When I was a very little girl, I saved up my allowance and bought my father some notecards for Father’s Day.
They had delicate gold script lettering.
And roses. Lots of roses.
While I can’t be sure that there were ladybugs, I do seem to recall a butterfly or two.
And he used them. Because that’s what fathers do: they smile bravely and then wear ugly ties or stupid aprons and use notecards with delicate gold script lettering and roses purchased by their misguided offspring. But they shouldn’t have to.
Times have changed since the stereotypical days when people thought, “Let’s get dad a tie, because we don’t know what makes him tick and we have to throw something in a box,” says Trent Valladares, Co-founder of Hex, a company that creates innovative products for modern dads interested in tech and design.
It’s always been a lot easier to get gifts for your mother, but as fatherhood evolves, so should your gift choices and understanding of the modern-day dad.
One Father’s Crash Course in Masculinity
TIME humor columnist Joel Stein has always been an evolved kind of a guy. He admits that in his youth most of his friends were girls, and he not only had an Easy Bake Oven, but also a glass animal collection. “The idea of camping and fighting and playing sports was foreign to me,” says Stein, who, on finding out that his wife was pregnant with their first child, a boy, decided to go on a quest to discover his misplaced masculinity.
“I was ill-equipped to be a father to a boy. I know nothing about boys, despite having been one.” For that reason, he decided that a crash course in masculinity would be his best course of action. “I needed to learn all that I could about being a guy,” says Stein. He continues, “It took me about two years, but I’d say that I’m about 12% manlier than I was.”
His adventures included time spent in boot camp with the U.S. Army, training with L.A. Firefighters and learning how to fix toilets, which apparently made him not only irresistible to his wife, but also impressed his son greatly (Stein cites Mad Men’s Don Draper and the sink fixing incident as an example of plumbing as an aphrodisiac). Stein chronicled his adventures in his new book: Man Made: A Stupid Quest for Masculinity (Grand Central Publishing).
Self-deprecation aside, it’s Stein’s fond memories of his father’s lessons about history and investing that impressed upon him the need to be wise with his own finances and future, which he intends on passing along to his own son, too. “My father was amazing at teaching me how to invest money. I was insanely bored by his lengthy lectures about investing and American History, but I learned how to invest- and my kid will, too.” He continues, “More than investing, he made me understand the value of money is more about protection, rather than the thrill of buying stuff.”
Which poses a challenge: with Father’s Day coming up, you want to show dad that you appreciate not only him, but the lessons he’s taught you about life and what’s really valuable. So if you do splurge, make sure you take into account not only your father’s likes and dislikes, but his priorities. And then splurge on the one guy who makes all the others pale in comparison.
For the Tech Savvy Dad
- There are a slew of reports discussing the dangers of radiation from cell phones. The new Neon Pop Phone from Native Union is a retro handset that can be used on both his cell phone and also Skype and is said to reduce 99% of cell phone radiation ($34.95).
- The cool messenger bags from Hex don’t look specifically like computer accessories. They also have a patented PadPort which means that dad can use his iPad from his bag and while on the go ($79.95).
- For your own sanity (who among us hasn’t tired of providing tech support to dear old dad?), Virgin Digital Help offers a $30.00 one-time fix or $15.00 monthly subscription to help your dad become his own tech support network. They help customers with everything from e-mail to tablet trouble.
For the Well-Groomed Dad
- Demeter Fragrance Library has long made cool, single scent fragrance spritzes that are popular with both men and women. The new generation of fragrances includes Vetiver from Demeter Naturals Collection, a 100% natural fragrance that’s clean and earthy.
- Do you have a more fashion-forward dad? John Varvatos Collection Fragrances come in four varieties (Classic, Artisan, Vintage, and Artisan Black) and combine citrus and herbal scents in cool flask-like bottles (the artisan varieties comes encased in wicker).
- Aramis has long been a classic men’s grooming brand. Their ShavePlex Super Luxury Shave Foam offers dad the smoothest shave ever.
- A Guy’s Guide to Style by Bernard Roetzel (hf Ullmann Publishers) goes through the basic and long-term fundamentals of good fashion sense for men of all ages.
For the Active Dad
- The Panasonic Lumix® DMC-TS4 12.1 Megapixel Digital Camera comes in a variety of bright colors, so it’s not easily lost or misplaced. It’s also waterproof, shockproof, freeze-proof and dustproof, has full video recording capabilities and, among other things, a barometer and compass. It’s multifaceted and reliable, even under pressure — just like your dad! ($399.00).
- EagleRider.com offers your father the ability to live out his secret Sons of Anarchy aspirations with the ability to rent a Harley Davidson for a day. They’re offering a Father’s Day Harley special for $88.00.
For my Dad
All of my love and a lifetime of gratitude.
Rachel Weingarten wishes to publicly to apologize to her father for both the rose notecard incident and also the years of raw pancakes and runny eggs. She is a style expert, marketing strategist & personal branding consultant for CEOs, politicians and celebrities and the creator of MintStyle. She is the award-winning author of Career and Corporate Cool and Hello Gorgeous! Beauty Products in America ‘40s-‘60s. Rachel writes for top media outlets including CNN, Fortune, Forbes Life, MSN, USA Today, Yahoo Finance and many others. She is a regularly featured expert on TV shows including Good Morning America and The Today Show. Visit her online at http://racheletc.com or on Twitter @rachelcw Write to her with your burning style questions at firstname.lastname@example.org