My Dad Doesn’t Love Gifts — So for Father’s Day, I Get Him Something He Can Give Away

published Jun 12, 2023
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A dad holding a baby outside
Credit: Meg Asby

My dad is a generous soul. Pre-retirement, in his small-town shop, he would let people buy large appliances “on credit,” even if he knew they could never pay for that dishwasher or dryer. He drives an ancient pickup truck, but bought brand-new vehicles for each of his teenage kids. If anyone needs a place to stay, he offers his camp house, or even a room in his own home, rent-free. So on Father’s Day, I’m always eager to show him the same generosity he shows literally everyone in his vicinity. 

The problem is, he doesn’t like stuff. He’s not a gadget guy; he doesn’t even have a cell phone. His two hobbies are jogging and television, and he already has everything he needs for those. He also has no interest in “Grandpa” gifts (he prefers to be called “J.R.”). 

I’ve tried everything: joggers and T-shirts (boring), fitness tracker (unused, obviously, see: no cell phone), and, worst of all, a yoga mat for a man who probably couldn’t even name one yoga pose if his life depended on it. (In my defense, I thought he could use it for sit-ups!)

Credit: Meg Asby

But finally, I found the one gift that he actually likes: a food basket. To be clear, he doesn’t eat the items in the food basket, or at least not all of them. In the almost four decades I’ve known him, my dad has eaten the same thing for dinner every single night: baked chicken, for heart health. He’s decidedly not a foodie. No, Dad loves the food basket because when people stop by his home, he can offer fruit, cheese, salami, nuts, chocolate, whatever you like! Take the whole shebang and share it with your kids. Can you use the basket for anything? It’s yours! 

What my dad really likes is giving things away, and this “gift” helps him do just that. 

I usually go with the standard bearer of food baskets, Harry & David, out of habit, and because it’s easy. If your father figure is more of a foodie, he might prefer something from Goldbelly. To stretch out the fun, you could go with a food subscription service — I’ve really enjoyed Coava Coffee and American Cocktail Club. There’s basically a monthly delivery for everything you can eat or drink, including bacon, hot sauce, or even marshmallows.

Sometimes Father’s Day sneaks up on me, and I miss the window for delivery. When this happens, I wish I lived close enough to fill a basket with goodies from Trader Joe’s, as there isn’t a single one in my dad’s rural county. 

If you have the time and inclination, you can also craft your own basket of homemade goodies for a special touch. It’s more affordable that way, too — especially if you repurpose a basket you have at home. I once filled a box with homemade watermelon rind preserves for my dad — a taste of his childhood — and he was genuinely touched. I know, because he didn’t give them away.

Buy: Harry & David Father’s Day Summer Crate of Snacks, $69.99