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Gift Guide #6: Your Awesome Dad Who Can Drive on Icy Roads (and Other James-Bond-Like Things).

10 Great Gifts for Dads

A cashmere sweater (or hat!) because he deserves the best.

10 Great Gifts for Dads

Incredible incense (and I don’t even LIKE incense) to make his home smell like the woodsiest woods.

10 Great Gifts for Dads

One of the top books of the year — Exhalation — which Barack Obama called “a collection of short stories that will make you think, grapple with big questions, and feel more human. The best kind of science fiction.”

10 Great Gifts for Dads

A black truffle to shave over buttery pasta or his legendary scrambled eggs.

10 Great Gifts for Dads

Codenames, an amazing game that involves spies, an assassin and word play. My favorite game I’ve played this year.

10 Great Gifts for Dads

Food ornaments to make him smile. (Love the pancakes!)

10 Great Gifts for Dads

A pizza puzzle to work on together.

10 Great Gifts for Dads

How cool is this: If you donate to an environmental cause this season, Patagonia will match it. You can find organizations on the Patagonia site here. (They’re matching people’s donations up to $10 million!)

10 Great Gifts for Dads

A framed heirloom or a framed photo of the two of you.

A subscription to The Atlantic. Because journalism!

10 Great Gifts for Dads

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

P.S. Last year’s dad’s gift guide, and the 2019 gift guide so far.

Note: If you buy something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission, at no cost to you. We recommend only products we genuinely like. Thank you so much.

(Patagonia matching via Lewis.)

  1. Judy says...

    I don’t get the headline. If you live where it drops below freezing, you know how to drive on ice. Is it insinuating that dads drive adult females around when the roads have ice?

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      I was actually thinking about how my dad taught us to skid safely on ice so that if it ever happened we would know how to handle it. I also remember once driving up a mountain road with switchbacks that was covered in ice and how calm he stayed (even though he later told us he was freaking out!). He works in the automotive industry so he’s a very adept driver.

    • Holly says...

      Maybe you’re new to Joanna’s gift guides but every year the title has a brief lovely description specific to her family member (Notice the guide for sister’s title has “twin” in it). I have always believed it was to give the reader a bit of insight into the gift-reciever so you can use the guide for other folks in your life too.

  2. I’m always amazed when gift guides for men don’t include mesh shorts or white undershirts.

  3. Naomi says...

    Great stuff! A few additional ideas, if anyone needs them:
    My husband’s new clothing go-to: Taylor Stitch.
    More magazines: Monocle!! (and any of their travel guides etc.), Wallpaper*, Wired… A great way to spend quiet time reading, not on the phone.
    Art: I got him a wood-cut of Lake Tahoe, our favorite place to go
    Concert tickets or tickets to an unexpected sports event (basketball anyone?) – buy a pair, for a date night (warning: always gets the same response at first: “oh… tickets”. and then we go to the event and I get “oh man! this is so awesome!”)

  4. elinor says...

    I haven’t read Exhalation, but Ted Chiang’s previous book of short stories (“Stories of your life”) was amazing. It contains the short story that the movie “Arrival” was based on!

  5. Katie says...

    Yes to framed photos! Last year I got my 100 year old grandmother a recent photo of my sister and I, framed, having realized she didn’t have any photos of us since we were in high school (15 years ago!). It went over super well and she still tells me how much she loves it every time she sees me. Of course, I’m totally screwed for this year because I can never top it. 😂

  6. Claire Miller says...

    You just picked that cashmere-wearing-dad because he looks like a grown-up Toby!

  7. Cat says...

    OMG, yes. We don’t really do holiday gifts in my family, and I’m to the left myself, but I belly-laughed imagining getting a subscription to the Atlantic for my Rush Limbaugh/Fox News-consuming conservative father or Trump-supporting brother. It would be Shots Fired! I had actually been contemplating a subscription to the WSJ for my brother, but even that would be too on-the-nose mainstream media for him at this point.

    I bet COJ could put together a really thoughtful piece on navigating through “politically blended” families — maybe there have already been posts like this? I think this is one of the ways we can fight back against the toxic political galvanization that’s happening — figuring out ways to talk with one another. My parents have quietly canceled out one another’s presidential votes for years and managed to live in harmony despite this. The Trump era has created a level of division and awfulness that they never really had to navigate before. I am still able to have reasonable conversations with my dad and brother, and I think we all do a decent job of trying to listen to one another, but it is like walking on eggshells. I have a lot of older extended family members running very far down the right-wing propaganda rabbit hole, who weren’t this extreme just a few years ago. Any tips or anecdotes for finding common ground with family members with extreme political views? I still believe we have so much more in common than different. Luckily, my dad and brother are not religious — if they were, I think these conversations would be even harder to have; it is very difficult to argue with someone who thinks their beliefs are divinely mandated.

    • Rae says...

