Whenever an event or allocated day arrives that requires me to get a
gift for my Dad there is always an element of panic, actually the
reality is that I’m completely clueless.
There are some Dad’s who have interests and hobbies that make gifting a piece of cake. Perhaps they’re obsessed with a sports team so you can get some of the latest kit or some more obscure memorabilia that they are yet to collect – the sort of objects your mum will curse you for buying and refer to as pointless clutter. Some Dads are car fiends, so vehicle accessories, Top Gear box sets or a red letter day driving experience could make for the perfect present.
Some of my friends Dad are really into their male grooming, and would love an expensive designer scent or some fancy hair products (the ones that still have hair). There’s some that still take a keen interest in fashion, and although they may sometimes teeter on the edge of being Buck dressed as Lamb, like to stay up to date and wear some of the latest trends.
Sadly none of the above apply to my father. He’s a very practical, intellectual man in his 70’s who doesn’t see much point in gifts that fit into the category of frivolous or fun. I know it doesn’t sound very celebratory or in spirit of the day, but he’d much rather have something that could be described as useful.
As well as being insanely organised, meticulous, sensible, and thorough, my dad is also extremely kind. There’s nothing he wouldn’t do for the people he loves. So knowing my fairly dire financial situation, he wouldn’t want me to spend money on him. He’s not someone to apply much importance to days celebrating his existence anyway, but he always urges me to save any money I’ve earned. I’m sure part of it is because he knows in some way because I am still living at home, and eating from his cupboards, that the money spent on the birthday and Father’s Day gifts are many ways his anyway,
I tell you all this because when I shop for Father’s Day it’s not a one size fits all scenario. What you spend, and how you spend, will be very different according to the man you are buying for, the relationship you have, and what they put emphasis on.
So keeping in mind what I know about my Dad, how he thinks, and the things that enrich his life, I decided it would be best to have a mooch round the shops with him before making my Father’s Day purchase. That way I’d see what things appeared to interest him as we went from shop to shop and wouldn’t end up spending money on a purchase that he thought was pointless or a waste of money.
So we headed to Kingston where we have been doing our big shopping trips for my entire life, whether it be looking for presents, homeware or fashion. Today was horrifically bad weather wise so we were really please to be under a roof for our shopping trip.
One gift that went down really well with Dad in the past was a travel guide to Mexico that I bought from this particular Waterstones. They recently came back from Mexico City, and found the book extremely useful in guiding them towards to must see areas, and veerying them away from the less desirable spots. Whenever my parents have a holiday booked, my Dad makes a point of learning the language via books, computer packages, or tapes. In fact over the last few years I’ve probably heard more italian and Spanish from my Dad’s mouth then I have the English language. He doesn’t seem to care that we don’t have a clue what he’s saying, or that our faces indicitae that it’s a tad annoying when we’re in a hurry for an answer to a question.
They have had all of their holiday’s for this year, so without one coming up there wasn’t an obvious destination to go for book-wise, so I decided it wouldn’t be a the right gift on this occasion.
It’s a jam packed store though, so if you’re father figure’s a book-worm it’s a great shop to visit.
Dad loves a good map
I have to be honest with you, we’re a fairly geeky family. Dad and Mum always worked in computing, and my brother went from working in special effects and CGI to working in data capture. Then there’s me who spends my day on my Mac, editing photos and videos and writing blog posts.
With that in mind I had to consider the Apple store during my quest for the perfect gift for Dad. He doesn’t own a Mac laptop, but he does have an Ipad, so I wondered if there was an accessory I could get to enhance the use of that. Then I remembered why they got the Ipad in the first place. It’s pretty much solely used to google famous people’s names they’ve forgotten, or to cheat and find clues for their crosswords – I think they could see that their constant requests for me to Google were starting to get on my wick. The other activity is offspring stalking. My mum will often refer to a tweet or Instagram caption of mine she’s read, which is always a bit unnerving as someone who tends to overshare online.
There wasn’t really anything they needed to enhance their ability to carry out their snooping or googling, and I already got them a fetching aztec print cover from the store last Christmas, so today Apple would not be the winning destination.
