It’s Not Ties and Shirts: What Dads Really Want for Father’s Day


Father’s Day is fast approaching. As a stay-at-home-dad, I almost wrote a two sentence blog post that went like this:

“If the guy you’re honoring this Father’s Day is a stay-at-home-dad, just read last year’s Mother’s Day article. That’s it–enjoy your summer!”

But as the lone dad writing for the Columbus Moms Blog, I think can provide a little more insight when it comes to Father’s Day.

To start, while I know my wardrobe could certainly use an update, Father’s Day isn’t the holiday for new shirts and ties. I also have every gadget and trinket I want, so tech gifts are out. I’ve never been a breakfast-in-bed kind of guy–I always just envision this happening. (After watching that video, I don’t want to sleep in, either.)

So what do I, the CMB Dad, want for Father’s Day?

1. Balance the time

Let’s spend some of the day together and some of the day apart. I don’t want to leave everyone for a long day of fishing or golf, but I do want a decent chunk of time to myself. I miss reading and enjoying a slow cup of coffee. But I also love being with my kids out-and-about, watching them have fun, smile, and enjoy themselves.

Plan a morning trip to something Dad is interested in. Whether it’s a museum, a hike, a street fair, or a food tour, a morning trip together should keep everyone happy and entertained. We can go out early for donuts, have some fun for a few hours, and come back for a late lunch.

If the kids are little, just do something fun for them. Like I said, I enjoy being with my kids as they play around somewhere new. I’d enjoy going to a children’s museum or dairy farm for the morning, just to watch my kids have some fun.

Build in one unique food stop–a local ice cream shop or top-rated taco stand. Nothing fancy or involved, just a local favorite, a quick stop. Curating the day’s food just a bit will make the trip a little more special.

With a morning of activity in the books, everyone should be tired in time to give Dad a little alone time. I’m not suggesting four or five hours, just an hour or two uninterrupted to do whatever I’d like. Maybe I’ll read in bed, maybe I’ll watch a movie I haven’t seen in a long time. Maybe I’ll just go for a walk or play with my camera.

In fact, this would be the perfect time to make any homemade craft gift that was planned. I like the handprint, finger-painted, family-fun gifts a lot, actually. So rather than stress yourself about making things in secret, use the Daddy Downtime to craft with the kids. Then you can end the downtime with a homemade gift reveal.

A little bit of downtime for Dad can be a real gift. Find a way to balance the time on Father’s Day. Do something as a family, but also give Dad some time to himself.

2. Start a subscription

Find a subscription service that Dad would enjoy. Maybe he’s a coffee lover–find a local coffee roaster who offers a once-a-month coffee club. (Here’s a local roaster with a coffee club. This link might help, too.) The same goes for beer, wine, and food, of course. (Me, I’d prefer a beer subscription, maybe from this link.)

Not into food and drink? How about a magazine subscription for a favorite hobby? Or maybe a subscription to something Dad gave up as his free-time dwindled. Before kids, I used to subscribe to the Sunday New York Times. I also had sports and car magazine subscriptions. As a teenager, my dad and I used to love reading Car & Driver. We’d fawn over the supercars, and we always loved seeing one of our cars reviewed.

These days, you can subscribe to just about anything. Find something that’ll be a welcome treat or diversion for Dad. An ongoing gift is a great way to spread the Father’s Day love throughout the year.

If you do a subscription, have the first issue, six-pack, or whatever ready for Father’s Day. That way, Dad can enjoy it during that alone time you’re building into the day.

3. The special Father’s Day meal

My guess is that everyone read the blog post this year about Mother’s Day brunch that traveled around social media. I’m sure many Dad’s feel the same way about Father’s Day meals. This year, let’s keep things simple and just order take-out from Dad’s favorite restaurant. That way, the food is exactly what dad wants, but there’s a way to escape the inevitable race-to-the-finish-line of eating out with young kids.

Okay, if you’re kids are older, then maybe you can actually go to the restaurant. But my kids are two and four, so let’s just eat at home. If the kids need to, they can leave the table while I stay and enjoy myself.

When it comes to the food, make sure it’s the place Dad likes but never really gets to go to because it’s, you know, a “dad” place. I love BBQ–ribs, please, and pulled pork and brisket and just any smoked meats and sides, thank you. But we hardly go for BBQ. It’s not healthy, and the kids aren’t really into it. Granted, my wife has prolonged my life by years by substituting a soup or salad for a slab of ribs. But let’s do some BBQ on Father’s Day. Get me a rack of ribs, a few choice sides, and a cold drink, and I’ll be a happy dad.

To top it off, maybe a homemade baked good? A tray of fudgy, gooey brownies?

In the end, I don’t want to dress up, I don’t want the kids to get antsy, I don’t want a Father’s Day spectacle. Let’s relax, eat my favorite food at home, and give ourselves an easy escape when the kids lose it.

(Bonus: the couch is much closer to the kitchen than it is to a restaurant.)

4. Enjoy an experience

This post has a bit of a trend. What I suggest for Father’s Day is more about experience and less about stuff. Dads don’t need more things. (Moms don’t need more things, either, right?)

For my last suggestion, consider getting Dad tickets to a special event–a concert, sporting event, movie series, comedian, lecturer, conference, brewery tour, you name it. (Okay, and while not a special event, I would love a day spent here. Who wouldn’t?) Whatever Dad is into, see if you can get him tickets to it.

Or sign Dad up for a class or private lessons for his hobby. Maybe there’s a local creative writing workshop or drawing class, maybe there’s a cooking course or lecture series at a museum? Maybe Dad has always wanted to dabble in photography? I know a guy (he wrote this blog post) that offers photography lessons.

With a series of lessons or classes, you not only give Dad an experience, but you afford him the time to cultivate something on his own.

To the moms out there, thank you in advance for not roaming the aisles of Kohl’s in search of a gift. To the dads out there, you’re welcome. And if you wouldn’t mind, you can send me one of your beer-of-the-month club six packs as a thank you. Happy Father’s Day!