If you celebrate Father's Day, and need some ideas for last minute gifts that dad might enjoy, here are 15 options to choose from.
Father's Day has been called a "Hallmark holiday" that's fake and annoying, but with over 20 years as a father under my belt, I've come to really appreciate it as a time to be acknowledged for the role I play in my kids' lives. Honoring and acknowledging the dads in your life certainly doesn't require the giving of any presents, but it's a rare soul who doesn't appreciate a thoughtful gift, even if it's just a token of appreciation, so I thought I'd share some of the best green gift ideas based on things that I've either received or would enjoy receiving.
Refillable water bottle: Given the huge environmental burden posed by plastic water bottles and other single-use plastics, and the fact that no matter who we are and where we go, we're bound to get thirsty, a refillable water bottle can be a practical and eco-friendly Father's Day gift. I've used my 40 oz (1.18 liter) stainless steel water bottle for almost a decade now, and although there are certainly a number of other alternatives (BPA-free plastic or glass bottles), steel water bottles are almost indestructible. I recommend getting one with a wider mouth rather than a narrow mouth, because it's much easier to clean and can be easily filled with ice for those hot days.
Travel coffee mug/thermos: For similar reasons as the ones I mentioned above, I'm a big fan of reusable travel mugs, because we surely don't need to generate any more disposables on our planet if we can help it. I have a double-walled steel coffee mug with a lid that goes with me when I travel, which keeps my home-brewed coffee hot for a long time, and in the off chance that I go out for coffee, I don't have to be responsible for a single-use coffee cup. I also have a steel thermos bottle that I received as a gift one year, and it's got thousands of miles on it, both in the backcountry (pro dad tip: filling a thermos at night with hot water while camping is a great way to have warm wash water available for baby's diaper changes), on road trips, and in my daily life (having a thermos full of hot coffee or tea during an early morning kids soccer game is a beautiful thing).
A tree: Planting a tree for Father's Day is a great way to celebrate a dad's legacy, and while I prefer fruit or nut trees myself, a shade tree or two are equally awesome. Your local nursery can probably recommend the best varieties for your area, or consult your local Extension Service for appropriate choices for your climate and soil type.
Massage or yoga class gift certificate: Getting a massage from a professional massage therapist is a wonderful thing, and can help dad release some of his stress and body tension. I had never received a "real" massage until I got a gift certificate one year from my wife, and while it seemed a bit uncomfortable to me at first, it was a great experience, and I highly recommend it. The same goes for a yoga class, and because a single class or punchcard is really affordable, and a home yoga practice is essentially free afterward, this is a gift that can keep on giving for years to come.
Veggie, herb, or flower starts: A tray of assorted plant starts of dad's favorite vegetables or herbs can be an excellent option for an almost instant garden plot, especially if you've already got a garden bed or planters ready to go. I happen to love puttering around in the garden, and even though there are tangible benefits to having a garden (food!), the intangibles are almost as great, because my garden time serves as my mental health break and is a fulfilling way to step away from the mad mad world for a little while each day.
Mushroom growing kit: A self-contained mushroom kit is a perfect gift for fungi-loving fathers that would enjoy harvesting their own shiitakes or oyster mushrooms, and could be a great gateway gift to getting started in mushroom culture. The mushroom kits that are commonly available on the market are affordable, almost dummy-proof, ready to go right out of the box, and don't take up very much space at all.
Compost tumbler or worm composting bin: For the green-thumbed dad (or the dad who really wants to be a better gardener), a compost bin or tumbler or an indoor worm composting bin can be a good gift that can help him build soil and reduce household waste at the same time.
Printed photos: The advent of the smartphone and cloud-based photo apps has been great for us to collect thousands of images of our favorite things, but there's something about a physical print of a picture, which can be put into a wallet or hung on a wall or propped on a desk, that makes it special to receive. I especially enjoy the photos of me with my kids when they were just babies or toddlers, as well as the ones of our whole family, as they help put things in perspective when I'm struggling with something difficult, and serve as a great reminder of what's important in my life.
Hammock: Relaxing in a hammock under a shady tree can be a rejuvenating treat on a hot day, and snuggling up to your little ones while swinging in the breeze is a beautiful part of fatherhood. Not every hammock is big enough for more than one person (however, solo hammocks are great for getting some alone-time), but the larger models with spreader bars on the end can be a great place to cuddle with kids or your partner and just watch the clouds go by.
Old-school shaving kit: If dad uses an electric razor or disposables, an old-school double-edged safety razor can be a welcome change in his grooming routine, even if he only uses it some of the time. Add in a box of extra razor blades, a shaving bowl or mug (thrift stores and garage sales are great sources for these), and a brush for applying shaving cream, and he's now got a retro shaving kit that can last for decades (well, other than buying new razor blades). I like the Merkur brand safety razors, but there are plenty of other quality models on the market, and I have found that the Feather brand blades are long-lasting and incredibly sharp.
Solar gadget charger: If dad is a gadget-lover, and is always running out of juice, a solar charger and backup battery pack can be a great gift. Be sure to select a model that is appropriately sized to the devices he uses all the time (a small charger and battery pack will probably not help very much if he really needs to charge a tablet or other large device). I recommend looking at the Goal Zero line (reliable, powerful, and proven track record), the SunJack (powerful and compact), or the SolPro Helios (smallest, fits into a pocket).
Solar oven: Also in the solar-powered line of Father's Day gifts, a solar oven can be a great option for the dad who enjoys cooking out, and while the traditional sun oven design is widely available, the latest high-tech versions from GoSun are said to be well worth the money. These solar ovens and solar cookers can be used on the back deck, the front yard, or in a campsite off the grid, and could be a way to get dad to cook more of his tasty favorites more often.
Vintage tools: If the dad in your life is a handy guy who enjoys making or fixing things, the gift of
old vintage tools can be the perfect way to show you appreciate that part of his personality. I have a thing for old tools, because unless you're buying high-end contractor grade hand tools, they just don't make them like they used to. Flea markets, garage sales, and even thrift stores can be sources for these types of heirloom tools, but be choosy, because just because something looks old doesn't mean it's a quality tool. While tool booths at flea markets can be a bit pricier than garage sales, I've found that most of the people who run them are usually pretty trustworthy and can guide you in making a good purchase.
A handmade anything: Making a gift by hand is an excellent option, and I never tire of getting drawings, cards, and other artwork from my kids and wife. I'd rather have a handmade gift that someone spent time and energy making than almost any store-bought gift that was purchased just because of societal pressure to give a gift (although an electric car would be an exception to that...).
A tech-free family day or date: Spending quality time with loved ones, without the interruptions of gadgets and gizmos and schedules, is a meaningful experience, and some of the most memorable Father's Days are ones where we simply enjoy being together and connecting as a family or as a couple. It's free, it doesn't require any travel (unless you want to), it's always the right size and color, and it can be the perfect complement to any other Father's Day gift.