Alright, so this is Racheal Jackson’s partner, Garrett. Rach wanted me to put together a gift guide for Father’s day because I am a father and because most of the gift guides out there are for like a very specific type of dad.
When I was a kid, I saw an ad for a grill on TV and the narrator was like, “THE PERFECT GIFT FOR FATHER’S DAY.” Naturally, I pressured my mom into buying my dad a grill for Father’s Day. My dad saw it and looked at me very seriously and said, “Have you ever, even once, seen me grill?” It was that moment that I realized my dad didn’t cook food. Ever.
Yup. Backfired big time.
Men aren’t a monolith. I really enjoy cooking, unlike my dad. Rach showed me a couple of gift guides and there was a lot of the same stuff you’d expect. Hopefully, this gives you some outside of the box or alternative gift ideas.
There is nothing greater than a good book. And good books come in a lot of forms. Here’s a list of some of my favorite books from the last few years:
- March – The story of the civil rights movement from the perspective of John Lewis in a graphic novel
- The Devil in the White City – Non-fiction retelling of the two worlds being created side by side: a utopia at the Chicago World’s Fair and a hell created by H.H. Holmes the serial killer
- Dune – Nothing is quite as cool as this sci-fi original and with the movie on the horizon, it’s a great time to read or revisit Arakkis
- Showa 1926-1939 – For the history buff who thinks they know it all, this graphic novel biography is from a Japanese perspective of the events leading up to World War II
- Watchmen – You can’t go wrong with one of the greatest graphic novels of all time
- The Stand – I know it’s about a pandemic and we’re in the middle of a pandemic, but this is an incredible book
I do not believe there is a single greater gift in this world than a board game. Board games force you to sit down and interact with each other. We are big believers in competition in our home and board games give us a good opportunity to talk about being a good sport and to also trash talk each other throughout the week. We mostly do the latter.
Azul for The OCD Dad
You ever notice the dad in your life reorganizing a drawer, re-shelving books, or video games to get it looking just right? Then have I got a game for you <cheesy car salesman grin>.
Azul is a pattern-making board game that plays a lot like a competitive Tetris. You and up to four other people draw from a pool of tiles to build patterns. This game can get pretty cutthroat and has a lot of replay value. We play this almost every family board game night because it’s easy to teach, but has enough depth to be fun after the 800th time.
Already have Azul? Two others that are similar and just as great are Sagrada (stained-glass making 4 player board game) and Patchwork (quilt-making 2 player board game).
Lords of Waterdeep for the Quest Seeking Diaper-Changer
Truth be told, I haven’t ever finished a campaign of Dungeons & Dragons. Even though I love long-form board games, as a parent, it’s just not realistic to think that you and your spouse or friends are going to have three uninterrupted hours of board game time. Diapers need changing. But what kind of life is that for an adventurer?!
Lords of Waterdeep isn’t a role-playing game, but lets you collect adventurers and send them on quests. You get the satisfaction of completing quests without having to use your imagination and it can be played in under an hour. The game takes very little to teach and it plays up to 5 people. This game is very competitive and has left many family members in long-term rivalries. It’s healthy, I swear.
Already have Lords of Waterdeep? I highly recommend Five Tribes (a nomad-meeple collecting 4 player board game) and Carcasonne (a meeple and tile placement 4 player board game) as alternatives.
Skull King for the Late-Night Card Shark Dad
Most of my memories growing up are playing cards late at night with my parents. We played a lot of Rummy and O’ Heck which I’m pretty sure was the G-rated name (at least in our household). All Grandpa Beck games have this feeling to me. They are games that you can sit down and play right before bed, talk about any other topic, and still have a great time.
Skull King is by far my favorite of Grandpa Beck’s games. It’s an advanced O’ Heck or a trick/bidding game. Bid on how many tricks you think you’ll take. Get it right and you get points. Skull King adds a variety of incredibly fun specialized cards that change the gameplay. The Skull King Legendary Expansion does even more adding tons of twists and turns to an otherwise simple and straightforward game.
Already have Skull King? Try Pandora’s Box (golf style variant 4 player card game), Cover Your Assets (5 player fast-paced matching card game), or Monopoly Deal (the only version of Monopoly that doesn’t suck).
One Night Ultimate Werewolf for the Dad Who Thinks They Are Smarter Than Everyone
This game took over our life for 4-5 weeks. We played every single night and talked about the game throughout the day. I never liked the game Mafia in high school or college. But One Night Ultimate Werewolf takes that formula and makes it so incredibly fun.
