On Sunday we fete dear old dad. And while most contemporary households no longer point to him as the singular bread winner, he remains the role model for the family, the person who is often called upon to do the “heavy lifting” so to speak whether that be manual labor or filling in for mom in her absence.
Today’s dads participate increasingly in practically every aspect of family life—from making the “nine-to-five” trek each day to domestic responsibilities—yet their worth in retail terms lags considerably behind mom. The National Retail Federation (NRF) has provided confirmation to a long-standing suspicion in that we will spend much more on mom for her day than we will for dad. This year, Americans are expected to spend approximately $12.5 billion on Father’s Day, compared to the $20 billion we shelled out for mom last month. These figures average to about $113 per father, versus an average of $169 per mother. Why is there such a glaring difference?
Why do mom’s gifts cost more?
“It’s just harder to buy for men,” said Robert Passikoff, president of the retail consultancy Brand Keys. He indicated that people tend to feel a bigger emotional link to mom than to dad, but added a more pragmatic reason: there’s a lot more things to buy for mom… and they cost more.
“Kids will traditionally buy a card and flowers and an item of clothing for mom,” Passikoff said. “They’ll take her out to brunch or dinner, things like that. For dads, it can be difficult to find something that he likes and therefore you’ll find gifts like a tie, cologne or a gift card. The kids don’t decide to spend less on dad, they just end up doing so.”
Gift cards tend to get more popular each year and are available practically everywhere you shop or dine. The NRF says that about 64 percent of consumers will give dad one of these handy cards good for everything from a steak dinner to a set of tires. Mom does even better with gift cards with 81 percent of consumers opting for this gift. An NRF national poll conducted last month found that more than six in 10 respondents planned to get dad a gift card. About four in 10 said they’ll get dad something like a sweater or tie, and another four in 10 will treat dad to dinner or tickets to a ball game.
Gift cards more popular than ever
“It’s not a contest between mom and dad,” Passikoff explained, “but rather people are increasingly busy these days and don’t spend a lot time dwelling over a gift item.” He said gift cards allow the recipient to select what they want at a specific outlet. Most people have an idea of what their parents like and enjoy, so these days they’ll opt for a gift card and let the parent shop at their leisure. “Gift cards can come in handy for [some] fashion items because they don’t have to worry if they’ve selected the wrong size or unflattering (or “ugly”) design,” Passikoff noted.
Another survey taken a few years ago, this one by RetailMeNot.com, revealed that 81 percent of adults feel that both holidays should be treated equally. More than three-quarters of respondents, however, said that Mother’s Day tends to get more attention or “celebration” than Father’s Day. The survey found that “quality time” with the family (e.g. dinner, grilling, an outing) is the gift that most dads hope to receive. Ties and the ever-present “#1 Dad” T-shirts tend to be the least-desired presents.
The best gifts come from the heart
When shown a list of possible gift categories, only 35 percent of fathers who responded to the survey said they wanted some sort of gift that costs money. Moms, on the other hand, tended to like moderate to pricey gifts and would prefer that someone spend money on them as opposed to a homemade gift…or time with the family. Of the fathers surveyed, only 3 percent said they preferred time alone over other gift options, compared with 11 percent of moms who wished for a little time away from the kids and spouse on Mother’s Day. As well, basically half (51 percent) of adult respondents reported that they typically will spend between $1 and $100 on a Father’s Day gift. Mom still wins out in the gift price category with 67 percent of respondents indicating they definitely intend to spend up to $100 for a Mother’s Day gift. Six in 10 respondent dads (60 percent) did not expect their wife or partner to get them a gift for Father’s Day.
The most appreciative Father’s Day gift comes from the heart. Big plans are not always necessary because it’s often simple to schedule an enjoyable activity with your dad. Maybe he likes fishing or simply playing catch. Youngsters can score a lot of points by offering to wash the car, mow the lawn, etc. to allow dad a rare rest day. A card can go a long way and can sometimes mean much more than a gift. Get dad a card that fits his personality; a funny card if he likes jokes, or a sentimental one to show your dad how much he means to you. You can make him a card. By doing this, you can make it truly yours and tailor it specifically for him.
