12 Great Father's Day Gift Ideas for Retired Dads and Grandfathers
My goal in gift-giving is to find something of particular interest to the giftee—something with purpose that is memorable and displays an emotional investment.
Struggling with what to get Dad and Grandpa for Father’s Day? If you’re like me, you never have a problem choosing a great gift for mom, but when it comes to Dad and Grandpa, it’s always a brain buster. The problem is not that they won’t graciously receive whatever I give them. My guys would never say they don’t like the gift. They wouldn’t risk hurting my feelings.
The dilemma is finding a gift that Dad and Grandpa will actually use. I’ve given numerous items of clothing, mugs, and other advertised Father’s Day Gifts that were never seen or heard from again.
Asking your guys what they want is not really an option. If your guys are anything like mine, the standard response is usually, “Save your money. I don’t need anything.” In my case, it is true – they really don’t NEED anything, but that’s not the point. I want to give a gift that reflects my thought, appreciation, and love. I want them to know that my intension is to give a gift that they will enjoy. However, the older they get, the fewer gifts qualify in meeting this goal. So, I did some research and found a good list of possible, enjoyable gifts for the retired Dad and Grandpa.
The gift of time is my preference, but it’s not feasible for everyone. I believe that Emotional Investments and sharing time with loved ones can create the best memories. A loving memory is a forever gift. When giving the gift of time, be sure to plan the interaction. Don’t make it a simple visit where Dad is watching tv and you are sitting on the sofa playing with your phone. Make a solid plan. Your plan could be going out to breakfast (or dinner). I prefer breakfast over dinner. My dad doesn’t like to go out in the evening because he’s usually tired and doesn’t like to go out in the dark. He also doesn’t like to wait to eat. So, if you’re are taking Dad or Grandpa out to breakfast, make sure you have a reservation or go on a non-busy day so there’s no wait. Make sure you mention that to him as part of your plan to show your consideration for his preferences. You can say something like, “we can go on the Sunday before or after Father’s Day cause I know you don’t like crowds or waiting.” You could also plan another activity of Dad or Grandpa’s liking – maybe spend time going to a ball game or some other sports event of his interest. You could plan a family game night (if your guys enjoy that) or spend the day at the beach, go to a flea market, have a cook out, go to the movies, take him to the garden center and buy and plant a special tree of his choice. Make sure you plan the event on or close to Father’s Day so that the memory stays closely connected to the Emotional Investment of his special day. Be creative but be purposeful. Know what Dad or Grandpa likes and present the plan from the perspective that you spent time in choosing the perfect plan for your time together. Caution: Don’t promise the time and never deliver!
2. Hobby/Special Interest Gift
If it’s not feasible for you to actually participate in your Dad or Grandpa’s special interest activity, the next best thing is to show your appreciation and by giving a gift related to his interest. If your guy enjoys golf, maybe give a new club and some balls, or a gift certificate to his favorite Golf Club. If your guy loves music, you might give a blue tooth outside speaker, or something related to an instrument he plays. If your guy is a shopper, give a gift certificate to his favorite store or hardware store or Amazon, etc. Other possibilities are Gardening, Woodworking, Cooking, Painting, Wine Making, etc. Whatever Dad’s or Grandpa’s interest is, giving a Gift Card specific to that interest is a nice gift. Caution: I would not give a general gift certificate though – like Visa unless I presented in it such a way that highlighted its use specifically for his interest. Just giving a Visa gift card without an intension is too generic and doesn’t reflect the goal of showing interest. Not that I don’t like receiving a Visa gift card; but my goal here is to give a gift of purpose demonstrating that I think of him and appreciate him enough to know exactly what he enjoys. Rule of thumb: If giving a gift card, make it specific to the purpose you intended. A Father’s Day card with a Visa gift card is an okay gift, but it has no Emotional Investment.
3. Haircut Gift Certificate
This seems simple, but I really like this one. My Dad (who is 85) has very little hair, but he goes to the barber every other week. I’m not sure if he goes there to socialize as well. A gift certificate to his favorite barber shop or hair salon is a great gift. You know he’s going to use it. The gift certificate will also be a conversation starter and self-esteem booster when Dad uses it. He might even mention that he received it as a Father’s Day Gift, or the barber staff might mention that he/she had the chance to meet his family when you came in to purchase the certificate. There’s lots of possibilities for memories related to this simple gift idea.