Every person is assigned a role. At night, when eyes are closed, a werewolf kills. As I said, Werewolf does incredible work though because you can reason and use logic to figure out what might have happened or to create a strong alibi to protect yourself. The variety of cards make it so the game is fresh almost every time.
Already played One Night Ultimate Werewolf? Some others that play the same that we love are Escape from the Aliens from Outer Space (prey and hunter map grid board game) and Sheriff of Nottingham (5 player bluffing game).
Nothing says “me time” like a video game. While there are a variety of big-name games out there that are going to cost you $50 minimum, there are a ton of indie games and small developer games that are perfect for the dad in you life that only has limited time to play. Plus, if they want one of those big games, they are probably already going to buy that for themselves.
Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality
This deal is only available for the next four days. If your husband/father plays games on PC/Mac, this is an incredible deal and supports racial justice and equality. There are over 700 games/projects in the Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality and you pay what you can. All proceeds will be donated to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and Community Bail Fund split 50/50. This bundle includes some of the games I’m going to recommend.
Night In The Woods for the Existential Dad
Racheal knows that most of my life is spent in an existential crisis. I’m always spending time wondering about my purpose and reorienting my perspective. I’m a perpetual college student that way. Sometimes, you just need someone to sit through that feeling with you.
Night In The Woods gave me that connection. You are a college dropout returning to your small, economically struggling home town. The friendships you rekindle with your high school friends and seeing how they and you have changed is deeply meaningful and true to life. The game is also witty af.
Celeste for the Platforming God-Dad
Yes, I am the dad that will boot up the old Mario games just to show off my skills. What’s that? Clear world one in like 10 minutes. No problem.
Celeste is the toughest platformer I’ve ever played. Platformers are games where you essentially jump from place to place and try not to get hurt by spikes or bad guys—like Mario. The game can be incredibly punishing, but every time you fail, you just want to take another shot at that same section of the game. The storyline also helps with this as the game focuses on depression, anxiety, and self-confidence. I come back to this one over and over again.
Outer Wilds for Conspiracy Theory/Trekkie Dad
I used to sneak downstairs and watch Star Trek with my dad. I loved how every episode they’d encounter something different and they’d walk into the middle of a story and have to figure out what was happening.
Outer Wilds is a beautiful space exploration game. You are stuck in a time-loop and only have a few minutes to navigate your spaceship out into the solar system, investigate planets, ruins, and ancient records to piece together a story and solve the mysteries of the ancient people before you. It’s a gorgeous game.
Journey for Dad’s Who Can Only Play At Nap Time
Okay, maybe this is a more specific, Playstation only game, but I have to say something about it. Journey is one of the best games I’ve ever played.
To not give anything away, in the game Journey… you are a being on a journey. Shocking, right? You must walk towards a mountain in the distance. My 3-year old had a hard time taking naps, so he’d watch me play this until he fell asleep. It was peaceful and mesmerizing. He’d fall asleep and I would be sitting there relaxed, crying, and deeply moved. It’s a win-win.
Towerfall for the Family Tournament Dad
My teen years were filled with a lot of late-night Super Smash Bros. and Goldeneye contests. I don’t think I could ever show this older games to my kids because the graphics are almost unbearable now. But the feeling of playing a round against each other again and again has been completely rekindled by some newer games.
Towerfall is a multiplayer battle game. It’s simple. You can jump, dash, and shoot your bow. That’s it. The mechanics are so easy that every one of our kids, even the 3-year old, can play. But getting good at your timing and showing off your skills gives the game a ton of replay. The game is so fun that we’ve logged tons of hours on it with our kids and extended family.
Apple Arcade for the Super Pooper Dad
Don’t have a video game console? Smart phones have a lot of games—but most of them are garbage. You can only play Candy Crush for so long before you lose part of your soul. It is quite literally, a horcrux.
Apple Arcade is $5/month and gives you access to hundreds of high-caliber games. Sign the dad in your life up for it and let them download and test out games to their heart’s content. It’s great for sitting on the toilet which is what we know most dads do for 97.4% of their lives. Might as well be playing something good!
Here’s some super fast recommendations:
- Cards of Darkness
- Assemble with Care
- Lego Builders
- Sayonara Wild Hearts
Now, most gift guides are going to tell you that your particular dad wants something out of Sharper Image. Like, a back-rubbing massage chair that has 10 cupholders and speakers in the headrest. Nope. They don’t want that. If they do, don’t give it to them.
