My husband has more fashion sense than me, but he also climbs 20-foot trees to trim dead branches. He bakes a mean cheesecake, but he can also build a king-sized platform bed in one afternoon. He regularly does laundry one-handed with a toddler on his hip, but he also loves watching hockey.
He defies all stereotypes, and I love him all the more for it.
But when it comes to Father’s Day gifts for my husband, the standard fare misses the mark. He hates beer, he doesn’t wear ties to work, and he doesn’t play golf.
If the fathers in your life don’t quite fit the stereotypical mold, check out this list of the absolute best Father’s Day gifts you can give. (Science says so!)
What You Won’t Find in This List
You can find a ton of ideas for adorable Father’s Day crafts and other DIY gifts, but the drawback to most of those gifts? Dad can’t really do much with them.
Crafts and DIY gifts tend not to be terribly practical – although they do win hands down on cuteness.
And then you have the store-bought gifts. The problem with new stuff is after a short while, it becomes old stuff. You get used to it, and it becomes part of your daily life.
The gifts that really stick with you (or in this case, stick with Dad) are the gifts of experience.
It’s counterintuitive that something like a physical object that you can keep for a long time doesn’t keep you as happy as long as a once-and-done experience does. Ironically, the fact that a material thing is ever present works against it, making it easier to adapt to. It fades into the background and becomes part of the new normal. But while the happiness from material purchases diminishes over time, experiences become an ingrained part of our identity.
15 Father’s Day Experience Gifts Every Dad Will Love
Not only will you make Dad’s day with these unique Father’s Day experience gifts, but his anticipation of the event will actually add to his happiness. Then long after the experience is over and done with, the adventure will become part of his regular storytelling repertoire. Even a less than perfect experience becomes an entertaining story for dear old Dad to tell for years to come.
Plus, this is an excellent starting point of gift ideas for any occasion, from Dad’s birthday to Christmas or just because.
Now, onto the best experience gifts for dad…
1. Build something together.
If he likes woodworking, find plans online for something you can build together as a bonding experience. For example, the kids and Dad could build a birdhouse together for a special Father’s Day experience. Or if he enjoys cooking, find an awesome new meal to try for dinner or a delicious dessert. Round up all the supplies you’ll need, then watch as your family works together to create something from scratch. As a supplement to this gift, consider giving one of these books to keep the projects going year-round:
- Dad’s Book of Awesome Projects†: From Stilts and Super-Hero Capes to Tinker Boxes and Seesaws, 25+ Fun Do-It-Yourself Projects for Families
- The Geek Dad’s Guide to Weekend Fun: Cool Hacks, Cutting-Edge Games, and More Awesome Projects for the Whole Family
- Handy Dad: 25 Awesome Projects for Dads and Kids
- Made by Dad: 67 Blueprints for Making Cool Stuff
- Maker Dad: Lunch Box Guitars, Antigravity Jars, and 22 Other Incredibly Cool Father-Daughter DIY Projects
- Or if Dad’s more comfortable in the kitchen, check out Dad’s Book of Awesome Recipes: From Sweet Candy Bacon to Cheesy Chicken Fingers, 100+ Recipes the Whole Family Will Enjoy.
To wrap this gift, get a big box, throw in a printed set of the project instructions (or one of the books above if that’s where it’s from), and all the supplies he’ll need.
2. Give him permission to play.
On family game nights, Dad often takes one for the team and forgoes his favorite game so that everyone else has a chance to play their favorite. So if Dad enjoys playing games, plan a special game night featuring his favorite games and snacks. He’ll get to spend time with the people he loves and play what he loves, too.
If you want to give him something he can unwrap to represent this experience gift, pick up a new game to surprise him with. My husband’s personal recommendations as a dad who loves board games:
- Forbidden Island for a cooperative game where you’ll all work together,
- 7 Wonders for the ultimate strategy game that takes just 30 to 40 minutes, and
- Cards Against Humanity Family Edition for a quick game that will make your whole family to collapse into giggles.
In fact, we love those games so much that we stock them in our family game store. Order from us here, and you’ll be supporting a family-owned business while also treating Dad to a fun new game!
If you’re looking for the best games for a big group, here are our top picks for family game night.
“Forbidden Island is great because unlike most games it teaches cooperation instead of competition – all the players must work together, using their different player skills, in order to get all the treasures before the island sinks. Either everyone wins or everyone loses. It is my new favorite game to play with my 9-year-old daughter!” – Mark
3. Send him back to school.
Has he been talking about boosting his photography skills? Honing his woodworking prowess? Find a class and get him signed up.
