When I told my kids I was writing this article, they all chimed in with “You’re not a dad! Why are you writing that article?”
Tough crowd. But as I countered, I have bought a lot of Father’s Day gifts over the years, and there are some things I’ve learned along the way.
With my own dad living 2,000 km away and my 3 young kids still needing practical help to buy or make something for their father – plus my natural tendency to procrastinate – I’ve had a lot of practice at being efficient while still ending up with a present that’s meaningful.
So if you’ve similarly found yourself with a shortage of time and ideas to celebrate the dads in your life, this list of last-minute Father’s Day gift ideas will help!
1. DIY in a Day: You’ve got less than a week to pull a DIY gift together, so it needs to be realistic and fairly simple. With a few hours of creative sweat, you can get your dad a one-of-kind gift that’s also pretty easy on the budget. Make a custom t-shirt at home with a favourite photo or your own design that can be printed onto iron-on transfer paper, available at your local craft store. Or use an online photo gift store to make him a cute mug or mouse pad if you need to make and ship your gift in a hurry. If you have a few days, whip up his favourite sweet treat in the kitchen with the kids and wrap it up with a magazine or the Sunday paper to enjoy while he indulges.
2. It’s in a Book: If you’ve got a Dad that’s also a reader, a book or two is always a reliable and appreciated option. Get his stack of summer reading started with a best-selling paperback, find a hardcover classic for his collection, or pick out a cookbook, travel guide, or coffee table book that matches his interests. Too late to ship a book to your long-distance dad? A gift card to Chapters or his local favourite bookstore is something you can do online or over the phone, or you can try a gift card to Audible for dads on the go.
3. Pick a Theme: This is the kind of gift you can pull together in a quick 20 minutes in one store if you’re really in rush (or when you’re shopping with 3 kids, which nobody wants to prolong). Last year, my kids had a blast making their dad a hot sauce themed basket with fun and spicy options. With plenty of Star Wars fans in our family, we seem to often end up with a lot of “I am Your Father” gifts that are always hits, and of course there is always a quick trip to Canadian Tire when you want to quickly fill a bucket with everything you need for a camping, fishing, sports or handyman themed gift.
4. Activities and Experiences. Why not give dad some time to do something he loves? Good for dads that live close by or far away, you can pre-pay for his round of golf or some time at the driving range at his favourite course, or make a date to go together if you live nearby. Movie theatre gift cards, a tasting tour at a local brewery, or an organized neighbourhood or family ball game all make great ways to get your dad out for some quality downtime. You could also surprise him with a picnic to go, or by supplying everything needed for a gourmet backyard BBQ at home with family and friends.
5. Give him a call. If a tight budget, travels for work or school, or the rigours of raising your kids make getting that perfect gift an obstacle this year, remember that a phone or video chat, a handmade card, or even sending a heartfelt video message is probably more than enough to put a smile on the face of any dad in your life. At the end of the day, no matter what you choose, parents really just love a good “thank you”. As one dad in my neighbourhood said recently, “The gift isn’t important; it’s just nice to know they’re thinking about me.” It’s good to keep in mind that making time to say we care is really the most meaningful gift we can give, any time of year.