I'm not buying him socks!
May 14, 2010 12:58 PM   Subscribe

Help me come up with a fantastic birthday present for my father!

I always have trouble coming up with good gift ideas for my dad since he usually buys himself anything he needs or wants. Here’s a little info about him:

-He’s going to be 58.
-He already has lots of gadgets (Blackberry, iPod, GPS, electric razor, nice stereo, etc.) but is technologically challenged and has trouble using many of these devices. For example, he has no idea how to and no interest in learning to text message, and he had to have his iPod set up for him when he got it for Christmas.
-He has many interests, including horseback riding, golfing, hunting and fishing. He already has everything he needs for these activities, and then some.
-He loves the History Channel (especially WWII related shows) and old western movies. He already has nice collection of John Wayne films.
-He is self-employed and has a small office. He travels extensively across the country for his work.

I’ve tried to brainstorm ideas for something he might like. Last year I got him a nice roping bag personalized with his initials that he uses to keep his ropes in at the barn. The last thing I want to get him is something that will just end up being clutter in his backyard shed. When I ask him for gift ideas he says, “socks.” Help!
posted by gumtree to Grab Bag (29 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
What about food? My go-to dad gift the last several years has been a box of Omaha Steaks.
posted by something something at 1:00 PM on May 14, 2010

If he has a nice stereo system setup and doesn't know how to use it, maybe a pre-set-up Harmony Remote? They're like magic for complicated home theaters.

If he flies a lot, the new Bose QuietComfort headphones are eerily, unsettlingly good at canceling noise. I know Bose sometimes gets a reputation as being ads over substance, but those headphones are really something. I've seen them available to try at Apple stores and Best Buys before.
posted by pocams at 1:03 PM on May 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

What about books? You could get him one book on each of his hobbies: riding, golf, hunting, fishing, gadgets, World War II, westerns, etc.
posted by ocherdraco at 1:04 PM on May 14, 2010

A few years ago I Photoshopped my technically-clueless dad into a picture of Frank, Dean, and Sammy, put it in a nice frame and gave it to him for Christmas. It totally blew his mind. Perhaps you could do something similar with his favorite golf pro or General Patton or something.
posted by bondcliff at 1:08 PM on May 14, 2010

He already has nice collection of John Wayne films.

Start moving on to Clint Eastwood.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:09 PM on May 14, 2010

(I did the same thing for my mom with a picture of Pope JP2, if that's more your dad's thing. Her priest got a big kick out of it.)
posted by bondcliff at 1:09 PM on May 14, 2010

Netflix subscription?
posted by sswiller at 1:13 PM on May 14, 2010

Heavy duty travel kit or travel bag?
posted by kellyblah at 1:15 PM on May 14, 2010

My Dad loves westerns and WWII dramas as well. Perhaps your Dad would like one of my Dad's favourite movies: Utu.
posted by LN at 1:16 PM on May 14, 2010

make him something.

buy him a tree & plant it with him.

book of hunting stories. De Shootinest Gent'Man: And Other Tales

Robert Raurke "The Old Man & the Boy"

If he hunts ducks, one cannot go wrong with another duck call - perhaps one with an instructional tape or cd. duck hunting stories are the best

subscription to Gray's Sporting Journal

Hunting hat, like the Stormy Kromer!

Take him clay pigeon shooting, have him show you how to do it, then buy him lunch & a nice cigar.
posted by bricksNmortar at 1:17 PM on May 14, 2010

When I ask him for gift ideas he says, “socks.”

You could get him a really nice pair of merino wool socks, they've changed my life and they're not the kind of thing you buy yourself.
posted by 2bucksplus at 1:18 PM on May 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

He asked for socks, so get him socks. If this was my dad I'd go online and find a huge assortment (15-20) of fun and crazy socks as well as a few super comfortable ones. Sock Dreams has some really fun ones. I've heard that cashmere socks are really comfy. If you really want to get him something your sure he'll like just get what he asked for.

If he doesn't like them then in the future maybe he'll give you a better answer.
posted by TooFewShoes at 1:18 PM on May 14, 2010 [3 favorites]

On re-read, you know, socks might not actually be a bad idea. Nice, lovely woolen socks will keep him warm when he's out in the woods or on the water, and won't chafe if he's hiking or doing a lot of walking.
posted by LN at 1:20 PM on May 14, 2010

(Took the liberty of looking up your location). . .how about a skydive, if he's in your area? A memory for the rest of his life!
posted by Danf at 1:21 PM on May 14, 2010

Thirding good socks. Or a thought-out, handwritten letter telling him how important he is to you. The perfect gift for the guy that has all the stuff he needs probably isn't more stuff. A trip to a museum or a nice dinner, some sort of experience would probably also be appreciated.
posted by craven_morhead at 1:21 PM on May 14, 2010

I'm not 58 yet, but some of my best friends are. Some have SOs in their lives, some don't; some have kids that are still hanging around at home, some have kids that have finally gotten the hell out, some have no kids. This is what everyone of them wants:

Two weeks in a cabin in the woods (for one it would be in a suite in a NY hotel, but most would prefer the woods, even though they aren't outdoors men at all.) During those two weeks there would be a slow stream of visitors, the SO, the kids, all for only a day or two and only one at a time. At least seven days should be solitude and a big stack of books, the visits should allow lots of real conversation, not watching the kids play video games.

