by Melissa D. Jaramillo
June rolls around and we suddenly recall those important men in our lives -- our own fathers, special uncles, grandpas, brothers, and husbands. We long to find a way to express just how much they mean to our families... something really we should be doing throughout the year. Material items (sometimes known as "boy toys"), ranging from the latest electronic gadget to a new fishing pole are perhaps a good choice and would be appreciated.
This article however is meant to offer suggestions for those gifts of the heart instead. Whether you are looking for ideas for the father-to-be, for your spouse, from kids, for granddad or something more, get creative and have fun!
For the Father-to-Be
Put together a gift basket filled with appropriate items -- each with a note. Some suggestions on what to include:
- Countdown to expected due date calendar, with notes sharing your thoughts of him as a father to your child(ren) from the beginning of when you first learned of your pregnancy. Continue to update this as time progresses as it will serve as a very special keepsake of this precious time together.
- A bottle of Tylenol: Include a note sharing that this may help him survive not only the pregnancy and labor; but beyond -- especially in those first six weeks of no sleep where he begins to wonder just what on earth he was thinking!
- A gas mask -- ok, barring that a paper mask at least! Who knew something so tiny could qualify for a biological weapon?
- Framed ultrasounds or commemorative DVD/video of your pregnancy are extra special mementoes; another idea? Tape record your baby's heartbeat and include a note reminding your husband that truly this exemplifies the idea of "two hearts" (yours and his!) "beating as one" (your child's).
- Favorite children's books along with some blank tapes. Encourage your daddy-to-be to "read aloud" to your little cargo while you operate the recorder. Continue to play these throughout your pregnancy and rest assured that as your child grows these will continue to be favorites. (Suggestion: Make more than one copy and store the second in a safe place just in case)
Create a Scrapbook: For this you may want to journey through your relationship and ultimate path to parenthood together. Begin with a "how you met" page and record your memories of when you knew you were falling in love. Find ways to incorporate whatever little things you may have saved.
- Ticket stubs, receipts, pictures or items such as a seashell that reminds you of that walk on the beach.
- Still have that home pregnancy test? You can include that here as well!
- Don't forget to write down how you told him the news! Incorporate things that will remind him of the pregnancy journey thus far
- Perhaps a coupon from Dairy Queen, where you frequently have asked him to run to satisfy that latest craving!
Get Creative! Does your spouse have a sense of humor? Some amusing ideas include using fabric paints for hats and t-shirts. Allow your imagination to run wild! Some personal favorites included taking a hat, pinning on a pacifier (or more than one!) The saying written on: "Daddy-To-Be.. the paci is mine!" We also designed a t-shirt -- "Daddy-To-Be" with an arrow pointing down to his belly. Underneath the words: "It's sympathy pains -- really!"
For Dad/Granddad (from kids)
• Photos depicting some favorite moments of child(ren) interacting with dad/granddad are always welcome. You can get even more resourceful by using these as backgrounds or frames for a desk set, paperweight, even a coffee mug! If using these to create a "Daddy (Granddad) & Me" book, be certain to do so from a child's perspective as much as possible. Age appropriate kids can create their own!
• Calendar: Similar to the above, help your child choose favorite photos, adding a note for each, and create a timeless calendar keepsake
• Tshirt: Using various colored fabric paints, allow child(ren) to place handprints all over the shirt. Print a favorite saying in the center or on the back - "# 1 Daddy" or "Held captive by my heart". A favored variation for us was to use footprints instead (going from the smallest to largest child) -- and the saying "Treading carefully for they are following in my footsteps." My husband treasures that one still today.
• Create a video/dvd (or even audio cassette) of your little one(s). If old enough have them sing a special song or share one of their favorite memories of their time together.
• A show: Older children can dress up and put on a play or musical just for the day! Create invitations and give dad/grandpa the V.I.P. treatment.
• Surprise dad with a picnic lunch or dinner at a favorite spot - whether by the lake, a quiet stream, or even in the backyard! If kids are old enough allow them to serve.
