Design

Gift Guide #8: Your Dad (or Father Figure) Who Listens to Opera Yet Also Knows Every Line of So I Married an Axe Murderer.

Bob Dylan

One of the year’s great books, including Bob Dylan, A Year and a Day, Ali, Frederick Douglass and Fly Girls. From $19.

cashmere everlane sweater

Cashmere sweater, $140, to keep him warm during the winter. (This $59 lambswool one is nice, too.)

Truffle butter

Truffle butter, $40, because it makes popcorn, steak, pasta or even a baked potato ridiculously delicious. “The aroma leaps into the air and fills the room,” says food legend Ruth Reichl.

reel viewer personalized custom

A viewfinder, $30, with a highlight reel of your favorite times together.

big sur car fragrance

Big Sur car fragrance, $10, to make his everyday commute feel like Highway 1.

mad men

airplane footrest

Airplane footrests, $20, so he can actually sleep on red eyes.

hot honey

Hot honey, $14. “It’s honey but spicy, and it just makes everything better,” swears Caroline.

new york times

New York Times subscription, from $40. Because it feels so, so, so good to hold a real paper.

double bananagrams

Your favorite dorky game to play together, $13.

aclu

A donation in his name to the ACLU.

joanna, lucy, jeremy goddard

Plane tickets to visit each other, because that’s all he really wants anyway.

P.S. The 2016 gift guide for dads, the 2017 gift guide for dads, and the 2018 gift guide so far.

(NYT photo by Patrick. Mad Men photo by Frank Ockenfels. Truffle butter via Ruth Reichl.)

  1. Charlotte says...

    Thank you for the paintings. My heart beats in slow motion when I look at them. I want to stand in a bare room and look at them all day.

  2. Ella says...

    The Bob Dylan book was written by my neighbor! He was Dylan’s personal photographer and it’s an amazing collection of never released pictures and stories (good gift for women too!).
    My dad isn’t with us but I always struggle with gifts for my more conservative husband. How many cufflinks can a person own, you know? I got him a board game last year and it turned out to be the perfect gesture that said ‘I like hanging out with you, here’s an excuse to do that more.’ So I might just do that again and pray that some of his cufflinks break before the next round of gift giving.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      wow, that’s incredible about your neighbor!

      i hear you about husband gifts — i love the idea of a board game, that’s really sweet. in terms of hanging out, another idea could be an experience gift, like maybe you could make a reservation at a restaurant that you know he’d love, or tickets to see a play, band or comedy show. my friend linsey gave her husband “a year of dates” once where they did something different every month, and it wasn’t all fancy – going out for dim sum, or sneaking wine into a movie theater. :) xoxo

  3. JB says...

    I actually really love this gift guide although am being a bit Grinch-y about Christmas this year. I wish I could just buy gifts for the people I WANT to buy gifts for, or only when I find a really great gift, instead of the obligatory distribution that results in a lot of half-hearted “I bought you this because I had to buy SOMETHING.” As a result, I’ve been campaigning for a no gift Christmas and instead donating to our favourite causes, and as such, have become the least favourite DIL…can’t win!

  4. Megan says...

    Ordered the hot honey + spicy maple + sriracha set. Thank you! So hard shopping for dads.

  5. Em says...

    Trying not to get too grim on us all here but I found myself googling “gift guide for recovering alcoholic father having a mental breakdown” and I didn’t come up with much. Mostly I think it just made me a bit sad that my Dad isn’t the kind of man that’s described in this gift guide, a feeling that only gets worse as I get older. I’m so glad that people have wonderful loving and generous men in their lives and I’m so grateful my own husband is that wonderful father for our daughter. Merry Christmas to you all though despite the downer contribution from me!

    • Sarah says...

      Em, I feel the same way. I had an absentee father who ran from any every kind of commitment + financial responsibility. Not much love there. I recently started to make my peace with the fact that he will never live up to this conservative image I have of a loving father. That’s just not him. And since he never gave me anything I don’t feel obliged to get him a gift at all. Gifts don’t change or define relationships. The absence of one however..maybe does.

    • Kiana says...

      Em, I feel you and you’re not alone. I envy the relationship other women have with their mothers as I have practically no relationship with my own. It’s a long, complicated story but I just decided years ago that you can’t save someone who doesn’t want to be saved. It was draining on me to try. I don’t get her a gift for Christmas. I send her a text message on her birthday, on mother’s day and on Christmas I send her a picture of her grandchildren. Don’t beat yourself up. And know you’re not alone in your relationship with your parents. Hugs.

  6. LB says...

    My dad would love the car air freshener that smells like big sur in the rain. But in his practical dad way he’d say “But we live an hour and a half a way from big sur, I could just go there and get some eucalyptus myself.” I might still get it for him to cover up the dog smell in his car :)

  7. SJ says...

    For those eying the truffle butter but balking at the price: Trader Joe’s makes an excellent one. Package is much less cute, but it is much more affordable. And yes, it’s delicious on popcorn.

  8. ErikaMC says...

    While it’s a well thought out list there is not a single thing on here that my dad would like (maybe a plane ticket but since we only live 15 minutes apart that’s not necessary). For my dad: new work socks, a package of Twizzlers and a coin collecting book/magazine… he also watches Fox News all day :)

    • Julia says...

