Nifty Father's Day Gifts for Every Budget

by Julie Snyder

Happy Father's Day!

Today, show Dad how much you value and respect him. Give the kids an opportunity to thank their dad with a day of fun-filled, memory-making activities for the whole family!

Let's Get Creating Those Gifts!

And now in the words of Kas Winters, author, family fun specialist and our Ask the Family Activities Expert, "According to Einstein, imagination is greater than knowledge. So let's get it working overtime and start creating!"

From the Kids

kids hands on shirtHelp your child feel part of the giving by assigning extra chores. Go shopping and use that money to get something for dad. Would your child rather make something? These suggestions can get the gift started.

A hug in a shirt: Dip both hands in colored fabric paint and put hand prints on a new t-shirt. You can arrange so the hands look like they're coming around the back and giving Dad hugs. He'll love it!

It's me! Glue popsicle or craft sticks together and paint or decorate. Once it dries, put a photo of the child in the frame. Personalize just for Dad. Does he play piano or guitar? Print up music and use a mat board to frame a photo of him and your child.

Super cookie: Keep it simple and use refrigerator dough for chocolate chip cookies or make your cookie dough from scratch. Dad will love it either way. Instead of making a couple dozen individual chocolate chip cookies, your child can press all of the dough on a greased pizza pan. Bake it (might take longer than normal). When your giant cookie has cooled, decorate with frosting.

Make a placemat: Kids use washable markers to make a place mat for dad that says "King for a Day" or "Best Dad." Start with a piece of 9" x 12" construction paper. Decorate it in any way you choose -- using crayons, paints, handprints, markers, stamps or cut and pasted pieces of paper. When you're finished, either take it to a copy shop and ask them to laminate it for you or cover both sides with ConTact® peper. then bring on a meal fit for the man of the day.

Paintings: Turn your child loose with a blank piece of paper or canvas and plenty of colors. With younger kids, confine the mess by setting up "the studio" in the bathtub! Some dads love artwork. Others "ooooh and aaaah" at first, then delegate the it to a desk pile where it gradually composts and is thrown out. You know your man so if he fits this description, skip to the next suggestion.

Decorated pencil holder: Wash and dry an empty soup can (those with pull tabs are not as sharp). Have your child glue craft sticks vertically around the can; hold in place with a rubber band until dry. Paint the sticks and decorate the can in any way -- paint, pieces of wood, craft foam, fabric, stickers, buttons. Give it to Dad to hold pencils, scissors and other small tools.

Gifts with a Purpose

Toy repair kit: Put together a Dad or Grandpa's toy repair kit. Start with a handy box or cool container and put a few simple tools, duct tape, batteries and other stuff useful for fixing broken toys.

A book of memories: Help create a book for dad. Spend an evening listing all those special "Dad and me" times. Then your child can draw pictures to match the story line. Read it to Dad on the big day!

silly faceThe gift of silly: Do something silly! Have a face-making contest. See who can pop the most bubbles. Play garbage can basketball.

Silly doesn't cost anything. It doesn't take a lot of time. Silly builds relationships and creates great memories. Have a silly time with dad on his special day. ~Kas Winters

Time with Dad: What does Dad like to do? Help your child find a way to share it with him today. Play some music together, challenge him to game of chess or watch car races. Talk together and listen to what he has to say. You'll both be glad you did.

Wild and Wacky Activities

"Goofy golf" game: Encourage your child to build a course using empty cardboard tubes (wrapping paper, paper towels etc.). Play golf in the living room or backyard. Take pictures!

Homemade ice cream: Use an ice cream maker or make your own "machine" with a bag or can packed in a larger bag or can of ice layered with salt. Take turns rolling the can or squishing the bags -- lots. Open after 20 minutes and find ice cream! Add chocolate, nuts, fruit or make into ice cream floats.

Find the kisses: Hide chocolate kisses all over the house and let Dad search for them. Of course, he might have to share.

Pizza faces: Make small pizzas or use pita breads as dough. "Decorate" the pizza with pieces of pepperoni, cut veggies, olives, etc. Try to make the funniest face. While the pizzas bake, create (and eat) mini faces of sliced cucumbers, herb-cream cheese, carrot curls and left over cut veggies.

Watermelon seed spitting contest: Watermelon and barbecues go together, right? Be sure your watermelon has seeds. Draw a starting line and spit those seeds! Who has the best technique? Who can make it three minutes without giggling?

You're Going to Be a Dad (Granddad)

Congratulations! Surprise your husband and father with unique. Write "Happy Father's Day" in washable markers all over the windows and mirrors throughout the house! Then give a photo album and have the first page show positive pregnancy test or an ultrasound photo.

Our Members Ask

First Father's Day: What would you suggest for a man who's celebrating his first Father's day and how can you get a stepchild involved? We have four-month-old twins and I have a five-year-old son from a previous marriage.

ANSWER: The first Father's Day should include of photo of dad and children. It doesn't have to be framed. It can be put on a shirt, a mouse pad, ad coffee cup or mug -- along with the word DAD (or whatever he is called). If your son isn't ready to do a "dad" thing, don't push it. Just let him join in the day's special events. Maybe he can help make a special meal for dad or plan an activity so that he is involved but not necessarily providing a wrapped "gift" -- if that is an issue.

He has everything! What can you get a man who says he doesn't need or what anything? I ask him and he makes a suggestion then it ends up in the Goodwill box a couple of months later.

ANSWER: Instead of a present, give an activity or an event. Kids love setting up the hunt and playing the games. For example, create a treasure hunt and present dad with the map. Dress up like pirates. Wear eye patches! The real gift is the time spent together and the memories of the activity.

Photo courtesy of Kas Winters.