Retirement gift for my dad?
May 16, 2009 6:15 PM   Subscribe

I'm in search of a retirement gift for my Dad, who literally has no interests/hobbies. And in fact could be considered a workaholic.

For Birthdays/Christmas/Father's day I've previously given him things like food and movie gift certificates and sometimes plants. Kinda generic. More recently I've started sending him books along the lines of "Things to do when you retire", to prepare him for the shock.

Thankfully, he seems to have started making the mental preparations, though his newest 'hobby' seems to be dating. Which, from what I gather, includes doing whatever the lady-of-the-moment wants to do. So, I'm not exactly sure what to do with that one.

Other info:

-He's in great health
-He's fairly well off financially
-Lives in a small-ish town in one of those red states that don't allow you to mail liquor across state lines
-Lives far enough away that I won't be visiting

I know. It's not much to go on. I'd particularly love ideas for some fun/wacky stuff (under, say, $150), because I think my Dad could really use some more fun in his life now. He's earned it!
posted by TwisterSister to Shopping (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Is there some project or goal-oriented hobby you could suggest that would allow him to do something similar, at least in spirit, to his work? In other words, whatever he found satisfying in his job--was it something to do with solving problems? creating things? connecting with people?--might he be able to apply those energies elsewhere? I don't have concrete suggestions because I don't know him, but I would think that for someone who devoted his whole life to his career, "fun" is going to mean something specific. I know too many workaholics who, when faced with "fun"--relaxing at home, going on vacation, watching a movie--just wish they were back at the office.

Alternatively, if he's in good health and well-off, does he have any interest in traveling? You could set him up with a bunch of guidebooks to different cities or something.
posted by Meg_Murry at 6:28 PM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

I'm close to retirement. For mother's day I was given a Nintento DS, which, in spite of my initial esitation, I now like very much. I play sudoku on it and other quick games.
posted by francesca too at 6:29 PM on May 16, 2009

into of the month club kind of thing...?
posted by HuronBob at 6:55 PM on May 16, 2009

He does not "have no interests," "literally" or otherwise. That's not true for any living, sentient human and certainly not for your dad.

I'd find out what causes he might support and make a donation to an appropriate charity in his name.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 6:55 PM on May 16, 2009

Have you asked him what he liked to do when he was younger?
posted by amtho at 7:09 PM on May 16, 2009

Seconding Amtho, find out what he liked to do before he threw himself into his work. Ask relatives, friends, someone who knew him in his youth, and see if there's anything that held his interest, that he's since been neglecting. Or something that you remember him trying to start when you were younger, but never finished due to lack of time. See how that translates into the modern world.
posted by Jon_Evil at 7:20 PM on May 16, 2009

Response by poster: Great ideas. I've actually had conversations with my dad about his youth, and the only stories I've heard revolve around him sneaking out of the house and getting drunk with his buddies. I've gathered from other family members that his even earlier childhood wasn't so rosy.

My parents got married/had children quite young, and ever since I was a kid the only thing my dad did was go to work, fix the car (to save money, not because he really enjoys car mechanics all that much), mow the lawn, and generally "be responsible". As in, taking care of household stuff even though he didn't like it.... because he had kids and a family to support.

As a family, we never went on vacation, and I definitely had to learn to make my own fun. I think my dad's biggest problem is that HE doesn't really know what he wants/likes to do, which he pretty much admits to.

Which is crazy problematic when it comes to meaningful gift giving.
posted by TwisterSister at 7:46 PM on May 16, 2009

check out adult ed classes offered by his town (usually Parks and Rec department) or community college. you might want to give him a catalog and gift certificate (or check) and let him pick what he wants to take.
posted by metahawk at 8:44 PM on May 16, 2009

Brewing beer?

Amazon sells the Mr. Beer Premium Edition Home Microbrewery System for 40 bucks.

From there he can branch out to more serious setups and more exotic brews. Brewing can also be social. There's beer competitions, he could be an entrant or even train to be a judge.
posted by codswallop at 8:59 PM on May 16, 2009

Ok, in his youth he would sneak out of the house to hang with his buddies. Was there a car involved? Would he enjoy building a model of said car? Maybe you could also make him a CD of whatever songs were popular when he was a teenager. Something to listen to while he's putting his model together. Of course if he's the type to tear his hair out at model building, you could just find a nice die-cast.

In general, though, I've found that for most people, something that reminds them of when they were young tends to go over well.
posted by dogmom at 9:01 PM on May 16, 2009

Find out if there are any classes he might enjoy and pay his tuition to attend. I've seen many newly retired people enjoying arts related classes, who previously had little or no exposure to any kind of art-making. In my area there are plenty of such opportunities, as there probably are in your Dad's...maybe an internet search could turn up something like this? It doesn't seem like he has no interests, he just needs to try some different things to see what they are.
posted by motown missile at 2:43 AM on May 17, 2009

Buy him some hosting and a domain name, and make him a resource DVD with html and graphics tutorials, some software and so on. Depending on what he worked with he might like to do a little freelance or consultancy, it might ease the transition.
posted by Iteki at 3:33 AM on May 17, 2009

My father likes bird-watching. He lives in the country. He bought a pair of binoculars, a guide book, and some bird feeders, and he's been doing it for years now. It doesn't even seem prissy to him, because he participates in the Audobon Society bird census, so he's also participating in something *important*. It makes gift-giving really easy, too: a better guide, another feeder. One year I really lucked out and found an authentic Audobon print in a junk shop and gave it to him.
posted by acrasis at 8:17 AM on May 17, 2009

Offer him any book he wants off this list.
posted by donpardo at 3:36 PM on May 17, 2009

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