Gift ideas for my boyfriend’s dad?
December 1, 2010 9:27 PM   Subscribe

Help me pick a great gift for my boyfriend’s dad. I’m spending Christmas Day with my partner’s family. They do a Kris Kringle for the adults, and I’ve drawn my partner’s father. I’ve only met him twice (the dad, not my partner). He seems lovely but I have absolutely no idea what to get him. I’ve asked my boyfriend of course, but he is not exactly brimming with ideas. Help!

Some details about the giftee: 70+, recently widowed (12 months), likes lawn bowls, enjoys a drink, one-time industrial chemist, retired maths teacher still involved in maths clubs and promoting maths in schools. Church-going Catholic. Likes to travel, quite adventurous and independent. Three children, two grandchildren, lives alone. Has a computer and is reasonably tech literate, but not that into gadgets/online stuff. Still has dial-up!

Added degrees of difficulty: I live in remote South Australia. The giftee lives about 1100km away in Melbourne. There is pretty limited shopping where I live. I can buy online and, if necessary, organise for it to be posted to another family member in Melbourne. I can wrap it when we arrive for Christmas. The Kris Kringle price limit is AUD $100.

And most importantly: He's a lovely bloke and I'd like to get him a great present!
posted by t0astie to Shopping (20 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Figure out what his favorite kind of drink is, then buy him a bottle of something nicer than he'd buy for himself.
posted by box at 9:31 PM on December 1, 2010 [5 favorites]

I've got to agree with box on this one... the other interests are, well, interesting, but trying to match a gift he would truly enjoy is a crap shoot, you could hit or miss by a mile...

however, a nice bottle, that he wouldn't buy for himself is a great gift (hint for my kids, get me some GOOD wine!)....

Or, a really great graphing calculator, with permission to regift it to a kid that really needs one.
posted by HuronBob at 9:41 PM on December 1, 2010

I think middle-aged guys are the easiest people to get gifts for of anybody. Besides the booze, you can always get them a good-quality piece of leathergoods or a nice heavy keychain or something. No grown man, except those who pathologically despise any kind of luxury or frivolity, isn't happy to own some nice small thing with weight and function and pleasing design, and almost nobody ever buys them for themselves unless they're crazy rich and idle. And you can always get something that has the look of high-end craftmanship for less than $100. A Tiffany keychain is a good example of what I'm talking about.
posted by Antexit at 9:59 PM on December 1, 2010

Oh, I just saw his age-- sorry, I wrote thinking he was a younger guy. I'd be at loose ends buying a gift for a guy I don't know in his 70s too. How about a Kindle full of military thrillers or whatever those guys like to read?
posted by Antexit at 10:07 PM on December 1, 2010

If he likes a drink, a great bottle of his choice of alcohol and a wonderful drinking glass to go with that. Peters of Kensington has lots of amazing drinkware at good prices. I would do a decanter and a nice glass, something that would last long after the bottle has been enjoyed. Peters of Kensington can deliver to the house in Melbourne!

Some decanters here.

If wine is his thing, get him a set of great wine glasses, if it's liquor, get him a tumbler.

A great first gift for your partner's father could also be a wonderful photo of his children/family/grandchildren (you get the idea), printed up fantastically, enlarged, and in a gorgeous photo frame (ask your boyfriend for help with colours to suit his house, but a dark wood is classic). This is affordable, sentimental, and always wonderful to receive. Your local Officeworks will be able to print any photo up well, or your local camera store. Several options online, too. The above Peters of Kensington has good photoframes too. This is what i'm planning for my boyfriend's parents at our first Christmas together - a photo of her 2 sons.

I know a man in his 70s who loves lawn bowls and would love a team shirt/jersey (i'm not sure what they're called). Many of the seniors don't buy them as they're a bit pricey. You could find this out easily!

My mum likes to travel and she has appreciated: a truly lightweight travel scarf, a dual-time watch, a travel wallet that could hold all her documents and zipped up to prevent things falling out, and a truly good roller bar (which is a bit hard under $100).

