2020 Dad Gift Guide

Hello everybody!

It's come to our attention that dads can be hard to shop for so we did what people do in tough situations and we took our hardship to Twitter. Really, we had joked a bit about bad dad gifts we'd found on Etsy and then Rachel Syme had made a comment about how folks really do seem so struggle finding gifts for their dads and so asked y'all what gifting successes you've had!

Here is the full exchange

A few disclaimers:

  • Why Are Dads is a show where we discuss dads in all sorts of contexts—we do so by way of talking about dads, fatherhood, patriarchy and other stuff through the lens of pop culture and so we know that LOTS of familal relations can be fraught. If things aren't good with your dad, there are so many of us out here who are with you and we talk about that a whole lot on this show. You're in good company. Don't feel like you need to get a gift if that doesn't make sense right now. 
  • Also, don't feel like you need to get a gift if you can't afford to get a gift right now. What a weird, fucked time we're living in and also it's always weird and fucked up on some level and we're made to feel shameful if we're having a hard time with money. Don't feel that way, at least not with us. Your ability to get your dad a cool gift does not determine your worth as a human being. You are good. 
  • There is... a lot of wild gender baggage in the concept of "dads" and "fathers" and we try to play with and subvery that a bit in our dialogue, and the same should go for this list. Maybe also just read this as prospective gifts for WHOEVER in your life who might like what we imagine when we talk about "dad" gifts. And truly, the lineup of gifts here is diverse and varied so you might, as many have on the Twitter exchange have said, find a gift that is cool even if you are not a dad or a cishet male or whatever. This is for you if you determine that it is for you. 
  • It would mean THE WORLD to us if you used this list to, whenever possible, find the gift or some equivelent locally. If it's a book, go to this website to find a local indie bookstore. I run a small business by day, and running a podcast is effectively a small business, and small businesses are fucked right now because the government is run by nihilistic plutocrats. 
  • WHEN IN DOUBT DONATE TO A CAUSE IN DAD'S NAME. This has come up A LOT. Or make a Kiva microloan in their name. 
  • If you have found this helpful at all and want to tip us (which goes into producing our podcast), you can do so on PayPal, on Venmo, or you can support Why Are Dads on Patreon and get weekly bonus content. If that's not in the cards, maybe just give us a listen. We're just glad you're here. 

Okay, let's do this. Hopefully you can find some inspiration here! Thanks to everyone who weighed in on Twitter! 

I'm going to keep updating this, as responses are still pouring in! 

Food + Food Adjacent

  • replacement cookie sheet for their 25 year old banged up one
  • nice vanilla bean paste 
  • tea
  • make your own hot sauce
  • chef's jacket with emboidered name 
  • whetstones for knife sharpening 
  • assortment of fancy jams 
  • fancy ice cream from Jenni's
  • a pair of big, beautiful briskets 
  • air frier 
  • bluetooth cooking thermometer
  • a good silicone spatula & wooden spoonula
  • case of spicy deli mustard 
  • nice condiments they might otherwise not buy (Maldon salt, for example) 
  • Whirly Pop Popcorn maker
  • instant pot 
  • fancy hot sauces 
  • recipe binder 
  • Wusthof chef's knife
  • fancy cheese in whatever form 
  • local meats! 
  • CSA membership 
  • coffee of any sort, obviously
  • Katz's deli pastrami sandwich kit 
  • food from Zingerman's or Zabars
  • fancy fish (from Pike Place Fish Market, Browne Trading Company, or from your local monger!) 
  • Omaha steaks 
  • Harry & David pears
  • gouda sampler
  • Degrenne teapot
  • assorted fancy and/or strange foods (pickles!) 
  • pickled everything (and pickling supplies) 
  • 2-lb bone-in ribeye
  • trail mix in a nice box 

Sentimental 

  • picture frame featuring special moment
  • framed favorite song lyrics 
  • official records of relatives' immigration from Ellis Island
  • USGS map of his hometown from the year they were born
  • handdrawn map of their hometown 
  • photo of them and their partner, or other family, when they were younger blown up and printed on canvass 
  • compilation CDs! 
  • scrapbook 
  • bound collection of family photos (a service like Blurb is great for this) 
  • write a letter 
  • a toy or something else from their youth via Ebay or a flea market 
  • sheet music from a favorite musician 
  • StoryWorth (collects family stories) 

