A Gifting Expert’s Guide to the Perfect Father’s Day Gift for Every Type of Dad

We’ve all heard the saying “It’s the thought that counts.”  And while, sure, this is true, there are few things in life that bring me more joy and satisfaction than finding the perfect gift for someone.  I would love to get paid just to come up with gift ideas for people. You have to think about the giftee’s personality, as well as the context in which the gift will be given, any relevant history between giver and giftee, and what personal touches or inside jokes can be incorporated to make it THE perfect gift.  And of course you can’t forget the card. The card should never be an afterthought. The card sets the tone for the gift and the card can make or break the landing of the gift. So of course when I realized Father’s Day was just around the corner, I knew I wanted to write a gift guide.

But first, a brief anecdote.  My in-laws do a secret-snowman gift exchange every Christmas and last year I drew the name of my brother-in-law, Aaron.  Aaron is quite the prankster; always looking for an opportunity to inject humor into every situation. He also travels a ton for work and has two small daughters.  So I knew his perfect gift needed to be funny, and also kind of mess with him. I came across a blog post about etsy shops that would make personalized stuffed animals to look like your pet and the lightbulb went off.  If someone was making personalized stuffed animals, surely someone was making personalized stuffed people? And if I had someone create a stuffed Aaron, I could give it to him and tell him that it was so his daughters would never even realize he was gone.  Hilarious.

Here’s the custom plush toy of my brother-in-law that I ordered from the Etsy shop Allthingsfuzzy:  


And now on to the main event:

The Perfect Father’s Day Gift for Every Type of Dad

For the Sentimental Dad:

  • A portrait of a beloved pet, hero, or perhaps of the man himself.  You’ll have to decide what vibe will go over best. Although I’d happily accept a portrait of myself as a gift, I think personally I would prefer one of my frenchie, Mona, or my hero, Oprah (hint, hint, dear Husband).  If you’re artistic, this is a gift you can DIY which makes it extra special. But if you’d rather entrust a professional, etsy and instagram are great places to find talented artists to create customized masterpieces.
Image courtesy of Joan Lemay

This is the portrait I commissioned of my mom’s dog Dixie by artist Joan Lemay.  Lemay’s signature is the colorful wallpaper she puts in the background of her portraits.  She will incorporate whatever colors and objects you request into the wallpaper pattern to represent key elements of the subject’s personality.  Although I considered requesting a paper featuring cans of green beans for Dixie’s portrait (her favorite food), I opted for flowers instead because I wanted the painting to go with the rest of the art in my mom’s house and canned veggies aren’t really her aesthetic.  It’s best to keep the giftee in mind when planning their personalized present.

  • If you want to go the art route, but a portrait doesn’t feel right, a framed photo or art print of a location or item close to Dad’s heart can be just as meaningful.  The website Minted is a great resource for art prints from independent artists, which you can buy framed or unframed in a variety of sizes with customizable framing and matting options.  
Images courtesy of minted.com

For a more economical option,  Jenny’s Print Shop, founded by interior designer Jenny Komenda of Juniper Studio, is an innovative new way to buy wall art.  According to the shop’s website, Jenny’s Print Shop is “a digital print shop where all original, high resolution prints are just $15 each. Immediately after making your purchase you will be emailed a link that allows you to download your images to your computer and then print them however you want! No need to pay for expensive framing with limited sizes and finish options. You have complete flexibility to use the images the way you want to use them!”  The shop currently has 50 prints to choose from with more coming soon.


Image courtesy of jennysprintshop.com

For easy and affordable printing and framing of your downloadable print, I recommend checking out Framebridge.  If you listen to podcasts, you’ve probably heard an ad for Framebridge at some point, because they seem to be in a competition with Casper Mattresses for most podcast episodes sponsored.  Framebridge is much cheaper than traditional framing and you can either mail in your art, or download to their site if you went the Jenny’s Print Shop route. If you’re lucky enough to have an awesome neighborhood framing shop like I do, check to see what they do with the scraps from their large custom jobs.  My framer takes the leftover pieces which are usually from quite expensive frames, and uses them to make small standard sized frames which they sell at a significant discount. They also cut custom mats for a reasonable fee, usually less than twenty dollars.

For the Dad who likes to read + appreciates a well-styled coffee table:

  • A coffee table book about a topic he’s interested in is both personal and something he’s likely to actually enjoy.  I don’t know your dad at all, so here are a couple options that might be great or terrible depending on who he is as a person:
Image courtesy of amazon.com
Image courtesy of amazon.com
Image courtesy of amazon.com
  • A Homesick candle that transports him back to his favorite place or memory.
Image courtesy of homesickcandles.com

Have you heard about Homesick Candles? I’m obsessed with them.  I don’t get any sort of kickback for my Homesick evangelizing, but honestly they probably should be paying me because I tell everyone about how great these candles are.  These candles are SAFE (plastic and lead-free wick; paraben, petroleum and phthalate free; 100% natural soy wax) and attractive.  But the best part is that each scent captures the smell of a particular location (hence the name).  My husband gave me the Florida and Washington D.C. candles and in both cases they nailed the scent. Here is the description of the Washington D.C.  candle: Recall the very best parts of this nation’s capital with a fragrance reminiscent of cherry blossoms in full bloom, stone-faced buildings, and leather-bound books in a sunlit library. Woody notes of cedar and vetiver complement a zesty orange and amber finish.

