Skip the Necktie. Try These Simple DIY Father’s Day Gifts

Watch this video to see how to make three of the DIY Father’s Day gifts listed in the story. Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

More stores are open and online shopping is still going strong, but that doesn’t mean you need to spend a lot on a Father’s Day gift. Maybe Dad isn’t quite as sentimental as Mom, but he appreciates offspring who spend carefully and give creatively.

Here are five suggestions for DIY Father’s Day gifts that will score big but cost little or nothing.

Personalized Picnic

This picnic is more about the serving pieces than the food. Buy a pack of white, sturdy plates at the grocery store and a set of colored markers. Younger kids can draw pictures on each plate of their signature rainbow, unicorn, space creature, car or anything they want.

A photograph of a paper plate shows handwritten notes to dad.
Write personalized notes to dad on inexpensive paper plates. Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

Older kids, from 6 to 60, can write on the plates sharing their thoughts about Dad — a sentence or two or a list. (Younger kids, as well, can dictate to an older sibling, or Mom.) Here are some ideas:

  • A lesson dad taught me
  • A list of books he read to me
  • A list of his favorite songs
  • Movies we saw together
  • A good moment from a vacation
  • A time when he was really there for me

Depending on the number of children and amount of content to share, cups and dessert plates can also be illustrated or serve as the canvas for funny and touching words. Wrap them all in a box with plastic utensils, napkins and the location and menu for your picnic. With a picnic this special, the food and location are secondary, so the backyard or kitchen floor are just fine.

The Daily Dad

You can use the same content ideas from the personalized picnic to create a newspaper about the father in your life. Try names such as The Dad Street Journal, The New Dad Times, The Old Dad Times, The Daily Dad, etc.

Tape photos and stories written and printed from a computer onto an actual newspaper front page or use a newsletter template on Mac Pages or Google Docs to make your own.

If you don’t subscribe to a newspaper, buy one from a newsrack around town. Many cities have free arts newspapers in newspaper boxes or coffee shops.

If you need to print photos, Walgreens and CVS have apps that let you print photos from your phone that can be mailed to you or picked up at the store within an hour. You can also draw your own photos to go with the time Dad unknowingly dressed you in your pajamas for school or your favorite scene from binge-watching Sponge Bob with him.

Dad Rocks

Buy a plastic tool box, tackle box or watering can from a home improvement store for around $10. Get some super glue too. Then find five little rocks in a park or your yard and glue them on the watering can or box. In bright letters write “My Dad Rocks.”

Make gift certificates for an hour of help with yardwork, home repairs or fishing tips, then put them inside the container.

A photograph shows the personalized note
In addition to the “Dad Rocks!” message, add coupons that dad can use with the kids. Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

You Gotta Hand It to Dad

Use acrylic paint to make a handprint or footprint on a tote bag, poster paper or apron for the dad who grills and cooks. Then add your choice of words:

  • “Daddy’s wrapped around my little finger.” Draw a piece of string around the smallest finger.
  • “This dad is the best, hands down.” Use two handprints from one child, or multiple prints from several kids.
  • “Hooked on dad.” Add an eye and fin to horizontal handprints to make a fish, then draw a hook in its mouth and a line leading upward.
  • “Dad’s helper.” Make a horizontal handprint then paint a simple, long rectangle underneath it to make it a handle and hammer. You can also draw a couple nails with fingerprints as the nail heads and write: “As a dad, you’ve nailed it.”
  • “Number One Fan.” Make a horizontal footprint with brown paint then use white to add laces in the middle so it looks like a football. An official NFL ball has eight cross stitches and 16 holes. (See if Dad knows that one.)

Father’s Day Cards (No, Not that Kind)

Use your phone to take a photo of a picture drawn by resident artists of any age and upload it to a site such as Vistaprint or UPrinting. You can also simply upload an actual favorite photo of dad with the kids.

Ten personalized folding cards and envelopes on Vistaprint cost $15; 25 personalized postcards on UPrinting cost $13.

Even with delays in shipping, Vistaprint orders are arriving within eight days of ordering.

Katherine Snow Smith is a freelance writer and editor in St. Petersburg, Fla., and author of Rules for the Southern Rulebreaker: Missteps and Lessons Learned.