Give Great Gifts to Dads

frugal gifts, christmas gifts

If there’s one demographic that’s harder to shop for than moms or teenage/20-something guys, I think it’s dads. Seriously. I adore Beach Dad and want to get him an awesome gift, but most things on his wish lists cost hundreds of dollars (like the surround sound speakers he wishes would be under our Christmas tree). And, even if it doesn’t cost a lot of money, dads often buy themselves the gift before we have the chance to!

A few times growing up, we bought my dad a Christmas present only to return it a few days later when we discovered he’d bought it for himself the week before Christmas. And, his birthday is the week after Christmas, so it’s doubly hard to shop for him!

If you’re struggling to find an affordable gift Dad will love, here are some of my ideas:

Hot sauces – If he likes spicy foods, you could get him an assortment of hot sauces to try at home. Or, Buffalo Wild Wings sells their sauces so he can easily make wings or other spicy recipes at home (We have a buffalo wing dip we love!).

Restaurant/bar gift card – Speaking of Buffalo Wild Wings, a gift card to a guy-friendly place like Buffalo Wild Wings makes a great gift, especially if he doesn’t have the chance to eat there often. You could either turn it into a date night focused on things he loves to do or you could send him out with the guys to watch the game and eat wings.

Grill tools or seasonings – This Maverick RediFork Thermometer ($22.80) is a digital grill thermometer/grill fork that includes an easy-to-read display and flashlight for if he’s grilling at night. As far as seasonings, we’ve made homemade dry rubs and bought gourmet seasonings at Williams-Sonoma. Our favorite is this Ultimate Burger Starter. You could also get him some nice cuts of meat from Omaha Steaks (or just visit the local butcher counter and get nicer steaks than you’d normally buy).

Knife Sharpener – This makes a great stocking stuffer. We have this one that is only $4.69 on Amazon. It’s not the fanciest knife sharpener available, but it has served us well the past few years and I’d certainly buy it again, especially for that price!

Griddler – I got an older version of this Cuisinart griddler for Beach Dad’s first-ever Father’s Day and it’s awesome. I bought it because we had just moved to an apartment that didn’t allow a grill and we’ve used it to “grill out” and to make delicious paninis. For grilling, it’s not quite like the real thing, but it’s a good substitute and the grilled sandwiches are awesome. This version also has flat griddler plates so you can make pancakes or eggs too. I also recently found out you can get griddler waffle plates for this, which is awesome and just might be making it onto my list soon.  (My favorite thing about this specific griddler is that the grill plates are removable and dishwasher safe!)

Poker set – Even better, offer to host a poker night at your house. You supply the appetizers and beer; he takes the night off to relax with friends.

Bow tie – This is a fun twist on the stereotypical gift of a tie for dads.

homemade gifts for dad

Lazy day on the couch – Beach Dad rarely gets the chance to veg out on the couch and watch an entire game. So, one year, Beach Girl “gave” him an afternoon of watching football with her (which lasted about 5 minutes) and then I gave him plates of food and the chance to watch the game in quiet.

Beer or Liquor Sampler Pack – A lot of stores sell individual bottles of beer so you can make a variety pack of different beers for Dad to try. This Christmas tree out of beer bottles is a fun way to present the gift.  You could also get him a few small bottles of unique liquors for him to try or a larger bottle of one of his favorites.

Decanter set – Speaking of liquor, my husband got a monogrammed Pottery Barn decanter and glass set similar to this one as a groomsmen gift and loves it. It’s classy and affordable ($29).

Electronics case – If he’s like my husband, the dad on your list would probably love to get a Kindle Fire or iPad Mini, but if those aren’t in your budget, you could get him a case for the electronics he does have. You can either sew your own (I have a tutorial here) or you can browse kindle cases on Amazon.

Headphones – Beach Dad loves listening to music while he is working or exercising, so good headphones make a great gift for him. My friend Hannah raves about these Sony In-Ear Headphones and says they’re comparable to the more expensive Brookstone ones, but only cost $10.56 on Amazon.

Music – This is, hands down, the safest gift to give my husband. He literally cannot get enough music. His favorites this year include:

(Oh my goodness… I told you he can’t get enough! Guess I know where all his flex spending goes now!)

Concert tickets – Honestly, concerts aren’t exactly my idea of a good time. They don’t seem that different to me than listening to a CD. But Beach Dad absolutely loves concerts and a gift of concert tickets (and the chance to either go with me or a friend) is one of his very favorite things. And, they can make a pretty frugal gift, especially if you get tickets to a smaller venue or a less popular more unique band.

Beer making kit – We have a few friends who brew their own beer and it seems like a fun hobby! Amazon has the Mr. Beer Home Microbrewery System starter kit for $38.29 and each year, you could get him different kits to try an assortment of home-brewed beers like this St. Patricks Irish Stout Brew Pack.

