6 Father’s Day Gift Ideas (and a story)


Growing up my sister and I called our father “Dard”. The nickname was fondly given after my sister read Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, where a family of four sisters called their mother “Marmee”. My sister must have liked the name because soon after putting the tome down our own mom was nicked “Marm”.

It seemed unfair to give only one parental unit a nickname, so my sister in her infinite wisdom to be fair and just, coined the name “Dard” for parental parity. To this day my father answers to “Dard” and my mother to “Marm”. Yes, my whole family is a little bit bent. Yours probably is too.

This has been an especially trying year for my Dard. A few months ago he nearly succumbed to meningitis, a severe and usually life-threatening illness caused by severe inflammation around the brain and spinal cord. Dard spent many days lying unconscious in a Toronto-area hospital while medical staff and my family watched close by. It was a precarious time, but Dard managed to beat meningitis. I don’t know how he did it, but he did.

Since this could have been my first Father’s Day without Dard, I am especially grateful this story has a happy ending. Over the decades (yikes, I’m getting old) I’ve celebrated Father’s Day with various gifts, long distance phone calls, and stuff. But in light of my own family scare, I think the most valuable gift you can give your father is time.

Time is a special resource one cannot buy back. I don’t care how rich you are. Time is here today. Time is right now. So this Father’s Day why not pass on pricey presents and find a way to spend some time with your dad.

I’ve put together a list of 6 thoughtful gift ideas you can share with your dad this Father’s Day. In crafting this list I’ve tried to think about kids of varying ages, because a 35-year-old adult is probably in a different space than a 3-year-old kiddo (I hope).

This Father’s Day perhaps think of going for personal over pricey and aim for style over looks. It doesn’t cost a thing to be thoughtful.

1. Father’s Day Tickets

This is a fun and frugal Father’s Day gift idea for a younger person or for a young adult. I call these printable Father’s Day Tickets and they are a fun free pass for thoughtful ways to spend time with (or helping) your dad. Just download and print using a color printer and place in a card. There are two blank tickets for you to get creative with your own thoughtful ideas.

fathers day gift ideas
Download: Father’s Day Tickets (PDF)

These tickets are only redeemable from fun and thoughtful kids and offer ideas like mowing the law, cleaning up a room, and playing sports.

2. Frugalicious Father’s Day Breakfast

Who doesn’t love to wake up to a delicious and healthy breakfast in bed? Duh! Start Father’s Day right with a frugalicious breakfast and then fill the day with lots of fun activities. Here are some breaky ideas to get your brain cells thinking!

the breakfast club

3. Music To His Ears

Got some favorite Father’s Day Songs for an iPod playlist? Go ahead and make some music fit for Dad’s ears by compiling a musical composition and burning it to CD. Get crafty and make some CD cover art for the occasion. This gift idea is great for teens with much music on the brain. Perhaps go down memory lane and find some “oldies” from Dad’s generation. Just don’t blame me if he starts groovin’ to the tunes.

songs about money

4. Feature a Father’s Day Photo or Poem

Looking for some Father’s Day crafts to celebrate Dad’s day? How about finding an awesome photo of Dad and then placing it in a frame of your own design? Getting crafty and making a custom frame with a theme to match the photo is an awesome and thoughtful gift for dads to cherish. Or perhaps you’re more a wordsmith and have a way with wordage? Writing a single or a series of Father’s Day poems may be the gift he keeps forever.

5. Dads Love Dessert

Who doesn’t like dessert? Try dishing some yummy dessert after a special Father’s Day dinner. Decorate an ice cream sundae, make some healthy granola bars, or roll up some chocolate truffles. Baking a cake and decorating it special for Dad is a yummy way to celebrate too.

chocolate dessert recipes

6. Phone Home

E.T. used to do it. You don’t need to be an Extra-Terrestrial to pick up the ringer and “phone home”. Dialing a few digits may be the best solution when distance prevents a face-to-face Father’s Day celebration. So be like E.T. and phone home.

I have to be honest, I’ve never been one to send gushing cards, buy lavish gifts, or get all mushy over birthdays or holidays. I’m just not built that way. But I am, and always will be, eternally grateful to my Dard for spending time with me as a kid playing soccer, going tobogganing, or teaching me to trumpet. So since I am far away from home I dedicate this post to My Dard.


Got a favorite Father’s Day memory? Any unique gift ideas to share?


  1. MoneyEnergy June 18, 2009 at 5:55 pm

    Nice post… I celebrated with my father this past week, actually, mother’s and father’s day together since I wasn’t home for either. It’s good to appreciate the time they spend and especially lately my parents have been more supportive than ever. The best gift from me though, if I could afford it, would just be to pay off all their debts. They’ve worked long and hard enough already.

  2. Riscario Insider June 18, 2009 at 7:19 pm

    What excellent ideas, Kerry. Since time is finite and nonrenewable, that’s a great gift. When accompanied with your attention, the gift is greater.

    There’s a common theme in your suggestions: giving yourself. That’s the greatest gift I can imagine. Emerson agrees 😉 http://bit.ly/UgiveU

    I was invited to spend Sunday afternoon with insurance advisors, which as exciting as it sounds. I declined, preferring to spend Father’s Day with my family.

  3. Beth June 18, 2009 at 8:01 pm

    I’m so happy to hear that your dear dard is doing better, KerryK. You say you don’t know how he did it, I say that the same passion and drive that got you through IMC didn’t come from a distant relative at all 🙂
    I love your suggestions for gifts for dad, but I’ve chosen to get mine this instead: http://is.gd/15TMc

  4. Four Pillars June 18, 2009 at 8:05 pm

    Wow, what a nice post. Glad to hear your Dad is doing ok.

  5. Doctor S June 19, 2009 at 2:32 am

    Glad to hear your dad is doing better. Nothing beats spending quality time with one’s dad. Since I live at home, I get more opportunities than most other people (I am 3 years out of college cut me some slack!). My dad and I have enjoyed doing simple things, like goin for a walk while smokes a cig or two or driving to AC with him for an all nighter of the tables. I have no idea what I am going to give my dad this sunday, cooking him breakfast sounds good though, but spending all day with him sounds better.

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  7. Steve June 19, 2009 at 6:37 am

    I got my father an offset umbrella for his dock. What do you think? It was a little expensive but so what.

  8. Sagan June 19, 2009 at 9:28 am

    Cooking with my dad or giving him framed photographs etc have been lots of fun in the past. He’s on the other side of the world this Father’s Day but I’ll be calling him up- that’s better than anything storebought, anyways!

  9. FupDuckTV June 23, 2009 at 8:56 am

    You forgot expensive electronics! That is what every dad wants and needs.

  10. Kerry June 23, 2009 at 9:17 am

    @Fup Trying to keep things frugal FupDuck. 🙂

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