8 Free Father’s Day Gifts Guaranteed to Make Dad Happy

Have you been agonizing over the perfect gift for dad? Are you experiencing the Recession Blues as you go from isle to isle, store to store wondering what to get, hoping to keep within budget, finding that everything within budget doesn’t quite seem to convey the message you want to send?

Following, are some ideas for keeping both your dad and your accountant happy.

1. Give a Hugor a shoulder rub

Reach out and hug your father, especially if you’re a teen who “doesn’t do that.” The human embrace is a powerful thing. It conveys warmth and affection and closeness. It speaks words the mouth won’t. It speaks the language the heart feels when the will to give voice to those feelings is weak.

For the best effect, let the hug last just a bit too long, a little longer than feels comfortable. Dad might feel uncomfortable too (depending on dad’s personality and hug history), but the memory of the hug will far outlast the awkward moment the lingering hug may create in the moment.

If you’re a hugging family already (mine is), then try a shoulder rub instead. It can convey the same message as the hug.

2. Express Gratitude

Thank your dad for being the man he is (however imperfect that might have been. Chances are, he knows his mistakes much more clearly than his virtues). Specify a trait, quality, or moment from your memory that stands out as the thing about him you appreciate.

“Hey dad, remember that time when …” is a good way to start.

3. Demonstrate Respect

Men are funny people. We thrive on respect. Do your best on Father’s Day to demonstrate that respect. Your dad may have a unique way of interpreting respect. As long as it doesn’t violate any moral or legal code, give it a shot. It’s a great gift to a man, especially if he’s not used to getting it.

4. Lend a Hand

If your dad is cleaning the garage, pick up a broom and start sweeping alongside the man. No need to ask him what you can do to help. Also, no need to say, “Hey dad, I’m giving you this gift of helping you today.” Just start in. If he’s under the car, crouch down with a light or hand him the wrench. If he’s pulling weeds, start yanking the things yourself. It will mean a lot to him.

5. Ask for his Opinion

“Dad, I was just wondering what you thought about …” These can be powerful words to a dad who is likely pretty used to know-it-all sons and daughters who roll their eyes every time he opens his mouth. Such requests for fatherly advice powerfully convey interest, trust and respect. Even if you don’t take the advice and even if you know you won’t, listen respectfully and appreciate his offering. Many dads thrive on such opportunities to share their thoughts about things that matter to their children.

6. Clean your Room

Let this one be a metaphor for doing whatever it is your father keeps getting on you to do, but you don’t quite get done as often as you know you should. If it’s doing your chores or homework or treating your kid brother kindly, do it! It will be a wonderful day for a dad on Father’s Day.

7. Give him a Hand-made Card

Hand make a card (out of construction paper, a paper bag, cardboard, whatever. Then, in the home-made card, tell dad how he has positively influenced you. No need to mention his mistakes (we all make them!), it’s Father’s Day, after all. Just highlight the positive influence he has been.

If, for example, his teasing has made you stronger, simply state that he has made you a stronger person. You can save the complaint of methodology for another day.

8. Make him Breakfast (or lunch or dinner)

Going out to eat is overrated. Stay home. Fix up the house (or room where you’ll eat). Put up a sign made with crayons extolling dad’s virtues and your love and respect for him. Draw a picture on his napkin or write a short message to him and place it on his plate.

9. Ask Him about His life

Take an interest in him. Ask him about his life as a little boy. Ask him to tell you what it was like growing up when and where he did, in his family, with grandma and grandpa. Ask him about the war, his college years, his teens, his first date, how he met mom. You will likely make his day … and just may help rebuild a strained relationship in the process!


Rituals and celebrations can be wonderful tools for enhancing human joy. Dad’s happiness may not depend on what you give him this year for Father’s Day, but it can add a measure of joy regardless. Make such gifts annual expressions of your love and respect and gratitude for fathering you.

And here’s an idea: In the week leading up to Father’s Day, try out each of the 9 suggestions.

You just may add to your dad’s happiness on Father’s Day … and to your own happiness as well.

What gifts have you received from your kids that gave you the most joy?

  • Or what gifts have you given that made you the happiest?
  • Have you ever tried any of the suggestions above?
  • How did they work out?
  • I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments!
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