My mum and Dad love to sit down with a coffee and cake and watch a dark or depressing thriller, they’re particularly fond of the Skandi ones and any sort of show that makes them have intense nightmares. Although Netflix and Amazon are the go-to for my generation, I know it’s still a bit daunting for my parents, so I wondered if a box set would be a good option for a Father’s Day gift.
Dad’s actually fairly up to date with music, in part due to my insistance to switch over to music channels in advert breaks, but he’s still not one for buying many records. I think his most recent chart album was by Coldplay a few years back. So even though I’m sure he’d like the music, I decided a CD would probably end up just sitting in it’s case next to the stereo in the lounge. The only CD’s he does tend to listen to, generally at Christmas time as soundtrack to our pre roast lunch snacking, are classical ones. He did pick up an album by one of our fave classical artists Ennio Morriconne, which made me think he was a bit interested in that one. We actually saw Ennio live at the O2 a year or so ago – what an emotional and unforgettable night that was – so playing the CD would be a great way of bonding and reminiscing together.
This store covers pretty much every catagory of shopping, but the men in my life have a fairly short attention span when it comes to shopping, so I directed Dad to the areas I though most likely to appeal to his tastes and shopping wishlists. On route to the luggage department there was an area dedicated to cards and gifts, with lots of cute novelty items tailor made for Father’s Day like this kit below.
I remembered Dad had said upon returning from his last holiday in Mexico that his bumbag was on it’s last legs. I had suggested we look on Amazon, but Dad still prefers to see stuff in person so he can get a good guage about the size and have a good feel of the fabric. I wanted to see if there was one here that ticked all the boxes for him. Before any of you guys mentally throw shade at my Dad for wanting to carry on his Bum Bag wearing days, he comes form a family of bum bag devotees (myself included) and I won’t have a bad word said about the practical travel companion.
He glanced briefly over at the Swatch watches, but I got him a new leather strap watch last year so I wasn’t going to get another one as nice as they were.
While I walking round Bentalls I got a bit of a brainwave. I remembered Dad recently complaining about the state of the toaster. The plastic coating had started to rust, and there seems to be a deterioation in the mechanism, because we’re all convinced it’s not our fault that the toast keeps coming out black rather than golden brown. So I took him to the kitchen department, which is full of highly instagrammable cooking equipments and machines which will eventually fill a pinterest worthy home I hope to own one day. Okay, so I temporarily got a bit distracted by the ice cream coloured Smeg beauty’s punctuating the department, and forgot that we were shopping for Dad, but finally found some very stylish looking Toasters. The beauty of these toasters were that they were just as cute as the Smegs but at a fraction of the cost. When I played around with a cream one, which had the desired room for 4 slices, Dad seemed quite enamoured. ‘Hmmm, have I found the present?’ I wondered….
Aside from his Vans and some trainers he wears at the gym, my Dad only has a couple of day shoes, so I pointed him in the direction of Kurt Geiger’s offerings to see if he liked the look of any of those. Considering he spends most of his day pottering in the garden or doing DIY I think he felt it would be a silly purchase for him. It’s funny how we don’t think that practically when it comes to buying shoes, sometimes the heart eyes we get for a pair are just too overwhelming to ignore.
For my boyfriend’s recent 33rd birthday I bought him some Tom Ford, an item that has been on his lust list for years now. Every time we would venture into Bentalls he would spend an annoyingly lengthy amount of time testing to scents and no doubt infuriating the very patient lady on the counter. I brought my Dad towards to impressive display of luxury scents in their iconic bottles to see if he would be similarly desparate to smell of tobacco or leather. He was not, which made me think that a high end product was not the right gift for him.
Seeing as he seemed to think the price tag of the designer scents was a bit ridiculous, I wondered whether getting more toiletries/grooming products for budget from somewhere like Boots may be the better option.
He glanced at some of the offerings from L’Oreal, No.7 and Boots, but the disinterest on his face confirmed my suspicians.
