We've said it before and we'll say it again: Dads are notoriously tough to shop for. And this year, with so many experiential gifts being suddenly off-the-table, it's actually harder than ever to shop for your old man. But not all hope is lost. We've rounded up several suitable options for ticking off the toughest giftee on your holiday shopping list. Though you may not be able to attend a concert or a ball game together anytime soon, these gift ideas are just as good — and infinitely easier to wrap than an experience, anyway.
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1. For Podcast Dads: The 99% Invisible City by Roman Mars and Kurt Kohlstedt, $28
The first hold-it-in-your-hand IRL tome from beloved podcast 99% Invisible, this book is sure to be a hit with "Podcast Dads." But its block-by-block citywise appeal also makes it a shoo-in for "Bike Dads" and "Architecture Dads." And, because of host/author Roman Mars' humor and habits, we're relatively certain it'll also be a perfect gift for "Pun Dads" and "Did-You-Know Dads" (which, let's face it, is 99% of Dads).
2. For Coffee Snob Dads: Fellow Ode Grinder, $299
If your dad ever braved a snowstorm to get you a highly coveted, toy-of-the-year Tickle Me Elmo in your infancy, now's the time to return the favor. The Fellow Ode is probably the most anticipated new release in coffee since, well, cream and sugar. Early reviews cite this unbelievably sleek, matte-black apparatus's absurdly quiet volume, delightful magnetic grind cup, and general ease-of-use. If your family is the first on the block to own one, you can bet your dad will be engaging in some bragging rights.
3. For One-of-a-Kind Dads: Field Notes Snowy Evening Limited Edition, $13
Dads who always have a notebook in tow will already know the Field Notes name — but this year, they're doing something special with their signature notebooks. They've created 99,999 unique (yes — literally, unique) snowflake renderings and printed each one on a notebook, yielding 33,333 utterly one-of-a-kind sets of three. The word "snowflake" has endured a lot of indignity over the past few years, but here we see it returned to its former whimsy and majesty — and that's kind of beautiful, right?
4. For Gym Dads: FightCamp Personal, $1,219
Not all dads love the gym — but the ones who do, really love the gym. If yours has been missing out on his weekly (or daily) sweat sesh during the 2020 lockdown, may we introduce FightCamp? FightCamp pairs virtual sessions in boxing and kickboxing with "smart" (but, crucially, also nice-looking) gloves, bags, and other gear to help keep tabs on your training. And yes, there's an option to bill monthly if you don't have a spare grand lying around for gifting.
5. For Tech Dads: Courant CATCH:3 Saddle Leather Edition, $175
Courant has made its (very clever) name as the go-to in wireless charging, and the latest addition to their lineup doesn't disappoint. Partnering with leather tanneries in Verona, Italy, the brand has created a rich saddle leather option that'll age beautifully with use. It's designed to stand in for a valet tray, so it's perfect for a bedside table or landing pad in the entryway.
6. For Drink Dads: Buster & Punch Machined Whiskey Bar, $305
UK brand Buster & Punch traffics in machined metal objects from light fixtures to motorcycles, but there's something about this simple machined brass "bar" (really, more like a double coaster) and two heavy-bottomed Old Fashioned glasses that really fits the "dad" bill.
7. For Dog Dads: Roverlund Pet Carrier and Carryall Bundle, $275
What proud dog dad wouldn't want to match his briefcase to his pet carrier for OOO excursions?
8. For Drink-With-the-Dog Dads: Waterford Crystal Irish Dogs Wolfhound Decanter, $295
Sometimes, only a Waterford crystal homage to the family pet will do.
9. For Old-School Dads: Dad Grass Clear Head Cassettes Stash, $37
Dad Grass's CBD pre-rolls are gift enough, but the true magic comes from their ingenious hidden-in-plain-sight packaging. This one revives retro tape deck designs in the best way.
10. For Chess Dads: Silvino Lopeztovar Modern Chess Set, $990
Maybe you're his #1 opponent, or maybe you've just been watching The Queen's Gambit together — either way, this modern chess set from Mexican designer and artist Silvino Lopeztovar will be a conversation starter for years to come.
11. For Entertaining Dads: Burrow Dram Bar Cart, $295
The bentwood design is very pleasing, and the thoughtful cutouts make it easy to clean (calling all Neat Freak Dads). We think it'd look great piled high with plants instead of spirits, too.
12. For Head-Chefs-in-Training: Ooni Koda Outdoor Pizza Oven, $475
If he loves a good slice — we'll leave the style (New York, Neopolitan, Chicago, etc.) up to him — there's no better way to scratch the pizza itch than gifting him this top-rated backyard pizza oven. It can get up to 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit and cook pizzas in less than 60 seconds.
13. For the Lawn-Obsessed: Sunday Lawn Care Subscription, $129
These ingenious lawn care boxes solve the unique challenges presented by your hometown's climate and soil grade with a two-pronged approach: First, the service uses Google Maps imaging to get a read on your current situation, then cross-references with a handy soil testing kit included in the first box to give you plug-and-play solutions for an envy-inducing lawn. The result? A customized plan to boost lawn health, delivered in three seasonal shipments, so dad can just attach a garden hose to the nutrient packs and spray all day.
14. For the Campfire Enthusiast: BioLite Wood & Charcoal Burning Fire Pit, $249.95
With a unique smokeless design that lets you enjoy a roaring campfire without stinging your eyes, this BioLite fire pit might be the most hi-tech take on the ancient appeal of snuggling up to a warm fire we've ever seen. The size of the flames can be controlled manually or remotely via an app on dad's phone, so he can tinker with it to his heart's content, and the dual racks even convert the entire setup into a hibachi-style grill when the mood for food strikes. Tech, grilling, fire-building ... I think we've crossed off the trifecta of Dad Interests.
Emily Bihl is a freelance writer and sometimes-songwriter who can invariably be found rearranging furniture in a domicile somewhere along the Mississippi River. She lives with her black labrador Selkie and a small army of homemade ceramics, and has not willingly closed a browser tab since 2011.