Friday, July 3, 2009

Father's Day Gift Ideas

June is all about men

Originally published June 6, 2009 in the Santa Cruz Sentinel

June means Father’s Day—a day when deserving fathers are honored by their appreciative children, and maybe even their grateful wives. My own dad (whose 82nd birthday is also in June) and my husband (also born in June) may be like yours: they’re difficult to buy for and don’t really need very much. So how do I express my gratefulness in a special way (four times!) in June? While I’m pondering that question, here are some ideas that might help you celebrate the men in your life.

  1. Start with a card. Sometimes the very best gift is a card with a personalized, straight-from-the-heart message. My kids have made many cards over the years with nothing more than paper, scissors and glue, and I know they are treasured because my husband has kept them all.

  1. Consider his hobbies. What does your dad collect, or read about, or like to do in his spare time? My dad collects coins, so one year I made him a piggy bank in the likeness of his favorite superhero, Wonder Woman, using a balloon base, paper mache and paint. Likewise, my husband collects major league baseball jerseys—the kind that are “licensed.” So this year I asked my husband to tell me about his collection, and what makes a really great jersey, so that I could make him an “unlicensed” replica jersey of his own design. (Instructions provided below)

  1. Decorate something he uses often. Add an “I love you” his tool box. Or paint images of big fish on a new tackle box. Create and decorate a remote control holder or a drink caddie for his favorite arm chair, featuring his favorite TV character or quote. Knit or sew a golf club cover or iPod pouch. Floor mats, book bags, laptop cases are just yearning to be embellished.

  1. Try Petroglyph or The Crafter’s Studio in downtown Santa Cruz. You can paint ceramic bowls, mugs, or a keepsake box at Petroglyph—and it’s really fun. Or learn to sew a tie, a shirt or pajama pants for dad at The Crafter’s Studio.

  1. Remind him of all the things that make him special. Make a decoupaged keepsake box decorated with references to all this talents, hobbies, jobs, and sidelines—a lifetime of interests and pursuits.

  1. Be an historian. Write down questions and interview your dad about various aspects of his life such as growing up, serving in the military, school years, his jobs, his family life, his friends. Tape record all his reflections and anecdotes and then transcribe them to give as bound gifts in the future.

  1. How about a new wallet? Go online for instructions on making a wallet from paper, duct tape, plastic bags, cassette tapes, milk cartons, FedEx envelopes, or playing cards.

  1. Create a retreat. Maybe Dad really needs his own quiet space for internet surfing, writing, drawing or napping. Create an outdoor “room” in the backyard with privacy screens surrounding a hammock. Decorate the screens with pictures of sand, palm trees and umbrella drinks. Or, if you’re handy with power tools, build him his own little studio retreat.

  1. Make a movie with the camcorder. Dust off that camcorder or use your digital camera to make a film. We called ours “A Day Without Dad” and my daughters hammed up all the nightmarish scenarios they could come up with (such as eating unhealthy snacks while watching non-stop cartoons), while I did the filming. Put your movie on YouTube so he can watch it all the time.

  1. Personalize a button, a keychain or a t-shirt. Iron on a family photo with ink-jet printable fabric. Add a photo to a keychain or pin-on button. There are kits in craft stores for personalizing just about anything. Or make a frame and put a favorite photo inside. Google “What to make for Father’s Day” for a lots more craft ideas.
  2. Baseball Jersey: To make a personalized baseball jersey, surf the internet for a blank jersey in the right color and size. (I found my gray warp knit jersey at They may also sell you a blank shirt at a digitized embroidery shop—although, once there, you may be tempted to just let them do the whole job.) Buy a small piece of polyester knit or spandex for the letters and numbers. Trace around a letter/number template (purchased or computer printed from an enlarged font) with disappearing-ink fabric pen onto the knit fabric.

To keep the letters from stretching, iron-on medium-weight fusible interfacing to the back of the knit before cutting out each letter. Trace around each cut-out letter with disappearing ink for correct placement on the shirt. To keep the shirt fabric from stretching, add light-weight fusible interfacing to the inside of the shirt in the approximate location of the letters; then baste each letter in place on the outside of the shirt. Sew around the edges of each letter with a tight, wide zigzag stitch. Add matching trim from the notions department or use polyester shoe laces (I found great laces at the Converse Outlet in Gilroy.)

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