Are you feeling stumped about what to get your father for his birthday or a holiday this year? If your dad is over age 60, it might be time to rethink the gifts you give him. Retirement and advancing age may require a new slant on old standards--or 60 can open up a whole new world of gift ideas. Jot down some of the suggestions below and decide if they fit your dad.
Hobbies and Sports
Take inventory of your dad's hobbies. Does he enjoy fishing, music or golf? As your dad gets older, he might benefit from different grips or gadgets that can increase the enjoyment of his favorite activities. Visit a sporting goods store and ask about new products to update his arsenal. Many men enjoy listening to music from their youth. A CD of hits from the Big Band era, the 50's or the 60's might be just the ticket. Does he enjoy a particular sports team? Maybe he'd like a mug, photo or framed autographed photo of his favorite team. Many colleges also have on-line shops where you can order items that recall his college years.
House, Garden and Car
Visualize your dad's home and yard. As your dad ages, so do his household tools and appliances. Are there items that need to be replaced or updated? Does your dad need a new lawn chair, are his hoses still in good repair or would he enjoy retirement in the comfort of a hammock? Stroll through the local garden shop. There are portable benches and long-handle tools to make yard work less stressful on his back. Is his eyesight changing? Maybe he could use a brighter lamp to read by. Would he like a new magazine subscription or a crossword puzzle book? Many come in large print formats now. Don't forget Dad's car. Is it time for new floor mats? Would it help to have a cargo holder so things don't roll around in the trunk?
Check out your father's wardrobe. Maybe he could use a new wind breaker. If he is retired, he may need more casual clothes. Shirts with front pockets for new reading glasses might be handy. Consider items that would make grooming and dressing easier. Long-handle shoe horns might be nice for his back, and button hooks might help someone who is beginning to struggle with arthritis.
Reflect on special moments your family has shared. An old photo of the family on vacation can be enlarged and framed. Or make a DVD of old photos and set it to music. Digital frames containing photos of his wedding, family vacations and grandchildren can keep him company in the living room. In "The Complete Guide to Creative Gift-Giving," author and radio personality Cynthia Yates shares gift ideas that impress upon the recipient, "I love you. I value you. I want to encourage you. I want to tell you that you mean a lot to me." Sentimental gifts can be especially meaningful to him.
Bring a smile to your dad's face with a home-cooked meal of his favorite foods. Dust off the old family recipe file and bake his favorite pie or cookies. Give him gift certificates to his favorite restaurant or a place that is a little off the beaten path.
The Gift of Yourself
Give your time, attention, and appreciation. As your dad gets older he may need help but be reluctant to ask for it. One of the greatest gifts you can give is helping with odd jobs around the house. Spring cleaning or offering to clean his gutters, for example, can be greatly appreciated. Reminisce about favorite haunts. Your dad may be surprised and touched if you invite him to go on a short hike to a stream where you used to skim rocks or for a picnic to a park where you spent many Sundays as a family. Surf the Internet for upcoming events the two of you can share. Write a letter expressing how important your dad is to you. In "The Gift of a Letter," philosopher and author Alexandra Stoddard shares how "... a letter is a blessing, a great and rare privilege that can turn a private moment into an exalted experience." As your dad gets older, your loving words can have a profound impact on him.
- "The Complete Guide to Creative Gift-Giving," Cynthia Yates, 1997
- "Gift of a Letter," Alexandra Stoddard, 1991
- Great Gifts for Dads Over 60
Brenda Hagood has been a writer and speech therapist since 1982, and a nonprofit director. She wrote manuals for Total Learning Curriculum and enjoys health, education and family life research. Hagood holds a bachelor's degree in communicative disorders from California State University, Fullerton, and a master's degree in speech pathology from Loma Linda University.