      Cat, I was thinking of requesting a similar discussion : )
      If you listen to podcasts you might enjoy checking out Straight White American Jesus. It is hosted by two religion / political science professors who are both ex-Evangelical and ordained ministers. It looks at how white Evangelical beliefs have shaped our current political landscape and culture. While it does point out hypocrisies, it doesn’t name call or condescend. I have found it very helpful in allowing me to coexist with my religiously conservative relatives because I have a much better understanding of where they are coming from.

    • rose says...

      There should be a board game for this!

    • Leah says...

      Another podcast I’d recommend is Pantsuit Politics (a bipartisan political podcast hosted by two women from Kentucky), specifically their episode last week, “How to Discuss Impeachment and Politics at Holiday Gatherings”. They discuss how to have these conversations with love, and how to shift the conversation when you’ve had enough. I think the hosts, Sarah and Beth, are so thoughtful and would be wonderful to see here on CoJ!
      http://www.pantsuitpoliticsshow.com/show-archives/2019/11/24/november-26-episode

    • Cat says...

      Y’all are awesome. Thank you for these podcast suggestions!! Subscribed and can’t wait to listen to these.

  8. Jenna says...

    The ornaments brought me back to my Grandma’s kitchen. She collected magnets, which covered her fridge. Some of my favorites were food items: chocolates in crimped paper, a striped lollipop, Chuckles, juicy fruit gum, taffy pops, and a doughnut with pink frosting and sprinkles.

  9. Joanna says...

    I SEE YOU ALL, COMMENTERS!!! Have enjoyed these gift guides for years and been touched and amused at the titles, but this was the one that made me think “OMG SOME PEOPLE HAVE THESE NORMAL HEALTHY NON-TOXIC LOVING RELATIONSHIPS WITH THEIR FAMILY MEMBERS??? WOW!” You guys are all cracking me up on here, and I love you guys :)

    • Gwennan says...

      I could have written the exact same comment Joanna! Thanks COJ for the guide, and all the commenters for the laugh…especially Kiana. This little corner of the Internet really is the best :-)

  10. Hannah says...

    Anything personal framed is a showstopper gift. For my dad’s 50th birthday, his older brother gave him a framed left-handed catchers mitt. My dad had one back in the 70’s and practically slept with it back when he played baseball. My uncle, notoriously anti-clutter, sold it in a garage sale not knowing how significant it was. It hangs in my dad’s office and reminds us all of two things – his love of baseball and how my uncle was Marie Kondo-ing before it was a thing.

  11. Caroline says...

    I love that Patagonia is matching donations! Every year part of my gift to my dad is a gift to an organization he cares about, and this is such a cool way to make it more impactful. Thank you!!

  12. Rashmi says...

    Hahaha… Joanna and team please do run a special segment on these lines this year!!! My contribution… ‘Gift Guide for your ultra conservative brother who mooches off of you yet whines that you as a woman don’t know how to cook’.

    • Meg says...

      I’m dying at all of these, so funny. I love this comment section.

    • Meg says...

      Ok I’ll play and add my own: “Gift Guide for your Mother whose emotional fragility you are currently in Therapy to deal with you, and who loves Bible Study and Birdwatching.” TOO REAL?? Lol.

      I seriously do love these gift guides COJ, I’m not mocking them and have purchased many gifts from them in the past! I just feel seen by this comment section :D

  13. Jennifer Botsford says...

    An electric bike!!! My Dad (age 82) has had macular degeneration for over 10 years. He had to give up his drivers license (6 yrs ago), his motorcycles (5 yrs ago)and basically his independence. Fortunately he has an amazing wife (my mom) who will drive him anywhere . . . but who wants to give up their independence?! Although legally blind he is able to maneuver an electric (Ebike) bike (his brand is Blix) b/c the tires are wide, he knows the roads where he lives, and he can get help up the hills w/gears 3 and 4!! It changed his life, along with an ipad (max magnification). He got his bike in May and has logged over 1,000 miles!!

    • JessicaD says...

      This is wonderful! It must have made your dad so happy! (I have a condition where diminished eyesight can become an issue and I hope to be lucky to be surrounded by such wonderful, caring people who want to help me maintain the independence that is so very important to me.)

    • Andrea says...

      iPads are the best gift for parents! My mom had a hard time navigating a desktop, so I bought her an iPad, configured it and added games she would like and also wrote a really simple manual. It was her on ramp back into the digital age. She now will respond to my emails and has a tool that she can use.

    • celeste says...

      I love the electric bike and iPad ideas. Very thoughtful kids/grandkids you are.

  14. Eliot says...

    Oh, my sister is a baker (in Brooklyn!) and I just ordered her the ornament that looks like a stick of butter. It’s PERFECT. I was super stuck when trying to think of what to get her for Christmas so thank you!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Love that!

  15. Janet says...

    It’s funny to see this site’s liberal bias come into play with a gift guide of all things! I don’t mind in the least (it’s your site, after all) but it makes me chuckle.

    • Susan says...

      My thoughts exactly!

    • Elizabeth R says...

