14 Thoughtful Gift Ideas for the Modern Dad

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Explore a variety of unique gift ideas for dads to celebrate the kind of man who parents actively, cooks enthusiastically, and dresses with a sense of style, written by a father who has received or who covets many of the gifts below.

While a lot has changed in the fifty years since President Lyndon B. Johnson signed a proclamation urging the official observance of Father’s Day, some advertisers, books and pundits still play to the outdated stereotype of a dad as a bumbling caretaker, sloven dresser, or hapless cook.  Keep reading for thoughtful ideas to celebrate your dad.

Menswear gift ideas for stylish dads

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s a good time to help your dad refresh his wardrobe and dress for the new normal.

Get him set up with a new, made-to-measure suit

A new post-pandemic suit would be a special gift for dad. One option is to get a gift card to order made-to-measure suit from online tailor Black Lapel. (Read my review here, and save $50 off your first Black Lapel suit with coupon code FTOMODERN.) Or schedule him for a fitting at an Indochino showroom. (Look inside Indochino’s Georgetown showroom.)

Aman and Gihan, Co-Founders, Ministry of Supply
Aman and Gihan, Co-Founders, Ministry of Supply

Get a menswear gift with a story behind it

I think a gift means more when it has a story behind it. For example:

(Click through the links above to read the stories behind the brands.)

Not your father’s father’s tie

Some will tell you that gifting a tie to dad is cliched, but I for one love getting ties as gifts.  A slew of entrepreneurs are helping men add a little flair to their style with fresh ties using interesting fabrics, textures, patterns and colors.

If you leave enough time, order an ancient madder or grenadine tie from Sam Hober, an amazing Thailand-based purveyor of custom neckties. I have received several grenadine ties from Sam Hober as gifts and adore every one. 

If time is short, but money is no object, British luxury tie brand Drake’s has exquisite ties on offer through its website and other online menswear retailers like Todd Snyder.  (If you can afford it, here are some additional expensive luxury tie options.)

For more affordable ties, it’s hard to beat the Tie Bar. (For even more options, see this separate guide to The Best Places to Buy Ties for Men.)

Brighten up his sock drawer

My young kids love picking out socks for me as Christmas gifts.  They know I like bright colors and thick stripes, and have fun combing through Nordstroms, Bloomingdales and even TJ Maxx to find a pair I like. Sock entrepreneurs like Happy Socks (via Amazon)Unsimply Stitched and Alabama-based made-in-the-USA manufacturer Zkano, are making bright socks that can add a touch of personality to an otherwise understated outfit.

You can find a variety of accessories at digital retailers including Stag Austin and Wittmore, or nab a subscription to sock-of-the-month services from Sock Fancy (via Amazon) or Southern Scholar, which delivers a pair a month for 6 months or a year.

See Modern Fellows’ guide to the best places to buy colorful men’s socks online for many more options for buying men’s socks online.

Book ideas for stylish dads

Published in 2011, The Measure of a Man: The Story of a Father, a Son, and a Suit by JJ Lee is a terrific true story of a son’s often fraught relationship with his dad — not your typical guide to men’s style. 

It’s a unique read, though if you’d rather gift a book that focuses more on men’s style basics, see Modern Fellows’ guide to essential books on men’s style.

Add a pop of color and flair with a pocket square 

Pocket squares aren’t for everyone, but if you think your dad is amenable, find some patterned gems through Vanda Fine Clothing, a company which began life selling through Styleforum.net in 2010, or J. Crew.

Thoughtful gifts for your foodie father

I love to cook, and always appreciate a food-related gift.

A book for the cook 

Bypass the “men don’t know how to cook” stereotype pushed by books such as Man Meets Stove, “a cookbook for men who’ve never cooked anything without a microwave,” in favor of Mark Bittman’s classic How to Cook Everything, or Esquire’s Eat Like a Man by Ryan D’Agostino.  Combine the book with a tool or gadget, like the Lodge Double Play Reversible Grill/Griddle for making the pancakes found in Bittman’s book. (I make these pancakes regularly with my daughters.)

Hard to find beer or wine

Companies like France44 and BeerShip will ship hard-to-find craft beer directly to your dad’s door.  For the wine connoisseur, online wine clubs, such as Club W and Plonk Wine Merchants, which focus on affordable bottles, and Avalon, a Northwest wine specialist, are a way to encourage a wine lover to try something new.

Hand-picked coffee

Alternately, investigate promising new coffee from a favorite roaster that isn’t available locally. Try Trade Coffee for a personalized monthly coffee subscription that will enable him to discover new roasters from around the country.

Nostalgic gifts for dad

During the pandemic, I had time to rediscover some music and memories that I hadn’t thought about in decades.

Revisit childhood TV or toy memories

Flipping through Netflix one night, I wound up settling down with an episode of The Toys that Made Us, which traced the history of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, a series of toys that spawned a television show, which I was really into when I was a kid. And just like that, I was hooked, looking up old episodes on Youtube and searching eBay to find the action figures.

What was that one movie or show or toy or game that your dad loved?

A musical trip down memory lane

Men of a certain age will recall childhood LPs and Phish bootlegs from high school.  It’s a good bet most dads still have them lying around somewhere.  Give dad a reason to dust off those tapes or records with a cassette deck, turntable, or combination player that can convert analog music to MP3s or other digital formats. The Pyle Retro Turntable with USB-to-PC Connection, TEAC CD Player and Cassette with USB Codec, or Pyle Vintage Turntable with Cassette/CD should do the trick. B&H Photo has a useful guide for other ways to transfer music from cassettes to a computer.

A versatile internet radio for the kitchen or bedroom

Growing up, I remember my mom having an old AM/FM radio (mostly tuned to WBLI Long Island) that was on most mornings in the kitchen. The walnut-encased Grace Digital Mondo+ wireless/ bluetooth internet radio is certainly an upgrade from that (it even includes a qi built-in wireless smartphone charger for your cellphone).  It allows dad to program his favorite internet radio stations (including BLI) and stream music via bluetooth or the Grace Digital app.

Giving the gift of time to your dad

Experiences often mean the most. My family knows I love getting time to myself, and time together, as a present.

A day away

One of my favorite birthday presents of all time was an entire Sunday to myself, which began with drinking coffee and eating an amazing brunch at DC’s superlative Blue Duck Tavern, where I took my time crafting a piece on menswear alternatives to J. Crew, and continued through a visit to Bonobos’ Guideshop in Shaw and a tour of The Tie Bar’s showroom in Washington DC’s Logan Circle.  Another idea? Give dad a day off with a gift certificate to a favorite bar to share with his friends.

A day together

Alternately, promise dad a day to do something he loves as a family. Instead of sending him to a Sunday afternoon baseball game with his buddies, get tickets for the family and buy him a hot dog and beer. If he says how much he loves the outdoors but can’t remember the last time he went hiking, carve out a day to trek together (for example in the Blue Ridge mountains, where the photo above was taken).

Carve out time for a game night

One of my favorite things to do together is to play Scrabble in teams with my family, and yet, while we regularly watch a movie over the weekend, we rarely carve out time to play a game.


About Jake

Jake is passionate about exploring entrepreneurs' global journeys. He founded Modern Fellows in 2012 to get to know the entrepreneurs behind the innovative brands helping men dress sharp in the digital age.  Jake has written about entrepreneurship, international business and/or fashion for outlets including Business Week, Forbes, Inc., Details Style Syndicate and Primer Magazine, and has provided analysis on international business for BBC Radio, NBC News, CNN and Time Magazine.

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