Wearables

  • a new hat (you can get one embroidered!) 
  • cashmere beanie 
  • hand knit slippers (or just nice slippers) 
  • socks with their face on them 
  • flannel nightshirts 
  • personalized wooden watch 
  • a "you are good" Young Frankenstein-inspired shirt by Liz Climo + your friends at Why Are Dads 
  • custom apron that reads something sassy like "kitchen god" 
  • jack shirt 
  • Hail Sagan t-shirt 
  • Blundstones boots
  • matching shirts for them and the family (Bonfire is good for this, or, ideally, a local printer!)
  • waders (for water walking, fishing, etc.) 
  • Tevas

Functional 

  • a solid backpack 
  • sturdy travel cups (folks love Yeti it seems) 
  • high quality leather wallet 
  • replace and program the tv remote 
  • bluetooth speakers 
  • keychain USB drive
  • electric lighter 
  • coffee bean grinder 
  • engraved leatherman 
  • emergency kit for the car 
  • cool sheets of USPS stamps 
  • binoculars for bird watching and/or snooping
  • pocket knife
  • boot dryer 
  • compression socks 
  • weighted blanket 
  • graph paper notebooks 
  • a good tape despenser 
  • mug with the cat's face on it 
  • some sort of headphones 
  • journal and pen 
  • Swiss Army Knife
  • foam roller 
  • magnetic wristband (keeping track of nails and stuff)
  • magnetic grill lights for night grilling 
  • pool cue
  • stepladder 
  • kindling cracker
  • back scratcher

Booze + Ephemera + Vice

  • local gin 
  • beer classes with stuff printed on it 
  • chocolate
  • infused rums (you do the infusing if you're crafty)
  • fresh cookies 
  • ginger simple syrup or other cocktail accoutrements
  • fancy scotch 
  • unique bitters
  • Flaviars Whisky Advent calendar
  • vaporizer 
  • vintage drinking glasses

Outdoors Stuff

  • a literal tree or bush to plant (as long as the ground is not frozeon, of course) 
  • bird feeder
  • very small electric leaf blower (for leaves / sawdust too!)
  • trail camera
  • composting staerter kit 
  • seeds from the seed catalogue
  • animal calls

Experiences

  • gift certificate to a new local restaurant 
  • guided hike 
  • walking tour of a favorite city 
  • ice skating pass 
  • zomboni driving lessons (!) 
  • national parks pass (for seniors a lifetime pass is $80)
  • flight lessons 
  • metal detector
  • Appalacian Mountain Club membership 
  • tickets to see dad-oriented jam bands (ha!)

Huh

  • Card with voice 
  • socks with dog's faces
  • photo of adored family member restored, cleaned, framed
  • interesting chess board 
  • digital luggage scale
  • walking sticks (this has come up a bunch) 
  • locally made camera strap 
  • subscription to NYT crossword 
  • programmable lights (like Hue) 
  • harmonica 
  • signed art from their favorite cartoonist or artist 

Books + Media

  • sociological history of ink 
  • books about infections disease 
  • Entertainment 
  • box set or season pass of favorite show from their youth
  • rounding out their catalog of their favorite musician or author
  • streaming subscription 
  • Mell Brooks box set (obviously) 
  • sudoku of course! 
  • fancy atlas 
  • DVDs of comedy they like 
  • animal footprint and/or scat identification guide
  • Calvin & Hobbs box set
  • dank history shit 

Sport

  • Signed golf puck at charity event 
  • Golf doohickey 
  • Replica of favorite team sign 
  • Jesus hates the Yankees t-shirt 
  • blueprint of their favorite stadium 
  • vintage recording of favorite team winning favorite game
  • bottle of port from milestone year 
  • personalized golf balls that read “Best dad, okay golfer”

Subscription

  • shave club
  • fruit of the month
  • Blue Apron (prepared meal ingredients) 
  • FuegoBox (hot sauce)
  • bacon of the month 
  • fruit of the month
  • Mouth (interesting collections of foods)