Daddy, baby
June 3, 2005 4:32 PM   Subscribe

(crazy-headedness of offspring) = (difficulty of father to shop for) / (# of days until Father's Day) Please help.

1. He works at a car factory for about 70 hours a week (yes, literally).
2. He is bitter at that factory, so won't want anything related to the company or car the automobile industry. He MIGHT like something about the UAW, but I don't know, because maybe he's a little bitter at them too (corruption, etc.)
3. Because he works such long hours, he doesn't really have a hobby. Except he goes to casinos, but I'm not going to encourage that. He does fish a few times a year but ONLY a few times a year and he already has tons of fishing stuff, plus fishing gifts for fathers day seem really cliche.
4. He doesn't read. He also doesn't seem to care about movies. If he tries to read or watch a movie, he falls asleep (see # 1)
5. He's not particulary interested in gadgets. If I give him a gadget he will play with it a couple of times then put it in the drawer of doom from whence it will never emerge.
6. He doesn't care about clothes. He has new clothes he hasn't worn yet because his old clothes are "still fine."

Please help me. My dad has worked so hard all his life and now he spends most of his time when he is not working sitting on the couch not even watching tv, but falling asleep in front of the tv.

He does enjoy sitting in front of the window drinking coffee, watching the birds, and playing gin with my mom. And he has a regular euchre party once a month. But cards? There's no gift involving cards, and any gift that did involve cards would be a novelty gadgety thing, I think. And as for the birds, well, he does enjoy them a lot. But he already has binoculars and plenty of birdfeeders etc.

I really want to get him to have something he enjoys doing in his free time before he retires in five years because otherwise I'm afraid he'll be so bored. He has expressed an interest in travelling though the western US, but it is impossible to get him to take time off work.

And guilty me, I can't even visit him on Father's Day this year. (We live far away)

Is there some hobby I could start him on? Or some kind of activity in Southeastern Michigan I could give him non-date sensitive tickets for? Help me put some excitement in this man's life!

Alternatively, there is enough time to do something sentimental. He'll definitely get all teary-eyed if I do that. But...what? Would it be cheesy to give him a quilt he can use on the couch? (and if so, "good cheesy" or "bad cheesy")

Successful gifts of the past have included: a grill, some kind of accessory thing for his truck that catches the bugs before they can hit the windshield, and particular power tools, but only when he's had a certain one in mind and asked for it. And Myst, but you can tell how long ago that was.

Please help!
posted by leapingsheep to Human Relations (25 answers total)
Response by poster: doh. sorry about the typo in #2. And by quilt, I meant a hand made one.
posted by leapingsheep at 4:34 PM on June 3, 2005

Best answer: If you want sentimental (and if it's true), write him a letter telling how happy you are to be his [daughter/son] and you wanted him to know. Say all those things you feel but never seem to say outloud.

I did this for my parent's 40th wedding anniversary and it meant more to them than anything I could have bought. My dad keeps his copy in his wallet and my mom has hers in the jewelry box so I know it was effective at some level.
posted by karmaville at 4:41 PM on June 3, 2005

Regarding the birds, how about a guide to regional species? A membership to a local birder's club (I have no idea if such a thing exists -- just brainstorming)? Or is there a bird sanctuary in the area that you could arrange a trip to?

I don't think a quilt would be cheesy (at least not "bad cheesy"), as long as you don't think he'd react in a sort of "all you think I do is sleep!" sort of way.
posted by scody at 4:43 PM on June 3, 2005

I think a handmade quilt would be a great idea! (Unless of course, what scody said about possible negative reaction.)
posted by Melinika at 5:08 PM on June 3, 2005

I agree with karmaville, except I was thinking, just print out this question, and sign it "Love You Dad". I'm a dad so I know that would get me. The quilt or the birdbook would go along with it fine.
posted by ScotchLynx at 5:08 PM on June 3, 2005

If he's into fly-tying, or if you think he might take to fly-fishing, there are endless gifts in that department.

There's nothing quite like giving your ol' near-retired dad a bag of feathers and fluff, and having him be delighted with what by all appearances is crafty stuff for a kindergarten class...
posted by five fresh fish at 5:13 PM on June 3, 2005

I like the letter and quilt ideas, and yes, there is something touching about the way you've described him in the question. Also, if there's a restaurant that he enjoys eating at when he goes to the casino or if he enjoys taking in shows while he's there, you might consider a restaurant gift certificate or tickets to similar kind of entertainment closer to him.
posted by PY at 5:13 PM on June 3, 2005

Some birders like cameras.

Relaxation for a guy who likes to watch birds might be: plants that attract birds arranged to grow nearby. A swing/hammock in the yard. An outdoor art sculpture that's also interesting to watch/look at.

A non date-specific activity might be a future visit from you! ...And maybe you could tie it to something specific you think he could get interested in. Such as a plan to go to wineries or antiquing or to a painting class or orchid show or ??? (whatever kind of thing you think he might be interested in once he retires). My dad and I had a grand time one year at the horse races.

I've also given fancy restaurant gift certificates and B&B gift certificates for my parents to have a getaway. That way, they can choose the date but I have made sure to give them something pretty specific.