      I mean, this blog was never hiding that they were liberal aka. reasonable human beings. Also, you could probably read it in the context clues before they mentioned a very well written magazine.

    • Emma says...

      Interested to see what a conservative gift guide for dads would be? MAGA gear? Fox News sweater?

    • rose says...

      The Atlantic byline is:
      Independent Since 1857
      For more than 160 years, The Atlantic has been committed to our founding credo: to be “of no party or clique.” We seek debate over agreement, fact over favor.

      This is one place where the right and left can meet and dialogue with respect and open-mindedness.

  16. Carole says...

    Boy of boy that model in the first picture… what a cutie!! :) *blush*

  17. Kristen says...

    On the family heirloom: After my grandfather passed away in Jan 2010, we cleaned out my grandparents house and I spent HOURS pouring over old photos. I found one of his wallet-sized headshots from college (they were so fancy back in the day!) and on the back was a love note to my grandmother. They were from different sides of the tracks and had quite a love story. I kept it, framed it, and gave it to my mom for Christmas. She still tells me how much it makes her smile. Sometimes the best gifts cost you very little, but give to the recipient for years.

  18. Michelle says...

    These are all perfect gifts for my boyfriend!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      so glad, michelle!

  19. Julia says...

    I gave my dad Exhalation for Father’s Day this year and he LOVED it. I read it too and it was so much fun to talk about the stories and compare notes. Definitely recommend.

  20. Margot says...

    The gift guides always have great ideas (I especially enjoy the ones for kids!), but reading this I can’t help chuckling about what a gift guide would look like for family members with whom I have a dysfunctional relationship. “Gift Guide 6: Your Puritanical Father Who Prohibited Listening to Secular Music in Your Youth, and Destroyed Your Secret Stash of CDs When He Found Them” or “Gift Guide 7: Your Emotionally Needy Mother who Loves Your Kids, but Also Donald Trump.”

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      hahaha i’m sure this is true for everyone at some point!

    • Colleen S says...

      Wow, I never realized this was a good point. Mine would be a gift guide for “Y Sister Who Believes Everyone But Our Father’s Side of the Family Are Cult Members and is Physically Abusive Towards Her Grandmother.” But I haven’t bought her a gift since last year, when I decided to pity her and got her a bath set (which she ended up not getting because she insisted that if she couldn’t get an apartment or a car as Christmas gifts, she wanted nothing, which is what she got: NOTHING).

    • ella says...

      omg, I was just coming here to say something along the same lines! every year I read these gift guides and marvel at the fact that some people have very healthy, normal relationships with their parents. meanwhile, the absolute last thing my dad or I would want would be plane tickets to visit each other. also: my mom is emotionally needy, loves my kids and also loves donald trump. glad i’m not alone, lol.

    • ABC says...

      I WAS COMING IN HERE TO SAY THE SAME!

      How about a gift guide for your “sweet & loving father who lives in his 1% bubble, [not-so] shockingly supports Trump, listens to Fox news, and thinks that tangible gifts show how much you love them?

      I’m STUCK.

    • M says...

      This! Love the gift guides overall for ideas for the hubs, kids and friends but the labels for mom, sister, brother, dad – oh boy these simply do not resonate with the dysfunction junction that is my family of origin.

    • Kiana says...

      Get them the Mueller report. You can bind it at kinkos. 👍

    • Hannah says...

      THIS! Gift Guide 6: Your Homebody Father Who Loves Jesus, Hates Change, and Finally Accepted That Harry Potter Is Not A Gateway Drug to Satan”

    • agnes says...

      As my father is getting older, (90), and vulnerable, I’m trying to find ways to reach him (sometimes, it’s just chocolate), We disagree on mostly everything that matters, but I still love him (that’s probably how nature works!) and want to take care of him, because getting old is probably the most difficult moment of life. I know he doesn’t need a gift, being there is quite enough.

    • Sarz says...

      I FEEL SO SEEN! When I was a child, I thought *everyone* attended family therapy. I appreciate the writing in the CoJ gift guides. The holidays are the perfect time for those sort of feel-good stories. ;-)

    • Sasha L says...

      Gift guide for my brother, who likes to kill things. Just get him bullets. It’s all he really wants anyway. And for Trump to be named fuhrer.
      Gift guide for his wife, knee deep in the MLM du jour, healthy wine!! Gee thanks but we’re sober (and your husband, an alcoholic, would do well to get sober), and she’s offended that we are not *supporting* her latest endeavor.
      Gift guide for my other brother, who starts drinking before noon, if he’s awake before noon, and enjoys picking out the absolute worst thing in a thrift shop to give his little sister, and then brags about it.
      Gift guide for mother in law who hates me, and is currently coming to grips with her son’s (actual, dna tested, for real) paternity, that she’s been denying for 52 years.

      They are all getting nothing.

      Ok, trying to find the humor, and some days I really can laugh about family dysfunction, but today it’s just making me sad. I guess it’s nice to know we’re not alone, right? Hugs COJ friends. And very grateful for family members that are kind, loving and functional.