You're not alone - there are millions of dads around the world who wake up on Father's Day to a selection of ties, soap on a rope and yet another set of screwdrivers. We're not sure why the kids think those are the three things you need most in the world, but it's hard to shake them of the habit once they start. You don't want to hurt their feelings after the gift has been given, but we've got some ways to artfully plant Father's Day gift ideas in their minds before the shopping even starts:
Take a page from your significant other's book - be loud and proud when you drop hints about Father's Day gifts. Most kids won't start looking for gift ideas until a day or two before Father's Day, so that's when you want to start your campaign.
When you're watching TV with the kids, don't be afraid to make a fuss when you see cool gift ideas on a commercial. There's nothing wrong with a heavy-handed, "Huh, a portable DVD player, now that's a smart idea. I've always thought one of those would be handy for watching DVDs when I'm on business trips. Hmm. What a smart invention."
Obvious? Yes. But you might need a tactic like that to break through your kids' TV haze. Try the same strategy when you're at the mall with the kids. "Look at that. That guy's got a wireless headset for his cell phone. He must love that thing. I wonder how much they go for. Look at him, just talking away while his hands are free to do other things. Smart, smart idea."
If all else fails, enlist the help of other influential players. Tell your wife and the kids' grandparents what you're hoping to get. Maybe all you really want is a day to relax and a nice steak dinner. With any luck, the family will pass your Father's Day gift list along to the kids.
The First National Bank of Dad
One of the biggest moral questions for dads on Father's Day is whether or not to fund the gifts you get from your kids. They're really not as sly as they think they are, after all - asking for $50 two days before Father's Day isn't that subtle. In a perfect world, the kids would save up a bit of their money each week then get you something small and thoughtful that they paid for themselves. In reality, they'll take your $50 and give you a $15 gift in return.
We recommend telling them you're tapped and sending them to Mom for funds. She'll read them the riot act then fork over the cash. Don't forget, you're probably going to get stuck with the bill for dinner and most of the day's activities, so it's OK to let someone else pay for your Father's Day gifts.
No matter how heavy you lay it on, there's never a guarantee that you'll get through to the kids. Sometimes the best you can do is to wear their ties out to dinner with pride, and smile knowingly at the other dads who are adjusting their SpongeBob and piano key neckwear.