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 unisot 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?