4. Gift Card to Morning 'Hangout'
I’ve come to learn that my Dad is far from alone with his morning routine of getting up at 4:30am and going to either MacDonald’s or the local diner to have coffee with a daily group of “other old guys.” I don’t know any of these people, but my Dad has many stories about the staff who know him by name at Mickey D’s and the many bus drivers whom he’s met. He also still meets up with a small group of friends he knows from high school and his old neighborhood for lunch once per month. Giving a gift card to these hang outs promotes your interest in Dad’s or Grandpa’s social routine, and again, it can be a conversation starter and self-esteem builder. You might also mention in the Father’s Day card why you chose this special gift certificate
5. Snack Basket
Lots of old guys like snacks. Choose very specific items for your basket. Make sure the items you pick are the “tried and true” snacks your guys love. It doesn’t have to be just chips or candy. Be creative. A snack can be anything you know your guys love. Here’s some ideas: nuts and seeds, cheeses, fruits, cultural items such as an Italian Basket or Asian Basket, etc. More basket ideas: movie baskets with popcorn, soda, and Goobers; healthy snacks baskets with Trail Mix, Kind Bars or Power Bars with a new insulated water bottle; or whatever particular preferences he has. Again, try to be specific to what he likes.
6. Baseball Cap
My dad loves baseball caps, but not just any cap. One time, he asked for a special Irish cap to replace one that I picked up in Disney’s Epcot Center. He loved that hat. He wore it until it was ragged. When I was revisiting Disney years later, he asked for a replacement of the same hat. He also likes specific logo hats such as his favorite teams, but he WILL NOT wear a logo he doesn’t like or has no mean to him. Picking a logo that I know he loves really reflects my awareness of him. He likes that. In my research, I learned that baseball caps are another “old guy” favorite item.
7. Frying Pan and Spatula
It seems that lots of Dads and Grandpas like to cook breakfast. With all the new information about Teflon’s possible link to Alzheimer’s, replacing the old frying pan can be another dual benefit gift. You might also include a dozen eggs, a pound of bacon, a pack of English Muffins, hash browns, and of course a new, non-scratch spatula. I might also ask him to use it to make me breakfast because “I love his breakfast cooking.” Giving a gift that is immediately reciprocated is a prime example of an Emotional Investment.
8. Grilling Basket
This is an easy one, but I often forget about it so I wanted to be sure I add it to the list. Your specialized Grilling Basket can include a few of your guy’s favorite meats (special steaks, burgers, hot dogs and buns, pork chops, etc), grilling spices, marinade sauce, a grilling basket, salt and pepper grinders, and a grilling cookbook. You might substitute seafood for meat if that’s more appropriate. A pound of shrimp, a bag of wooden or metal skewers and some peppers and onions are also great. You might also include Dad or Grandpa’s favorite side dish such as a few nice baking potatoes, corn on the cob, a couple cans of baked beans, and bag of potato chips.
Who would have guessed that my Dad loves the Keurig cups? He makes a special trip to Boscov’s every couple of weeks to get his favorite (and most reasonable) K cups. If your guy likes his traditional coffee maker, put together a nice gift bag of his favorite brands and flavors with some creamer he likes. Maybe include a new flavor of coffee for him to try. Then make sure you follow up to see how he liked it. You can also add a bottle of flavored coffee shots and breakfast treats like tea biscuits, or some other favorite cookies. This isn’t the most creative idea, but my Dad does like receiving these, and I know he uses them every day. Adding the new flavor will keep the gift in memory when he reports back to you.
“Old guys” seem to like sneakers. Of course, you have to know his size, but if your guy is willing to take a trip to the store with you, he can pick what he likes and try them on. This isn’t always an easy task though. Getting my Dad to go to the store with me with the goal of buying him something doesn’t work. He just won’t go. He will say he doesn’t need anything. So, if there’s a way you can learn his size, he will most likely enjoy this gift. You can get some really nice men’s sneakers at the Burlington Store (formerly Burlington Coat Factory) for a very reasonable price. They have those new light-weight sneakers that are awesome for the summer. I bought a pair of the women’s light-weight ones, and I love them. They’re like wearing slippers. For men, they come in a variety of brands, colors, and styles. At Burlington, I’ve seen them range from $29.99-$59.99. They’re a great deal. Make sure you include a gift receipt if you pick them out on your own.
11. Bag of Groceries
If your Dad or Grandpa can leave the house or are simply very difficult to buy for, there’s always the option of giving a bag of groceries. I would include an entire meal in the bag: appetizer, entrée, sides, dessert and a drink. Again, the goal is to give a gift with meaning, not just a last-minute thought because you’re expected to give a gift. Package the bag of groceries as his “Favorite Meal.” Make it special! You might also offer to make a date to come cook it for him.
12. Bottle of Wine/Liquor or Case of Beer
If your Dad or Grandpa is a connoisseur of some type of kind, a special bottle or case of specialized beer can be a nice gift – Joy in a Bottle! Package it nicely and highlight the gift as his “Favorite Bottle.”
Remember, the purpose of Father’s Day is to honor the men we love and show them how much we appreciate them. “Appreciation” is knowing who they are and what they like. Give them something that supports their unique character. We don’t want to just give a gift. We want to give a memory! Show Dad and Grandpa what you notice about them specifically that sets them apart from every other Dad and Grandpa. Make a connection and have fun with it!
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© 2019 Cherie Scheurich