the free Access pass is available for those with permanent disabilities.
4. Tackle a Chore
Consider giving the gift of service and completing dad’s most hated household task this Father’s Day weekend. If your dad’s garage is in need of a serious scrub-down or his gutters are crammed with debris, grab a steel brush and a ladder and tackle these dreaded chores so your pops doesn’t have to.
5. Go to a Minor League Ballgame
While big name teams charge top dollar for their tickets, Minor League Baseball games are often a great deal. For just a few dollars, you can purchase admission for yourself and your dad to watch your hometown team battle it out with one of their minor league rivals. And you’ll still have money left over for hot dogs and Crackerjack.
6. Watch a Major League Baseball Game
If your dad’s favorite team is a major league one, find a favorite hangout (which could be your couch) and enjoy the action with him — this Father’s Day, 30 teams will be playing. Fire up the grill and make some burgers, pop some corn, grab some peanuts and settle in to watch the game.
7. Give Him Grilling Tools
An avid griller needs high-quality tools to work his magic. If your dad’s the master of the BBQ, consider getting him a nice grilling kit, like this 14-piece stainless steel option (which includes tongs, a massive spatula with a built-in bottle opener, basting brush and even corn holders) or this 18-piece kit with wooden handles.
8. Find His Favorite Beer
If your dad’s a craft beer connoisseur or a Bud Light kind of guy, consider surprising him with some of his favorite brews for Father’s Day. Grab a six-pack, fill up a growler at your local brewpub or grab a mini-keg for less than $25.
9. Mow His Lawn for a Month
Why not free your dad of the weekly burden of lawn mowing for a whole month? Let him put his feet up and relax for the next few weekends as you push the mower around and keep everything nice and tidy.
10. Wrap Up Some Collegiate Gear
Does your dad have a favorite college? Maybe his alma mater, a local college team he likes to root for, or your school? If so, consider giving him a logo hat, T-shirt, sweatshirt or pint glass so he can show his team spirit all around town.
“For years, my sister and I gave my dad gear from our schools,” says editor Heather van der Hoop. “Now he has hats, rugby jerseys and T-shirts from my college, my sister’s college and her grad school. He loves that they’re fun conversation starters!”
11. Go Fishing
Spend Father’s Day out on the river or lake with your dad. Pick up some bait, grab the poles and get your fishing license for a day of quality dad-and-daughter (or son) time. In Texas, a one-day all-water fishing license is only $11 for residents and $16 for non-residents, while California lets residents and non-residents alike pay just over $15 for a day of fishing. Be sure to comply with all local rules and regulations.
12. Ride Your Bikes
Re-live your childhood by hopping on bikes together and heading out for a ride through the local park or to a favorite spot. Enjoy some exercise and fresh air, and bring some PB&Js to have as a snack. Or, pack something a little nicer and enjoy a picnic at your destination.
13. Take a Class
If your dad’s always wanted to learn how to paint watercolors or play the guitar, take him to a class to learn all about his long-deferred dream. See whether local community centers offer the types of classes he would enjoy, from birding to glass-blowing to cabinet-making. If you can join him and learn together, all the better.
14. Offer “Dad’s Ice Cream Plow”
What ice-cream-loving dad wouldn’t like a shovel-like spoon engraved with “Dad’s Ice Cream Plow”? This hand-stamped spoon is available on Etsy for only $14. If your dad’s an ice cream kind of guy, grab him this spoon and a couple pints of his favorite flavors and go to town.
15. Throw a Party
Who doesn’t love a party in their honor? Host a potluck with all your dad’s friends and your family members and spend the day together. Make sure to cook some of his favorite dishes and then stuff yourselves silly and have a great afternoon catching up and swapping stories and memories.
16. Create Painted Memories
Find a favorite family photo (or even just a photo of your younger, even-more-studly dad), and find an artist to capture that photo in a painting. To find an artist up for the task, check Craigslist or Etsy or even a local art school to see if you can find a student willing to freeze this family moment in time for a reasonable price.
17. Offer Tech Support
If your dad doesn’t know a gigabyte from a groundhog, why not spend a few hours on Father’s Day weekend helping him clean up his computer? Make sure his software has needed updates, help him back up his data and get everything running smoothly.
18. Give Him a Personalized Garage Sign
This personalized garage sign can let everyone know it’s Bill’s garage (or Frank’s or Mario’s… or whatever your dad’s name is). This aluminum plaque can go outdoors or indoors, anywhere dad spends his time, and only costs $42.99.
19. Keep His Drink Chilled
Pair this ice-ball maker with a specially made glass perfect for rolling a sphere of ice, and your dad will be all set to enjoy his favorite scotch or drink of choice. Ice balls are especially efficient at cooling drinks evenly and keeping melting to a minimum (who wants a watered-down drink?).
20. Give the Gift of Warm Feet
Even in summer, who doesn’t love a good pair of slippers? Grab dad a favorite pair for protecting his feet walking around the house or for braving the splinters out on the deck while grilling.
Your Turn: What are you planning to give your dad this weekend?
Disclosure: We have a serious Taco Bell addiction around here. The affiliate links in this post help us order off the dollar menu. Thanks for your support!
Kristen Pope is a freelance writer and editor in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.