Perhaps I'm projecting my wish onto my friends but I don't think so; I've seen the faces of all of them when I mention it.

Do you have lots of money? Do you have the magic it takes for middle aged men to find a solid two weeks off with anxiety about what is landing on their desk while they are away? If not maybe you could make adjustments to the plan. A walk in the park that is long enough for him to convince him you want to hear what he says and are will answer his slightly unreasonable questions.

Or a bottle of Scotch and a CD would be nice too.
posted by Some1 at 1:31 PM on May 14, 2010 [2 favorites]

Dad and I went to NASCAR driving school together. Years later he still says it was the best present he ever received.
posted by 26.2 at 1:31 PM on May 14, 2010

A Kindle, since he travels a lot? You don't need any technical skills to use one.
posted by The corpse in the library at 1:37 PM on May 14, 2010

Response by poster: Great ideas so far!

Books and cigars are usually my go-to gifts for him. We both appreciate Eastwood movies, so that's a possibility. I am clueless about Photoshop. That Stormy Kromer hat looks like a hat he has and loves--I will have to remember that for Christmas. He went skydiving last summer with my brother.

I think socks would be a funny joke gift, so any suggestions for a really nice brand of socks?

Right now I'm looking into activities that we could do together (like shooting clay pigeons, going to the museum, going to dinner, etc.) because although we have lots of shared interests like horseback riding, we just don't spend a lot of time together one-on-one.
posted by gumtree at 1:38 PM on May 14, 2010

Your dad sounds a lot like mine. I don't have a specific suggestion for you, but we've gotten my dad presents from The History Channel store and the National Geographic Store, with great success.

WWII reissued clothing/canteens/compasses/anything else have been especially well received, as they combine his love of the outdoors with his love of history.
posted by chatongriffes at 1:38 PM on May 14, 2010

Smartwool socks are the best socks available. I no longer wear any other kind of sock, ever.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 1:41 PM on May 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

Has he seen WWII in HD [History Channel link, Amazon link]? My dad [who'll be 57 this year] and I sat and watched several episodes together when it first aired and months later, he's still talking about how we should do that again. Maybe buy him a copy, and then visit him to watch parts of it when you get a chance?
posted by alynnk at 1:42 PM on May 14, 2010

My sister & I have gotten our dad a subscription to a beer of the (every other) month club. (We can't afford every month!) It's been awesome -- I think they send 12 microbrews every other month for a year.
posted by oh really at 2:03 PM on May 14, 2010

I agree with jeff-o-matic. There are socks and there are socks. I returned a gift to REI and spent a good part of my credit on socks. Luxury socks that I would not normally buy myself. It feels decadent to purchase $10.00 socks but they are a much appreciated gift.

I bought both Smartwool (yes they are that awesome) and WigWam socks that are part wool and part silk. I think as we get older we want less stuff, but warm, comfortable feet are always welcome.
posted by readery at 2:07 PM on May 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

When I ask him for gift ideas he says, “socks.”

You could buy him sooper dooper soft possum wool socks.

I'd also consider getting him a really decent pair of headphones if he's got an iPod.
posted by MuffinMan at 2:23 PM on May 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

You say that someone set his iPod up for him at Christmas. Why not borrow it from him, fill it with his favorite kind of music and movies/tv shows from the history channel and give it back to him?

I've done something similar for my dad in the past - although he's definitely fairly technologically astute (except with cellphones).
posted by sciencegeek at 2:29 PM on May 14, 2010

ThorLo socks make my feet happy; & they are currently on sale!
posted by easilyamused at 3:20 PM on May 14, 2010

Gifts that equal time with you. Whatever he is into, figure out at gift that involves the two of you sharing it. Tix to an event about smthg he cares about or a fishing outing even and especially if that's not what you are into.
posted by girlpublisher at 5:56 PM on May 14, 2010

If your dad surfs the web, this might work: I have an impossible-to-shop-for dad, and one year for a birthday got him a "blog from me." I just set up a wordpress blog where i posted things a few times per month all year that were specifically related to his interests-- "here's a really neat history website," "here's a site all about old westerns," etc. Like metafilter, but, y'know, DADFILTER. He loved it because it wasn't a "thing" he had to stash somewhere, it was something he could do (log on and check it every month, and see what was new). He commented on all the posts, so it was social for us as well-- we live on opposite coasts of the US-- and it was a chance for me to show him I love him and think his interests are cool. Good luck with your pop!
posted by neitheror at 6:29 PM on May 14, 2010 [8 favorites]

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