Father’s Day Gifts for Even the Hardest-to-Buy-for Dad

A gray robe
Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by Parachute.

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For the past year, many dads—marooned at home with their kids—found themselves deep in the parenting weeds in a whole new way: making meals, overseeing baths, and negotiating conference calls while simultaneously supervising Zoom school for their kids. It hasn’t been easy. According to the American Psychological Association’s recent report “Stress in America: One Year Later, a New Wave of Pandemic Health Concerns,” 82 percent of dads said they could have used more emotional support than they received during quarantine. As a mom of four, I get it: Full-time parenthood is no joke. This Father’s Day, let’s acknowledge our dads, husbands, brothers, and friends, and all the ways they’ve stepped up to the plate, especially this past year.

For the Dad Who Loves Mornings

Whether he likes espresso, French press, or “regular” American coffee, the man you love will adore this sleek coffee maker (see: pandemic parenthood needs). And this soft, comfortable robe will make his mornings that much better.

For the Outdoorsy Dad

Some dads are outdoorsmen. Mine is not. We took a whitewater rafting camping trip back when I was in high school, and he barely came out of his tent. When he did, he was grumbling louder than the bears we feared were nearby. But if yours is of a different ilk, invest in an emergency tool kit and a top-of-the-line folding chair (also great for watching your kids’ or grandkids’ sporting events).

For the Man With a Green Thumb

Gardening outside isn’t always an option. But this compact herb garden fuels that passion and provides the rest of the family with fresh-smelling farm-to-table greenery in even the most urban setting.

For the Foodie Dad

Even those who don’t like cooking will be moved and inspired by chef Kwame Onwuachi’s memoir—he pulled himself out of poverty and drug dealing in the Bronx to become a chef for Thomas Keller at Per Se and then went on to open his own restaurant. Dads who love to cook will enjoy the book that much more. Pair the book with a spatula set—you can never have too many—and this amusing apron.

For the Athletic Dad

My husband, a sneaker connoisseur, rarely takes off his On Sneakers. He loves them for their extreme comfort—and because they’re stylish enough to wear while either jogging or heading to a restaurant for a night out. For true sneaker fiends, throw in the new beautifully designed book about Nike.

For the Music-Loving Dad

Make any man hum with joy by pairing a retro-looking Bluetooth speaker with Grammy Award–winning bass guitarist Victor Wooten’s new book.

For the Dad Who Loves History

These two new books by bestselling authors Daniel James Brown, author of The Boys in the Boat, and Malcolm Gladwell shine a light on lesser-known aspects of World War II: Japanese internment and the development of the Air Force and its bombs.

For the Man Who Loves to Travel

After 15 months inside, anywhere sounds better than home right now. Allow Dad to toss his old toiletries and gift him a fresh travel set, along with the late Anthony Bourdain’s travel book—it offers tips and insight into just about every place Dad could possibly want to go.

For the Dad Who Loves the Beach

I give my dad a bathing suit almost every year. I probably shouldn’t do that again, but I just might. Bathing suits are such crowd pleasers, and you can never have too many. These stylish but budget-conscious trunks look great paired with leather flip-flops. Throw in a quick-drying towel to round out the gift (laundry not included).

For the Storyteller

By sharing a blank notebook and a journal filled with helpful prompts, you’ll encourage the dad (or granddad) in your life to share stories you’ve never heard before—as well as the ones that never get old. Unlike, perhaps, your dad.

For the Guy Always Looking to Be a Better Dad

Dads can definitely use advice, but, like with directions, they’re often reluctant to ask for it. This well-written, concise book by a dad for dads offers input from athletes, businessmen, civic leaders, military veterans, and others on how to be a better parent—from not keeping score with your partner and teaching your kids that it’s OK to try and fail. Bruce Feiler’s more personal account of life lessons he’s gathered from his intimate circle of male friends is a nice bit of complementary reading.