      Wait…. is your dad my father in law?!? Mike B. lives 15 minutes from me and literally spends his day eating Twizzler and watching Fox News!! Ha! I agree— great list but I don’t have this person in my life!

  9. Hannah says...

    “Plane tickets to visit each other, because that’s all he really wants anyway.” – it’s so true. My mom would always say she wants “the gift of time”. She’s no longer with us, so this year I’m spoiling my dad a bit and getting him tickets to Hawaii :)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh my gosh, what an incredible gift, hannah!

  10. Laura C. says...

    Though my dad passed away almost seven years ago (he died on that January day called Blue Monday), I like to watch this kind of lists and guess which present I would have picked for him. The newspaper subscription, I guess. He would have turned 69 on January the 1st.
    Sorry for the sad note, I just wanted to remember him.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      your dad sounds wonderful, laura. i’m really sorry for your loss. you must miss him a lot. what was his name? what kinds of things was he into? xoxo

    • Laura C. says...

      Thank you Joanna. His name was Javier. He liked to play his classic guitar very much, and to do crosswords, he liked noir cinema and, of course and I’m not kidding, he was the absolute King of Dad’s Jokes. Some of them were tremendous.
      Thanks again darling, you’re a sweetie xoxo

    • Sasha L says...

      I love these kinds of comments. I love being reminded of our shared humanness and that it’s really all about love in the end. Laura, thank you for sharing about your dad.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      the king of dad jokes :) i love that. he sounds smart, funny and wonderful.

    • Laura, I lost my dad a year and a half ago, and this year for Christmas, in lieu of getting presents between the siblings, we are getting a big stone engraved for his place in Montana. Definitely not the kind of present that is “fun” to give, but maybe the most meaningful. I do like your idea of picking out what I would have given my dad. It’s always a book. I would always pick a book for him. So sorry for your loss, especially this time of the year.

  11. RK says...

    The airplane footrest is life changing! I got one for a long flight between NYC and the UK… slept better than I ever thought possible in coach!

  12. Abigail says...

    What about gifts for the father who watches Fox News and monitors the stock market and weather forecast all day. True story. 😂

    • CaraM says...

      I think you just described my Dad, Abigail. Solidarity from this liberal daughter!

    • Kelly says...

      hahaha. i was trying to imagine my dad’s reaction if I gave him a donation to the ACLU…good to see i’m not alone!

    • Morgan says...

      This is 100% my dad. Politically opposite, and super plain (things like cashmere sweaters would be lost on him). I’ve started sending him tins of local cheese, spicy chocolate, beef jerky, etc. made here in my local college town. When he comes to visit, I’ll take him to a new place and if he likes it, I’ll send him something from there for Christmas. He gets to eat it and enjoy over the holiday season, and since it’s food, he can’t return it!

    • Emily says...

      Haha, my dad would spontaneously combust if I gave him a membership to the ACLU.

  13. heather says...

    My dad is definitely not as “cool” as this list, although he is wonderful. But I did order the spicy honey for my husband!

  14. Abesha1 says...

    Soap on a Rope!

    Hahahahahah. Ha.

  15. Where is the photo taken of you and your sister and father?

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      The Lake District in England I think! I’ll double check w my dad xo

  16. Katie says...

    Got excited for opera recs, and then…! Other great ideas for myself in here though, like that truffle butter or hot honey.

  17. Elizabeth says...

    I just bought my father the new, well-reviewed bio, Churchill: Walking with Destiny, which to me screams “Dad book!”

  18. I’m really glad you included a donation to the ACLU on your dad list. I also “got” my dad (of similar vintage as yours) a donation to the ACLU last year and it is honestly one of the most meaningful gifts I can remember giving him. I’m pretty sure we both cried after I explain the “why” of it. It felt like such a reflection of his values, and a gift that was really representative of what he cared about. Besides, he has a lot of cool old vinyls (also great gifts), and pictures of his daughters (the best gift).

  19. Lilly says...

    Where were you in that picture? =)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i’m on the left in the green coat :)

    • Bobby says...

      I think Lilly means what country/state/geographical location….

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Oh haha yes — the Lake District in England I think!

    • As a twin, I fully understand Joanna’s response. :) Would’ve done the same thing!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      hahaha we’ve been asked a million times, i default to that answer!

  20. Ginny says...

    it’s like an orange on a toothpick! Love So I Married an Axe Murderer!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      hahahah YES!!!

      PS it has its own weather system

    • Denise says...

      Me too! I always giggle even after so many times watching.

  21. Kate says...

    Shh, nobody tell him, but I got my dad tickets to see Neko Case next year and he’s gonna flip! (Obviously I’m going to go, too, so win/win!)

    • Erin says...

      That is such a good present!

  22. Erin Wiedenman says...

    The hot honey sounds delicious! Also GREAT stocking stuffer idea for the whole family: Trader Joes has a 6 pack of mini versions of different honeys (clover, orange blossom, macadamia, etc.) in little glass bottles that we got for stockings last year and again this year. They’re delicious and the pack is only $10.

    • Jess. says...

      Oh my goodness, thank you! My husband loves honey, and his stocking is always the lightest! xox

    • Heather says...

      Trader Joe’s also has truffle butter! (What DOESN’T Trader Joe’s have, I ask you.)

    • Lauren E. says...

      THANK YOU! That’s also something I can buy last minute.