There is no such thing as too many headphones. For example, right now, I’m using my sound-canceling ones to block out the sound of Racheal sanding down a door about 15 feet away. Am I annoyed? Not at all. BECAUSE I HAVE HEADPHONES. An hour ago, I was wearing AirPod style headphones because I needed to hear the kids while I was cleaning. See?! You can’t ever have enough. Here are a couple recommendations:
- Sony Sound-Canceling Headphones for focus, work or hiding from the kids
- AirPods for projecting and doing work around the house – easy to remove to talk to you or the kids
- Jaybird Headphones for running/jogging and hiking
I would never say no to new speakers. I love having good quality sound throughout my house. Don’t settle for listening to your music on an Alexa or Google Home all the time. Getting good speakers for listening to music or to extend the sound quality of your TV can make a world of difference.
- Bose Mini Soundlink – this thing has been my constant companion for years and I can take it everywhere
- Sonos Speaker – for building a true home sound system that will deliver the best sound quality
- Sonos Soundbar – sound is what makes movies feel larger than life
Even though these gifts can come off as passive aggressive comments on the state of your personal hygiene, I think most men just usually don’t spend money on themselves. I know that I went years without getting an electric razor because it was too expensive. Years of razor burn was suffered for nothing.
- Braun Electric Razor – I love this thing, has saved my life
- New razor heads – this is such a simple gesture, but because they can be pricey, it gets overlooked
- Shower Speaker – can’t get him to bathe? Put this in a shower, queue up a podcast and voila, clean father-figure
U-Turn Audio Turntable
Does the dad in your life have an incredible record collection or do they wish they were the kind of guy who had an incredible record collection? Have they talked about how bad they want to get into collecting vinyls? Make this their year. I love the turntables from U-Turn Audio for their design and quality. You can stream the audio to your Bluetooth speakers or use analog too.
Don’t forget that along with this to get them some vinyls! Buy a couple albums from their favorite artist and sit there and listen to them with them all the way through. That’s true love.
Okay, so this might be a little unexciting, but subscriptions and memberships are such a nice thing. They give us access to new experiences and things we can share together. They also help us feel like we are part of something much bigger. Here are a couple of recommendations:
- Equal Justice Initiative Monthly Contributions – Make a monthly pledge and give this cause the support and attention it needs
- NPR Sustaining Member – Pledge a monthly contribution to your local member station
- ACLU Membership – Give a monthly contribution to support the protection of civil rights
- Spotify Premium – If your spouse is using the ad version, it’s time to upgrade.
- HBO Max – You can finally catch up on shows like Barry, Westworld, and His Dark Materials AND you can watch the entire Studio Ghibli library with your kids
- Hulu Plus – Get an ad-free subscription so you can watch great shows like Killing Eve, Atlanta, and recent movie releases
- Criterion Channel – Got a film buff in the family? Sign them up so they can finally catch all the movies they’ve had on their bucket list
The Simple Things
Father’s Day usually isn’t extravagant in our household. Obviously, breakfast in bed, cards, sincere love notes, a slideshow of memories, all of those things are so much more important than anything you could buy. But here are some little things you can do that won’t cost an arm and a leg:
- Repair Something They Love – Racheal repaired my favorite pair of shoes twice and it was the nicest gift I’ve ever received
- Weekend Away – Set a weekend to be away from the kids at a location even if it’s in the far future, it’s still something to look forward to
- Enjoy Something They Love – I appreciate so much when Racheal goes out of her way to enjoy something that I won’t shut up about. Been putting off watching Westworld, reading Watchmen, or playing Breath of the Wild? Show them you care with a small gesture like this.
- That One Repair/Cleaning Thing – You know that one thing that you always say you’ll take care of? It could be caulking the tub, deep cleaning the fridge/dishwasher, or painting that one corner. Whatever it is, we all have them. Taking care of these things is a really nice gesture.
Happy Father’s Day to you and your family! I hope that this gave you some ideas!
Not a freaking necktie or bbq implement in sight! I think it’s the best guy gift guide ever. Bookmarking 😍
Hands down, best dad gift guide I’ve seen and my husband has been a dad for 19 years.
The shower speaker description was hilarious. Thanks!
Excellent gift guide! Just bought two of the games because we love playing games together as a family.
Seriously the best Father’s Day gift guide I’ve read in YEARS. Thank you!
This is such a good gift guide! Board games really are such a fun present to receive