Let dad relax for a change
Sunday should be a special day for dad so, for a change, let him do what he wants and that includes sleeping in. If your father is the type of person who likes to take some time for himself, Father’s Day is the perfect opportunity. Early on you can help him enjoy the day by cooking and serving him breakfast in bed. Small things like this show dad that he’s important. Father’s Day can be a great day for the whole family so if you are planning a family event, get everyone involved to make it a fun day. And while you’re at it, think about including all the dads in the family such as uncles, brothers, grandfathers, etc. and have a big dinner.
If you choose to celebrate Father’s Day with an activity, consider building the celebration around an activity that all of you can enjoy. Ask yourself what kind of dad your father is. Knowing what your dad likes will help you plan an activity that he’ll enjoy. How about organizing a family picnic or barbecue? If you’re old enough, maybe all you need to do to celebrate Father’s Day is to have a drink and swap stories with him. You may find yourself reminiscing over old photos of you and he doing fun things together. In this instance, a great gift idea could be a photo album or photo slideshow. You may be surprised at how many things the two of you have forgotten and how much they mean to you.
Being a father is a tough job, maybe more so today than at anytime in modern history. There’s a lot more “multi-tasking.” Show him your appreciation by making a handmade card that lists the five top things he does for you that you’re grateful for. If you are one of several children, get them all together on Sunday and each pick one of his “honey-do” chores and take care of it. You can help dad with something he’s having trouble with. If, for example, dad isn’t computer savvy, give him a quick lesson or help him clean old computer files to make it run more smoothly.
Remember to tell dad you love him
You’ve done a lot for dad, so near the evening give him some time to relax if he wants to. Ask him if there’s anything else you can do for him. And just before bed, be sure and tell your father that you love him. Gifts “from the heart” don’t cost a penny and will live on for years to come. As well, don’t forget the camera. Pictures will help both of you remember the day and can be used as part of a gift next year. If you feel that you’ve let your dad down, Sunday might be a good time to tell him you’re sorry for past hurts. Use Father’s Day as an opportunity to “mend old fences.”
While your relationship with your father may not always be perfect, it has shaped some elements in your life in important ways. Sure, you may resent times when your dad has been strict, but appreciate his efforts to steer you in the right direction. Let him know that even if you don’t always see eye-to-eye, Father’s Day is not about your differences, but about acknowledging that you love and respect him.
If you’re struggling to select the perfect gift for dad, a unique website called ugiftideas.com—basically a social recommendation platform for gift-giving—suggests a novel list of the latest items most of which are available on-line, while others may be in stock at your favorite retailer possibly located at the Antelope Valley Mall:
The latest in on-line gifts
—Beer of the Month Club. Dad will receive a dozen bottles of premium or craft brews each month. $110.85 at Amazingclubs.com;
—For the perfect steak every time whether on the grill, stovetop or oven, a thermometer is an excellent choice. $59.95 at Thegrommet.com;
—If not the thermometer, why not an eight-piece set of grill tools? They come in different colors and cost $59.95 at TexasIrons.com;
—How about a custom caricature? Send a photograph of dad and $99 to GiveAcaricature.com and they’ll return a delightful likeness that he can display with pride;
—Help dad relax with a G2 Levo Deluxe Floor Stand for tablets and E-readers. It extends over the barcalounger or couch. Cost: $189 at Brookstone.com;
—Is dad a hockey lover? Why not present him with two reclaimed pucks from his favorite team? Price: $125 for the pair at Uncommongoods.com;
—Whether he’s a duffer or a scratch golfer, a personalized driver head with a crest indicates style on the fairway. Price: $45.95 at Personalizationmall.com;
—Allow dad to show some of his most special moments with a Custom Photo Light Box from LightArtBox.com. Price: $160.
And at fine retailers
Your fine retailers and specialty shops may have these and other items:
—Leather watch box and storage valet. Price: $59.99;
—Leather charging station and valet. Price: $79.99;
—“Define Him” glass block featuring an etched ode to dad. Price: $19.99;
—Leather wallet with stainless steel money clip. Price: $44.99;
—Canvas and suede travel set. Price: $29;
—“Game Day” stoneware chip & dip dish. Price: $39
—Men’s 5-Star terrycloth robe. Price: $89;
—“Reasons Why” coffee mug. Price: $14.99;
—Five-piece whiskey decanter set. Price: $59.99.