Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.
Fact: Dads are the hardest to gift. (Actual fact: People spend, like, half of what they spend on Mother's Day when it's Dad's turn.) Father's Day is right around the corner—Sunday, to be exact—and we have a handful of ideas for all types of dads, sourced directly from our editors. After the jump, some of our most successful gifts for guys, be they multi-marathoners, "don't get me anything" types, or simple fans of a good steak.
Leslie Price, Racked National editor: "My dad is a structural engineer whose hobbies run along the lines of cement (he's created his own ecologically-friendly version composed partially of recycled newspaper pulped through a machine he built in our backyard). Growing up, we didn't have a ton of interests in common, but we were the only members of our family who enjoyed going skiing.
Recently, my dad told me he wanted to do another ski trip because soon he's going to be too old for it. On said ski trip, we decided to go out to dinner and I picked the restaurant. It was probably the most expensive one in town because yolo. At this point, I should note that my dad is extremely frugal and I, well, write a shopping blog. Before we even ordered, I told my dad I'd pay for the meal so he wouldn't worry about the cost. We had the best conversation that night that we've probably ever had, and it really made the trip for me. It was such a small gesture, but he seemed to really enjoy and appreciate it."
Jackie Goldstein, Vox Media director of operations: "I think it's safe to say that the vast majority of dads like steakhouses and the past few years, my sister and I have gone with my dad to a steakhouse he loves downtown for the timeless steakhouse spread: porterhouse, creamed spinach and potatoes. Earlier this year, after a few years of living in his Lower Manhattan apartment rent-free, I finally moved into my own home and this year I'll be creating a steakhouse meal for him at my place. Armed with a foolproof steak recipe from a friend who works at Gramercy Tavern and a cast-iron skillet ($33.31) I've been using a ton to get perfectly seasoned, I'm going to attempt to replicate a steakhouse dinner at home. Hopefully he appreciates this, and I'll certainly appreciate the significantly cheaper bill."
Jenny Berg, Racked Chicago editor:: "It's a family tradition to crave ice cream after every meal (especially, of course, in the summer). When I was a little girl, my dad and I used to summertime take joy rides with the top down, and end up at a local ice cream spot that made its own whipped cream (sans sugar, just how he likes it.) As it happens, Jeni's Ice Cream creates perfect ice-cream gift boxes. They ship out on dry ice, and you can pick your own mix of flavors, from options that include Riesling poached-pear sorbet and wild berry-lavender."
Tiffany Yannetta, Racked New York editor: "My dad is incredibly hard to buy for (a man can only have so many power tools and Home Depot gift cards), so Father's Day is always a challenge. I'm an only child, and we usually spend it together as a family, but one year my mom was out of town on a business trip, so I went to my parent's house and cooked my dad a steak. We ate dinner together and then watched TV on the couch. Before I left to go back home he told me that it was nice hanging out just one-on-one, and I realized that meant a lot more than buying him a drill he doesn't actually need.
My dad goes to the same Dunkin' Donuts in our town every day and orders the same exact thing, and the staff there knows (and loves) him. This year, I'm going to get there early in the morning and pay for his coffee, so that when he shows up it'll already be taken care of. It's a small gesture (that will be accompanied by a real present) but I know it'll impress him that I actually woke up before he did.
Other past season hits include a DIY calendar composed solely from pictures of our deceased pug."
Playing to His Interests
Danielle Directo-Meston, Racked Los Angeles associate editor: "My dad is pretty active; he claims he's hanging up his hardcore running shoes for good now that he's gotten more than a few LA Marathons under his belt, but he'll continue swimming, hiking biking and sneaking in a few 5Ks here and there (and putting my very non-active butt to shame). Other than the usual cute macaroni-framed photos of my four brothers and me, I think the best gift we've ever given him was the Road ID ($20). He wears is 24/7/365, so in addition to offering him peace-of-mind in the event the unthinkable happens, I think it's also a reminder of how much his five kiddos love their dear ol' dad."