Good luck!
posted by shazzam! at 10:13 PM on December 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

How about a nice portable radio or CD player? Or a small digital camera (although that is probably more than AUD $100.) Noise-canceling headphones for travel? A new carry-on bag for travel?
posted by barnone at 10:21 PM on December 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: A nice bottle of Whiskey, if the man drinks Whiskey. A good bottle of booze is always a solid gift- It's something we love to have but rarely think to buy for ourselves given the cost.
posted by GilloD at 10:27 PM on December 1, 2010

if he's the charitable type, and i suspect he might be if he volunteers at schools and attends church, And if he's financially okay, you could donate the money to a cause that resonates with him like the church or the school or the lawn bowls club etc.
happy christmas!
posted by MT at 10:45 PM on December 1, 2010

And, since it hasn't been said... good for you for being thoughtful about this... trust that you'll make the right decision...

and, the best gift will be your pleasant attendance at that event.
posted by HuronBob at 10:49 PM on December 1, 2010

Best answer: i've found that father's love when their son's girlfriend/wife gets them a nice bottle of booze. it might be ageist and sexist, but it also happens to be true.
posted by nadawi at 10:55 PM on December 1, 2010

Best answer: If he is central enough in Melbourne, and fit enough for a few hours of gentle exercise, consider buying him some historical walking tours through CAE.

Or a subscription to a magazine, I'm thinking more National Geographic than Barely Legal.

A fishing trip on the bay (I'm sure that is on

Wines. Nobody don't like wines. You can buy online and have them delivered.

A screaming flying monkey.
posted by Trivia Newton John at 12:53 AM on December 2, 2010

Seconding the framed photo (or slideshow, or video) of your boyfriend. Something he can show off to friends/relatives. Bonus points for giving the dad a glimpse into his life that he would otherwise not have.
posted by metaseeker at 1:14 AM on December 2, 2010

Decent bottle.
Framed Escher print (I like Metamorphosis III, Circle Limit II or Development II).
NatGeo subscription or coffee table book of world photography.
posted by turkeyphant at 1:44 AM on December 2, 2010

Subscription to Australian Traveller magazine? When I give subscriptions, I buy the latest issue and wrap it up with the subscription-acknowledgment-card-thingy so they get something on the day, and have something to look forward to for a year - or 2 in the case of this magazine - as well.

(Disclaimer: I once won a competition through that magazine but it's oh-so-daydream-inducing if you like to travel within Oz. Makes you appreciate this wide brown land of ours.)
posted by malibustacey9999 at 2:54 AM on December 2, 2010

Does your boyfriend have any sisters you can ask? Or failing that an elder brother who may be more responsible for day-to-day elder care? Your boyfriend's dad sounds a lot like my grandfather, in which case he will be unfailingly polite if you get him anything, but if you get him exactly what he wants he will be your best friend for life.

(Asking for gift advice may be taboo in their family Kris Kringle, so my apologies if so. It's practically part of the game in my family - everybody asks everybody else, "What do I get for so-and-so?" or even "What should muddgirl get for so-and-so?" and eventually we can all guess who drew who.)
posted by muddgirl at 5:29 AM on December 2, 2010

The default man's gift in my family has been, and probably always will be, pocket knives. You can pretty much spend whatever you want, and a pocket knife walks a nice line of being functional jewelry.

Australia has pretty restrictive laws, so something like the Spyderco UK Pen Knife might be good. You'll need to get it shipped, but it's worth it. No one could open it up and fail to get intense satisfaction from how well made it feels. Available on or pretty much anywhere that sells knives.
posted by pjaust at 6:01 AM on December 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

I concur with the nice booze. Go a step or two up from what he would normally get. For instance, my fiance usually gets Gentleman Jack for his Jack Daniels-drinking father.

A decanter was mentioned above. My dad has this thing called the Vinturi which he loves. It's a wine aerator. I don't know jack about wine but my dad and his girlfriend love it. If you look around on Amazon there are a number of different gift sets.
posted by radioamy at 10:33 AM on December 2, 2010

Booze n house shoes (slippers)
posted by WeekendJen at 10:36 AM on December 2, 2010

Response by poster: Historical walking tour of Melbourne sounds perfect... With super-nice booze or magazine subscription as backups. All the other answers were great too... Have loads of present ideas for MY dad too now. Thanks AskMe!
posted by t0astie at 11:36 AM on December 2, 2010

Does he have a few people around occasionally, and doesn't hate board games? If so, Ticket To Ride is an excellent game

Rubik's cube, or the harder 4x4x4 cube? Heaps of online retailers that should get it to you in time.

Subscription to Make: Magazine?
posted by trialex at 12:53 PM on December 2, 2010

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