At the age of 73 he’s fairly stuck in his ways. He’s also a man of routine, so I can’t imagine his incorporating anything new into his well practiced regime.
What’s Cos? says Dad looking a bit apprenhensive about venturing inside. He had always previously walked past the shop thinking it was not for him – perhaps too young, too cool, or too expensive. As he looked round the store, which is set out helpfully in colour blocks, and in a way that makes shopping easy and stress-free, he commented on how nice everything looked. Although he wasn’t in the mood to try anything on, I could tell he was really impressed, and I felt rather chuffed that I’d introduced him to another store which may give him more style options next time he goes clothes shopping.
If this shopping trip had been a few weeks ago this store may well have been somewhere I spent my Father’s Day budget. Last weekend was my brother’s wedding, and we all had the inevitable flap about what we were going to wear for the big day. From Dads point of views it was a debate about what colour suit to wear, what sort of tie (colour/print/plain) and whether we should co-ordinate as a family to ensure the photos looked nice. In the end he went for a Navy suit and an irridescant tie that looked dark pink in some light and blue in the other – I’ve not sold it well there, it was really nice, promise!
Anyway, as you can see from the picture below they have a great deal on for Father days, so if you’re Dad is someone that wears suits or has an event that requires one coming up soon, then make sure you pop in.
Ties used to be the gift I’d get every Father’s Day when I was kid. When I was growing up and my Dad was working, 90% of the time my dad was in a suit, usually loosening his tie and looking stressed after a day at the office. When he retired that’s when present buying got tricky, there was no need for yet another tie.
Over lunch Dad had mentioned that he found months like this tricky in terms of not knowing what to wear. He hinted that he was lacking when it came to a lighter summery jacket, so I suggested we have a quick look in Superdry. He said he wanted one that would go with his beige chino’s as well as his navy’s ones, so we ended up looking for a khaki green light jacket. We didn’t quite find what we were after, but saw lots of great jackets perfect for walking and skiing holidays.
Although my Dad has always been willing to pay a bit extra if he thinks that will deliver quality, this isn’t a rule he generally applies to his fashion purchases. He’d much rather spend a bit more on reliable tech equipment or a nicer hotel on holiday. I still urged him to have a quick browse in Tommy Hilger though as it’s such a lovely looking store. Even though I knew a purchases was unlikely, the chaps in the shop made it such a pleasant browsing experience. Dad really liked the quality of the products and their classic preppy feel, and seemed particularly fond of the canvas bag pictured below, but I knew he probably wouldn’t get much use out of it.
My Dads leather wallet is looking a bit ropey, you know when the leather starts to separate and you see white lines start to appear. That said, Dad is very particular about wallets….well actually he’s particular about everything, so I knew it may be tricky to guarantee I got the perfect replacement. He needs to right amount of slots for his cards and I don’t know what that amount is. But if your dad is a bit more flexible when it comes to accessories, you could probably find a nice wallet, belt, or novelty pairs of socks in Fat Face.
So in the end I went for the Toaster. I could hear my dads wise and always sensible words in my head, reminding me of the things he looks for in a gift, and his disinterest in the trivial. Is it something he needs? Yes. Is it useful? Yes. Is it good value for money? Yes. Is it inkeeping with his taste, aesthetically? Yes.
So once that mental checklist was complete and Dad was on his way back to the car, I grabbed one of the Breville boxes and took it to the checkout, feeling satisfied I’d got a gift just right for my Dad.
I know my Dad loves his breakfasts, so much so he has his bowl, plate, and coffee cup, set up on the kitchen work surface before befors he goes up to bed, so that when he comes down in the morning he’s good to go. This new, non rusty, non bread-burning toaster will bring him some joy, and that’s all you want from a gift. So like I said earlier it’s simply about finding the right gift for your father figure. Don’t be swayed by what you’re told are the ‘normal’ or ‘traditional’ gifts if your Dads tastes and interest don’t fit neatly into those catagories. If you see something and it makes you think of them, you’re probably on the right track.
Good luck, and let me know what you get!
Thanks to the Bentalls Centre Kingston for inviting me to shop for Fathers Day