On the sentimental tip: one year I transferred all the old super-8 movies to DVD for the parents and they loved it.
posted by xo at 5:24 PM on June 3, 2005

How about some really damn good coffee, a thermos, and a good birding book?
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 5:38 PM on June 3, 2005

Sounds a hell of a lot like my dad until a couple of years ago when he retired.

I just ask him if he needs any tools. Almost always there's something he needed/broke. I'd buy that and, well, there you go. It's not a suprise, but, depending on the person, that isn't a problem if they're getting what they want.
posted by shepd at 5:43 PM on June 3, 2005

Maybe it's too gadgety, but you can get a set of playing cards made that remind him of you and yourn when he plays.
posted by plinth at 6:08 PM on June 3, 2005

If you want to create a once-in-a-lifetime, memorable experience, scheme with your mom to arrange a outing with him when you can get back to a fly-fishing camp in Michigan. :) Or fishing for trout/salmon on Lake Michigan.

Life is short. Having an amazing adventure together is one of those things you and he would never, ever forget.
posted by jeanmari at 6:27 PM on June 3, 2005

Best answer: If he's in southeast MI, that's not too terribly far from Pittsburgh, so maybe a day/weekend trip to the National Aviary? It is supposed to be beautiful. Lots to do in the 'Burgh and environs, including Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater , about two hours east, which I think everyone should see in person.
posted by SashaPT at 6:29 PM on June 3, 2005

Response by poster: wow...I'm feeling kind of squealy. A few hours ago I thought there was NO good gift for Dad. Now there are too many to choose from! Thanks everyone! Keep it coming :-)
posted by leapingsheep at 7:01 PM on June 3, 2005

I was going to suggest something coffee-related. Maybe a few pounds of really good beans and a grinder? Grinders run about $20, and you can get good beans for around $6/lb, mail order through Porto Rico, based in NYC.

Another suggestion is a birding book for regional birds, which has been suggested by others.

Is he on his feet all day at the factory? Maybe some nice gel insoles? Or is that too practical? (Some people don't like practical gifts as much as others.)
posted by elisabeth r at 7:15 PM on June 3, 2005

Besides the books, think about a magazine. I love getting a new magazine in the mail and there are several good birding magazines out there filled with stories, pictures, and birdhouse plans.

Also, my father-in-law loves his monogramed poker chip set-- you can find them in a variety of prices from $20.00 on up.

Another thing he has loved in the past is Omaha Steaks (he is on the Atkins Diet.) They offer wonderful beef steaks by mail from about $40.00 on up.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:48 PM on June 3, 2005

This is kinda insane, but I believe the best coffee I've ever tasted is Kona Peaberry coffee. That's just the first I found, there are plenty of others, but they're ridiculously expensive and the kind of thing that I believe fulfills all the necessities of a gift. First, it's something the receiver would never buy for themselves, and second, it's something the receiver doesn't know they want.

Best of luck. Your dad is a lucky guy.
posted by incessant at 8:15 PM on June 3, 2005

What about a really good photo of you? My brother and I had a professional photo taken of the two of us for my father's 80th birthday, and he loved it.
posted by jeri at 12:32 AM on June 4, 2005

If he liked Myst, get him Riven! (the sequel). Then the two of you can have nice bonding-time as you go insane trying to figure it out.
posted by Lotto at 5:26 AM on June 4, 2005

If he's interested in travel, maybe a bunch of travel guides/regional info books about various parts of the u.s.? Some sort of "travel basket" of various things attached to finally making the trip out west.
Dads are often a tough person to buy for.
posted by Radio7 at 8:10 AM on June 4, 2005

How about a bird feeder for outside the window?
posted by rabbus at 8:18 AM on June 4, 2005

I would like to suggest, if its possible these days in SE Michigan (I'm a native), a trip (or two!) to a legitimate massage establishment. Surely anyone that slaves on the line that much would find they liked that a great deal. I speak as someone who was sent to "Krankengymnastic" therapy in Germany.

(what's up with 70 hours? Shortage of workers in Michigan?)
posted by Goofyy at 11:30 AM on June 4, 2005

Oh, rabbus. There are some pretty cool bird feeders out there...good idea. Here are a few:

Window View

Attracts woodpeckers.

Attracts non-seedeating birds

How to Attract Birds to Your Backyard

Match the Feeder to the Bird
posted by jeanmari at 11:32 AM on June 4, 2005

Whoops, here is the link for the Window View.
posted by jeanmari at 11:33 AM on June 4, 2005

Response by poster: Goofyy: 70 hours because he wants to retire in five years! He used to work so much because they were raising me and my sister and sending us to college, etc., but now its just simply to retire faster.

But ewww............I don't want to send my dad to a "massage establishment".....ewwwww


Sasha PT: I didn't use it as a gift, but I talked to my dad last night and insisted that we meet there sometime soon, and he loved the idea.


karmaville: I KNOW I have to do that letter thing. Getting up the nerve is difficult. My father and I are the extremely introverted part of the family. Which makes it more important to do. So I am going to try that, and I don't know which one of us will cry more!


Everyone: Thank you, these are amazing ideas. My sister suggested Omaha Steaks to go with the grill he got at Christmas. So maybe it seems like Omaha steaks and the letter and plans for the National Aviary sometime soon. And a printout of this page for me, because there are a loooot of daddy gift-giving opportunities. Warmest thanks!
posted by leapingsheep at 4:28 AM on June 5, 2005

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