Currently Homesick has candles for all 50 states, many U.S. cities, and a handful of countries.  Their latest collection is called Memories and includes the nostalgic scents of Friday Night Football, Grandma’s Kitchen, Books, and Beach Cottage to name a few.

Image courtesy of homesickcandles.com

For the Caffeine-Loving Dad:

  • A french press and some whole coffee beans to take his morning coffee game up a notch.  Unless you have the space and money for one of those giant italian espresso machines like they have at fancy coffee shops, your best bet for a great cup of coffee at home is a french press and Dad deserves greatness.  I’m a big fan of the brand Bodum; I bought my Bodum french press six years ago and it hasn’t failed me yet.
Images courtesy of amazon.com

Whole bean coffee freshly ground is the height of coffee snobbery, so if you’re going to give Dad a french press, you might as well give him a bag of beans so he can get the full experience.  My favorite beans are the Lavazza super crema and I’m not even going to give you any other recs because these are the best.  And…If you’re getting him the french press and the beans, why not go the extra mile and get him a coffee grinder while you’re at it.  If you want one that won’t break, but doesn’t cost an actual fortune, I highly recommend this one by Baratza.  It’s not cheap, but quality falls off pretty sharply when you dip below the hundred dollar price point.

For the Foodie Dad:

  • A Grill press for making next-level grilled cheeses. One of my husband’s favorite gifts of all time is the grill press we got as a wedding present.  It really elevates a run-of-the-mill breakfast sandwich or grilled cheese. If you have a Dad who takes his sandwiches seriously, this is a no-brainer. null
Images courtesy of amazon.com


Our cast iron skillet is the go-to cooking vessel in my house and there are so many reasons to love them: 

    • They can be used on the stove top AND in the oven or even over a campfire
    • They are perfect for both cooking and baking
    • They make your food taste better because of how they absorb the drippings
    • They’re naturally nonstick (through a process called seasoning where the fat molecules from cooking oil bond with the pan to form a hard nonstick surface)
  • An Edible Magazine subscription
Image courtesy of edibleboston.com

Admittedly, not everyone lives in a region with an Edible publication, but if you do and you have a Dad who loves beautiful photography, quirky recipes, the concept of “farm-to-table,” under-the-radar hipster eateries, and artisanal purveyors (think microbreweries, rooftop gardens, and urban chicken coops) then this is the publication for him.  It comes out once per season (aka four times a year) and will ensure that your dad knows about all the cool farmer’s markets and vegan bakeries before any of his friends.

For the Dad who just likes to chill:

images courtesy of Pinterest

If Dad’s favorite chair also happens to be kind of ugly, this gift gives to the whole family by working to obscure the lazy-boy from full view.  

  • Stylish slippers for lounging in comfort while staying chic AF

Choose this pair from J. Crew for the dad who appreciates a classic look:

Image courtesy of jcrew.com


Or these Mahabis for the dad who won’t settle for less than the Rolls Royce of house shoes.  


Image courtesy of mahabis.com

For the practical dad, opt for these Uggs that my husband swears by because the sole is durable enough to wear outside the house when grabbing the mail or taking the dog out.

Screen Shot 2018-05-30 at 12.18.18 PM.png

Image courtesy of amazon.com

For the Forgetful Dad:


Image courtesy of amazon.com

For the New or Soon-to-be Dad:

  • A baby bag that he’ll actually want to carry, because it’s 2018 people, and both parents deserve their own baby gear that suits their personal style.  


Image courtesy of amazon.com

The Bag Nation Diaper Bag Backpack with Stroller Straps & Changing Pad is sporty, classy, practical, and holds everything you need for an adventure with the bebe.  It’s basically the perfect baby bag. Side bar: You may have noticed I’m calling it a baby bag instead of a diaper bag.  I’d like to humbly suggest a rebranding of the term diaper bag, because it’s so unappealing.  Who came up with it anyway? Parents already have to literally sniff their kid’s butts to see if they need a fresh diaper, I think they at least deserve a name for their work bag that has a little more dignity.  No one wants to tether their brand to the word diaper, (except literal diaper companies, of course) but who knows, if we start calling it a baby bag, maybe Gucci will suddenly be clamoring to create the “it bag” of baby bags for New York Fashion Week.  

OK! I’ve gotten us completely off topic, so it’s probably a good thing that this was the last item on the list!  I hope you found this gift guide helpful and are inspired to move past the tie or “World’s Greatest Dad” mug this year to get your dad a gift he’ll actually like.  We all know it’s the thought that counts, but isn’t the best case scenario one where your giftee appreciates the thought AND the actual gift?

One last thought before I go.  Maybe you don’t have a dad around to celebrate.  Consider recognizing someone who has stepped in to fill that role for you.  I have a single mom and I always wish her a happy Mother’s Day and Father’s Day because she had to be both when I was growing up, and I appreciate how much work that was.  This is an opportunity to choose your family, and you shouldn’t hold back from showing someone how thankful you are for them just because of a technicality.

Alright, that’s all I’ve got. See you next week!

Peace, Love & Interior Joy


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