One year, I got my husband helicopter flying lessons, and talking about it still puts a smile on his face…years later!
4. Interview your kids.
Print this questionnaire and ask the kids all about Dad. Even the toughest of guys will have a hard time staying stoic when they open this present. (Note: You’ll find a version for “My Dad” and “My Stepdad,” depending on what fits your family best.)
5. Take him for a spin.
For guys who love cars, you can rent a fancy sports car for an hour or two so he can exercise his testosterone to its fullest potential. To wrap this present, you can get a miniature version of the car you rented and wrap that.
6. Give tickets.
Does the dad in your life have a favorite sport? Does he love live music? Or stand-up comedy? Get tickets to an event he’ll love, bring the family along, and you’ll have an experience gift for the whole crew.
7. Put together movie night in a box.
On our family movie nights, Dad’s picks usually get voted down. American Sniper isn’t exactly family friendly, and he hasn’t yet convinced us to watch Field of Dreams. Pick out a movie he’s been itching to watch, or grab an Amazon gift card for $5 to rent one. Then add some manly popcorn (white cheddar with sea salt?), his favorite type of drink, and a blanket for the whole family to snuggle under.
Need movie ideas? Check out the 10 Best Dad Movies for Family Movie Night.
8. Hunt for food.
What’s his favorite food in the whole world? If it’s steak, research the absolute best restaurant for steak within a 50-mile radius and take him there. Whether he loves barbecue, ice cream, or blueberry pie, find out where they make it the best, and take him (and the rest of the family) on an adventure to try it out.
9. Clean out the car.
I don’t mean wash the outside of the family vehicle, although that would be nice too. No, I mean clean out every spare LEGO, coffee stir stick, and wadded up napkin tucked in all the nooks and crannies of your car(s). I’m the worst about stuffing trash into the car door or seat back pocket and forgetting to clean it up. Most dads I know appreciate a tidy car interior, so take a few minutes to simply de-clutter. The bonus of this gift: You get a cleaner car, too!
10. Record interviews.
Sit down individually with each person in your family and use an app like Super Notes to record an interview. Ask the kids (and anyone else) to share their favorite memories and stories about Dad. This one works great for grandpas!
11. List your favorite memories.
Download this printable for sharing your favorite memories, wrap it, and you’ve got yourself a fantastic present for Dad. As an alternative, this sweet Father’s Day printable is the perfect last-minute gift from a child to Dad.
12. Make a mixed tape.
Pick a few songs that remind you of Dad and save them to a USB flash drive. This gift is super easy – just follow these step-by-step instructions for how to share a playlist.
13. Pamper him.
This experience gift is more traditionally suggested for women, but a lot of men love it too: get him a gift certificate for spa services. One of my husband’s favorite gifts of all time was when I surprised him with a gift certificate for a “manly” pedicure at a local spa. Along the same lines, you could get Dad a gift certificate for a waxing or a massage (make it a sports massage if he’s active).
14. Surprise him…again and again.
You can find a monthly subscription box for just about anything nowadays, and the experience of getting a surprise in the mail once a month keeps this gift from blending in like wallpaper like the typical store-bought gift.
One of my favorites is this fun coffee subscription box where Dad can sample new roasts and find a new favorite. Kind of like a beer or wine tasting – but with coffee and delivered straight to his door. If he prefers tea, they also have a tea-of-the-month club that I can personally recommend. To round out this gift, you can add an insulated mug like this heavy-duty tumbler available in colors like black, charcoal, olive green, red, and stainless steel. (My husband and I each have one of these tumblers, and they are super sturdy. We’ve both dropped ours several times, and they came out unscathed with no dents or even scratches to the paint!)
15. Take him on a trip.
Plan a visit to a nearby amusement park, theme park, water park, bowling alley, mini golf course, or anything else he’d enjoy. Or you can go all out and gift a vacation – a weekend getaway just for him or a trip for the whole family. To be fair, that’s a pricey gift, but the gift of a vacation is something he’ll remember for years, whereas any store-bought gift will quickly fade into the background and be forgotten. It’s just human nature!
To wrap this gift, you can type up the travel itinerary, print it, and wrap that. Or you can put together a slideshow of photos from the destination and flip through photos until he catches onto what the gift is!
Before you go, get my FREE cheat sheet: 75 Positive Phrases Every Child Needs to Hear
For more Father’s Day gift ideas, check out 12 Unique Father’s Day Gifts to Make Dad Laugh or for new dads, 9 Baby Must Haves That Make the Perfect Gifts for New Dads.
What ideas do you have for the best Father’s Day experience gifts? Share in a comment below!