• Have fun! Allow kids to plan an afternoon's activities allowing dad to be a kid again. Suggested supplies: a bucket of filled water balloons; homemade bubbles with a giant wand (coat hanger can be used); outdoor chalk to let dad show off his hopscotch talent; plan a bonfire -- complete with all the makings for s'mores to finish things off.
• After the above -- allow dad some quiet time to relax! Whether in a hammock or his favorite easy chair. Let kids offer him a kiss goodnight and a "thank you" for being my dad.
Father's Day Gifts from You
While typically Father's Day is focused on the relationship between children and their families, there's nothing wrong with showing your significant other you appreciate him, too -- in a very special way! Give Father's Day a much welcomed boost by tossing together love, a bit of romance, spice and perhaps a hint of "naughty" his way. Trust us -- it will be a Father's Day he'll remember!
• Treasure hunt: Offer your spouse a map to find the "buried treasure." Create clues which lead him to his ultimate present (whatever that may be). We had a lot of fun with this one year as I sent my husband throughout our house, our neighborhood and yard only to end up back home to find a pair of tickets to a favorite sporting event that was coming up soon. A variation of this (actually used for Valentine's Day) was a Scavenger Hunt that sent him in his car to various spots around town, requiring him to go into establishments, ask for a particular person with a certain (extremely silly!) phrase. He then received a paid for item and the clue to his next stop.
• Coupon books are always popular. Offer everything from a car wash to a back massage or favorite meal out. Of course, for those looking for something more, you are free to present whatever you want. Try this as a suggestion to heat things up and most definitely warm more than dad's heart: Put the focus on intimacy, desire, and romance versus the actual sexual act(s). For examples, "Share your fantasy with me and I'll do my best to make it come true" or "Exchange this coupon for a night of submission -- your choice (me or you). The only catch? No intercourse allowed! *Side note -- always be certain that you only offer what you both are comfortable with. Setting boundaries is an important part of your relationship and should be known ahead of time.
• Suggestive hint: A box with a new piece of lingerie and massage oil.
• Write him a letter. This takes time but is one of my husband's most treasured gifts; he rereads frequently. It's often therapeutic for your relationship as well since you focus in on everything from what helped you fall in love to what you love about him today.
Include those moments that simply captured your heart; let him know why you admire him as a father. Don't forget to let him know that you are extremely grateful for this opportunity to share in both the journey of parenthood but also in the love of a lifetime together. Share your thoughts of the future -- perhaps projecting 5 years, 10 years, or 20 years in the future.
• Create a shadow box to be mounted on the wall. In the center, frame a picture of yourself and your children (either professional or have a friend help take one for you.) Surround it with words that describe your thoughts of him. You may include other tangible items by gluing on things that present memory of your life as parents together.
• Transform a room in your home for the night. If possible, arrange for the kids to be gone even for just a few hours. Ideas may include posting travel posters to exotic destinations on the wall, hanging "twinkle" Christmas lights around the room, playing related music, dancing with your husband by candlelight and eating a simple supper picnic style. Kids at home? It is okay. Feed them early and then allow them to serve as waiters (if old enough) or simply to witness the two of you enjoying one another's company.
• Arrange to have a series of photos taken of just the two of you. Whether professionally done or not, the last time you may have done so could date back to your wedding day. Take time to remember that you are a couple first, and parents as a result of the love of that relationship.
• King for the Day treatment: Offer dad the opportunity to choose what he wants for the day. You can even make him a crown and wrap that up as a part of your gift. Give him an opportunity to create a list of things that he would like to do today and then do your best to fulfill it as closely as possible! From breakfast in bed to enjoying 30 minutes of blissful silence doing nothing at all -- my spouse considers this a real treat! Ladies, don't worry! We'll include this in our Mother's Day suggestions as well!
Whatever gifts you may choose, there is one certainty! These dads will be grateful to know that they are appreciated, thought of and loved.
Melissa Jaramillo is mom to many. She's passionate about building, encouraging, and strengthening families on this adventure known as parenthood!
Copyright © Melissa Jaramillo. Permission to republish granted to Pregnancy.org.