Magazine subscription – Another gift you can keep giving year after year is magazine subscriptions. I got Beach Dad a Wired ($19.99) subscription for his birthday the first year we were married and it works out well to renew the subscription as the Gift That Keeps On Giving every year! Other magazines Dad might like would be: Popular Science (only $5 now through Christmas!), Family Handyman ($10), Popular Mechanics ($12), and Car & Driver ($10). [Prices are for a one-year subscription.]

Keychain – Beach Dad has asked for a new keychain the past few Christmases, but I haven’t been able to find a nice, inexpensive leather one that is simple enough. If you do find one, though, it should only be about $20.

homemade gifts for dad

Breakfast in bed – I’d like to get this gift! (Like my awesome drawing skills?)

Gift certificate for an experience – You could give gift certificates for him to play mini golf or frisbee golf or to a driving range or shooting range.

Stock car racing – I got a Groupon for Beach Dad to go stock car racing for Father’s Day a couple years ago. It seemed super fun and I felt like a cool wife giving it, but when we showed up to the track, it was Sketch. Thankfully, the car had broken down and Beach Dad told me later that he hadn’t really wanted to go anyway because the track was craptastic. But, if you can find a good track, that’d be really fun!

Movie passes and extra money for concessions – If you’re like us, seeing movies at the theater is a rare (but coveted) occasion. The chance to see an action movie in the theater while enjoying popcorn and Coke would top Beach Dad’s list of preferred “experience” gifts.

Date Night Jar – This is a fun idea that I found on Pinterest. Make a jar filled with popsicle sticks that each have a date idea on them and are color-coded for how much time/money they involve. When it’s time for a date night, y’all can just pull out a popsicle stick (say, a red one for an at-home, free date or a white one for a “fancy” night out) and the decision of what to do is made for you!

Pocket knife or multi-tool – Help Dad be prepared for anything with either a pocket knife or multi-tool. Our favorite brands are Leatherman ($25.99 for a multitool) and Victorinox ($14.95 for a Swiss Army knife).

Books – In a shameless plug for my favorite high school history teacher (who is now a full-time author), I’d recommend books by Tony Williams including The Jamestown Experiment: The Remarkable Story of the Enterprising Colony and the Unexpected Results That Shaped America ($6.40) and America’s Beginnings: The Dramatic Events that Shaped a Nation’s Character ($14.99).

Money clip – Beach Dad got this monogrammed money clip from Levenger a couple years ago and it’s still in perfect condition. ($45)

homemade gifts for dad

“Dessert of the Month” club – Enroll Dad in a “dessert of the month” club as you promise to make him any dessert of his choosing for the next 6 months. I packaged up a couple dessert cookbooks for Beach Dad to choose his desserts ahead of time in hopes that it would actually happen… all he wanted were chocolate chip cookies each month haha!

Geek Dad – This book is filled with fun, geeky projects that dads can do with their kids. ($11.56)

Wi-Fi SD Card – This SD card lets you wirelessly and automatically transfer pictures from your camera to your computer. (This is actually an awesome gift for the whole family and we love ours!) ($34.99 for a 4 GB card)

Something from my list of gift ideas for teenage/20-something guys.

[I’ve included prices for some of these gifts, but they’re subject to change. This post includes affiliate links and if you purchase through them, you’ll be helping to support Thanks!]

I hope these ideas are helpful as you try to spoil Dad (on a budget) this Christmas.  Please make sure to check out other posts from my Give Great Gifts on A Bare-Bones Budget series and subscribe to stay up to date.

And, if you have any other ideas, please leave them in the comments. Beach Dad has received nearly all of these gifts in the past and I’m stuck for his gift this year!

I’m linking to: Life as MomFive Days Five WaysShabby Nest, Fingerprints on the Fridge, and At the Picket Fence.


6 thoughts on “Give Great Gifts to Dads

  1. Lisa December 6, 2012 / 10:04 pm

    I’m wondering what type of camera you use with the wi-fi card. We have a D-SLR (Nikon D40) and I’m wondering if you find large files take a long time to transfer. This was some of the comments on Amazon. What I really NEED is something to just get these pictures off of my camera and organized by date for me. Once again, I’m about to endure the painful process of sorting through last year’s pictures to create a photobook for my mom. I know I need to just be more organized but I would really love for this card to work. Thanks for your help!


    • sara December 9, 2012 / 11:16 am

      We have a Nikon D90, but used to have a D40 and have never had trouble with either camera’s photos uploading slowly. The software that came with it handles the importing for us and automatically adds the photos to iPhoto for us. It didn’t really take much to set up on our end. As far as organizing them, if you have a Mac, we love iPhoto, but when we had a PC, we liked Picasa (which is free from Google). I hear ya on sorting through the year’s photos! I’m behind too, but I have found it helpful that the card automatically sends the photos to the computer so that when I have a few minutes to go through them, I don’t have to wait for them to upload first. Hope that helps…


    • sara December 9, 2012 / 11:16 am

      That’s awesome! Thanks for the idea!


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