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Frugal Father’s Day Gifts

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I usually give you very little notice on how to plan for an upcoming frugal holiday. I'm trying to be a little more proactive this year. With that in mind, the calendar flipping to June seems like a time to start thinking about Father's Day. I've never been one to send mushy cards or lavish gifts for Father's Day. Perhaps it's just me, but I feel that dads in general are not big fans of sappy cards. Plus cards are overpriced for what they are. Since some dads would feel awkward about accepting anything expensive, it's best to look for frugal alternatives. Fortunately, many options exist for those of us who want a simple, thoughtful Father's Day gift to make dad's day special.

Smaller children can really have fun with Father's Day. Handmade gifts and anything involving pictures are great gifts from the younger set. I remember giving my dad a smooth rock with the words "Happy Father's Day" on it that I made in first or second grade. That always got displayed prominently on his desk (despite how ugly it was).

Here are some ideas that would be appropriate for young children to give to their dads:

  • Change Jar - Clean out a glass jar (or purchase one new from a hobby/craft store). Punch a slot in the lid "“ when I've done this before I've used a slotted screwdriver and a hammer or mallet. Position the screwdriver so that the slot will be in the middle of the lid and tap on the handle with the hammer to punch a hole in the metal. Be sure to turn the lid over and hammer down the pointy bits after you've made the slot. Then, make a sign that says "I wouldn't CHANGE anything about my Dad!" and let the children go to town on decorating the jar. They could use stickers, paint, glitter, ribbon "“ whatever will make the jar festive and whimsical. Practical and fun!
  • A Day Off - A day off is especially appreciated by the younger Dad with small children. Relieve him of his usual household duties for the day and let him go play golf, or go fishing, or any activity of his choosing.
  • Handmade Greeting Card - Ah yes, the old standby. Still, a handmade card is always appreciated. Especially when it involves a handprint! It can be fun to reminisce and look through several years' worth of cards a few years down the road. There are no rules to creating a handmade card "“ just have fun!
  • Anything with Pictures - These days you can get portraits of your kids (or their artwork) printed on anything! Mugs, calendars, T-shirt, mouse pads "“ the possibilities are endless. You can walk into Wal-Mart (or go online) and order a photo mug for under $10.

Let's say, however, that you're no longer in elementary school but you want give your Dad a respectable but not over-the-top gift. Here are some suggestions:

  • Car Detailing - What dad wouldn't enjoy a freshly washed, waxed and vacuumed car? Gather together all of your cleaning supplies and tackle your dad's ride. Wash the car, apply tire cleaner, clean the windows inside and out and vacuum the interior.
  • A Custom Playlist or CD - Cater to your dad's musical tastes and make him a playlist of his favorite tunes. If you make a CD, you can add dad-centric cover art to the case. Every time dad listens to his special playlist, he'll think of you!
  • Ratcheting Screwdriver - Maybe your dad hasn't bought himself some new tools in a while. If he's still using old-school screwdrivers, upgrading him to a ratcheting screwdriver will be easier on his hands and allow him to do those little repairs much quicker! Even the fancier ones with the interchangeable bits can be under $25.
  • Charging Station - Like everyone these days, your dad probably has an array of electronic gadgets. This Gomadic Universal Charging Station is a great way to charge all of those devices without a tangle of unsightly cords.
  • Time - Time with our loved ones is finite. If you're not in the same city, give your dad a call. Listen to what's going on in his life and share what's happening in yours. If you're lucky enough to live near your dad, perhaps promise him a week of special lunches. These don't have to be expensive "“ this is more about the company than the atmosphere.

Hopefully these suggestions are helpful - happy Father's Day to all of the dads out there.

Last updated on June 25, 2016.

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3 Responses to “Frugal Father’s Day Gifts”

  1. Laurie P says:

    Great ideas! I read your earlier piece on the worst gifts and I think I’ve gotten them all. I’ve tried to help certain relatives and coach them to better choices to no avail. I finally realized that the gift is really about the giver! YES, IT IS TRUE! I’ve begged the grandparents to scale down on our kids gifts but see, it’s not about what would be good for my kids…it is about what makes them feel good! I use this knowledge to help me make better choices when I am the giver.

  2. Style77 says:

    I agree, great ideas. I really like the change jar. My husband and I do not really buy one another anything for holidays. The kids love to make us things and this is worth more than any store bought gift. I’m sure this will change as they get older and able to do more chores and make a few bucks around the house vs. a few dimes. Great ideas.

  3. Angie says:

    Love the change jar. That’s cool. It would make a great kid’s gift too. I don’t have a really creative gift idea like that to share, but it is a frugal gift, and practical. I got my Dad a prepaid cell phone which came with 300 bonus minutes and 60 days of service. After that, he pays just $15 a month for 150 minutes. It’s Net10 and I got it because from what I’ve read Net10 is rated highly for consumer satisfaction.

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