Susie Kostaras, Racked Boston editor: "My dad's favorite earthly possession would be his library of 1,500 books scattered among our house of approximately the same square footage. He even once catalogued the collection, so you can tell him what you want to read and he will share its precise location. I may abuse my daughterly right to borrow, so one year I ordered him a custom "From the library of..." stamp through Neiman Marcus (similar, $26). Now when he sees titles I've swiped from his house in my apartment, he knows exactly where they came from. (He likes the stamp so much it's brought me the good karma of receiving some keeper books to start my own library.
Also: If you're dad is as shopping-averse yet style-conscious as mine, don't underestimate the power of accompanying him to the mall for an afternoon. I recommend Levi's as a good jumping off point."
Kristen Philipkoski, Racked San Francisco editor: "My dad loves beer, and once upon a time used to make his own with a homemade contraption that looked like it was out of the movie Brazil. So I just ordered him one of those beer-making kits ($40)."
Esther Hahn, Racked San Francisco associate editor: "I'm blessed with three fathers in my life and I've realized that the most successful gifts that I've given them in the past are clothes from Patagonia. My dad is always wearing his fleece and my father-in-law's golf bag is never without his Nine Trails jacket . This year, the presents are a new rain jacket for Dad, a vest for my father-in-law, and a running shirt for my godfather-in-law. And even if the round of golf with all the dads is the actual highlight of the day, the clothes will be nice keepsakes to remember this year's celebration."
Driely Schwartz, Racked photographer: "When I was in New Orleans last year I came across this hidden little record label that was selling all their archives in vinyl. At $10 per record, my boyfriend and I came home with random records that wound up being some of the most amazing music we'd heard in our lives. As a gift for my boyfriend, I called up the record store and made a deal with them to send an LP of their choice every month, like a record-of-the-month club. Every month he anxiously awaits his new vinyl, never knowing what they're going to send, which keeps him curious and excited."
Caitlin Petreycik, Racked New York features writer: "My dad's vinyl collection is his most prized possession, and holidays usually involve me trawling eBay for rare recordings (he has a list), or calling every record store in the tri-state area asking if they have, like, Johnny Cash's 1968 kazoo session at Mount Fuji. Which he really appreciates! But, there's no element of surprise.
So, this year I'm going to get him a USB Turntable (they convert vinyl into MP3s), so he can listen to his record collection anywhere. Crosley's version ($130) is the best-looking out of the ones I've seen online, but I'll probably go to B&H and see what they recommend."
Laura Gurfein, Racked New York associate editor:
"A couple years ago, I realized the family photos in my dad's office were old—like really old. I was worried people would come in and think they were pictures of his grandchildren and not his own kids! So I went through a bunch of family photos and picked out three: one with me and my siblings, another of my parents, and a third of all of us, on our last family vacation at Grand Teton National Park. I know it's a super simple idea (and cheap, for those of us on a budget), but it's something that my dad would never think of doing himself, and I know he really appreciated the gesture."
Adele Chapin, Racked DC editor: "I found a company in my hometown that will convert old tapes to DVD, so I rounded up some of the home movies from when my brother and I were little and had them put on DVD. They were on Betamax, not even VHS, so we could never watch them before. Now they are preserved for the ages! Of course it's hours of footage of babies toddling around in the backyard, not so exciting, but it's cool to see my dad and mom as young parents and for them to remember that time."
Kenzie Bryant, Racked National senior editor: "It's a rare thing when all three of my dad's children are in one place, so one year we made a plan to surprise him in our hometown. My bus was majorly delayed so I missed the big dinner, but I snuck in after he we was asleep and managed to be sitting at the kitchen table before he left for work in the morning. If your dad is like mine and actually means the don't-get-me-anything-I-just-want-to-hang-out-with-you thing, a bus ticket is a great present."
Natalie Alcala, Racked Los Angeles editor: "My dad lives solo in Portland, so my sisters and I rarely get to see him. A few years ago—before smartphones were really a thing—I bought him a digital photo keychain and filled it with fun images of our family. The thing only cost like 15 bucks, but he really loved it; he found comfort in the fact that anytime he was feeling lonely he could whip out the keychain and see all his loved ones smiling back at him."
· Barely Anyone Buys Actual Father's Day Presents: Report [Racked]
· Best Mother's Day Yet: 13 Inspiring Stories That Beat Bouquets [Racked]