More than a century ago, in 1909, a woman named Sonora Dodd attended a Mother’s Day church service in Spokane, Washington. Afterward, she approached the minister. “I liked everything you said about motherhood,” she told him. “However, don't you think fathers deserve a place in the sun, too?” She had reason to wonder; Dodd lost her mother early on, and she and her siblings had been raised largely by their single father, William.
The next year, when she was in her late twenties, Dodd started a petition to establish a new holiday: Father’s Day. That June, her father’s birth month, she handed out red and white roses in honor of fathers who were both living and deceased. It would be another sixty-plus years until Father’s Day became a national holiday, but today, we celebrate it in countries all over the world.
If you are taking this month to celebrate the fathers and father figures in your life, we’ve gathered thirteen simple creative gift ideas that will show them how much you care. We’ve put an emphasis on presents that are thoughtful and affordable, much like those red and white roses Dodd distributed to Spokane dads more than a hundred years ago.
Photograph the family pet.
Set up a sweet photo shoot with your dad’s favorite dog or cat. You won’t need expensive studio lights, any well-lit location will work well. You can work with any kind of camera too, even your smartphone. Print it on nice paper, put it in a frame, and you’re good to go. If you want, sign it with your pet’s paw print. Konsta Punka, a wildlife photographer, teaches a great class about taking pictures of wild animals, with lessons that could be easily applied to beloved pets, too.
Create a jar full of memories.
This one is the brainchild of Maggi McDonald (@maggimcdonaldart). “A lovely and easy DIY gift for Father's Day is writing down your favorite things about Dad - each on their own little piece of paper - folding them and putting them in a decorated glass jar or container,” she explains. “This is an easy one to do with the kids and get them to help decorate the jar with stickers and add a handmade card for a special gift that comes from the heart.”
Make a DIY “subscription box.”
You can sign your dad up for a subscription box filled with his favorite things, like grooming products, wine, coffee, or chocolates, but you can also create your own. Here’s how it works: think of a type of food or product your dad loves. Then prepare some gift boxes with all sorts of different variations on the same theme.
You could go shopping regularly in a boutique or specialty store, or you could make the goodies yourself, especially if it’s something like cookies or candy. Give your dad his first box on Father’s Day and then surprise him every month with a different box. Take your time, and consider adding a nice card or some beautiful wrapping.
Create a short film.
You might have tons of short videos and photos of your dad (and the people he loves) on your phone, so why not use them to create a tribute? Think about adding voiceover or his favorite music, or move chronologically through his life, if you can get your hands on some old pictures or footage. If you don’t have any editing experience, fear not: Gabriel Noguez has a great course on shooting and editing beautiful videos.
Gift a personalized house plant.
“I like to paint plant pots as gifts,” the Brisbane-based body painter and makeup artist Georgina Ryland (@georginaryland) tells us. “You can design something special for the recipient, such as their pet or favorite hobby, and then it can be used and displayed for a long time.” Want to make your gift even more special? Fill your planter with the perfect plant with the help of this tutorial.
Make some jam.
“You can't go wrong with some food gifts in my family,” Natalie Byrne (@nataliebyrne) says. “I've made sweet chili jam, onion chutney, and even a caramel sauce--in South America, we call it manjar, or you may know it as dulce de leche. Additionally, you can also infuse stuff with olive oil like chili or rosemary. I've even infused things with alcohol, and I've also made caramel vodka. One thing I really want to make for next Christmas is vegan brandy butter... mmm.”
If you’re just getting started, you can check out this course on small-batch preserves, taught by Kelly Geary.
...Or beard oil.
“I love making my own body products, and some are so very easy to make,” the artist Kashmir Thompson (@kashmirviii) explains. “If your dad has a beard or a really cool head of hair, consider making him his own hair/beard butter! All you would need is a carrier oil of your choice (like sweet almond oil, argan oil, or sunflower oil), a butter of your choice (like shea butter or mango butter) and if you'd like, an essential oil blend for fragrance. All items can be found easily on Amazon or your local vitamin or holistic store, and it takes just minutes. It's something he'd use, and you can make it fun and quirky by having fun with whatever labels you decide to put on it and what you decide to name it.”
Make a unique tie.
Ties are a classic Father’s Day gift, and for good reason: according to this article from 1925, “trade organizations interested in neckties” had a hand in helping establish the holiday in the first place. Still, there’s no need to shell out the cash for a fancy tie when you can make your own.
Start by visiting your local craft store to find the perfect fabric. You can browse for sewing patterns online to find one you like, or if bowties are more his speed, you can take this quick and easy online course from Dan Robertson and Seb Ewing of Freelance Bowties. You can even make your bowtie from old shirts or other materials you have around the house.
Create a cookbook.
“My husband and I like to share and illustrate food recipes for loved ones as gifts,” the cartoonist and illustrator Tiffany Ford (@atoffany) tells us. “It’s a nice thing to give, and often takes just a tiny bit of effort but a lot of love and thoughtfulness.”
You can create a personalized cookbook full of your dad’s favorite meals, whether you find them online or call up your grandparents, aunts, or uncles for some of their family secrets. This course will teach you how to make a sophisticated Coptic stitch book.
Immortalize an online tribute.
Remember that online tribute you posted for your dad last Father’s Day, with a few kind words and a great photo? Think about bringing that memory into the real world by turning it into a tangible work of art.
“I'm one of those people who are terrible at anything crafty or handmade,” the photographer Teresa Freitas (@teresacfreitas) tells us. “I can't even cut straight with a pair of scissors. One thing I did for my father last year, that he absolutely loved, was to print one of my posts from Instagram: on one side, you could see the picture, and on the other side, you could read the caption. I framed it in a glass frame with wooden borders, so you can view it from either side. In this case, this post had a caption that was a small tribute/thank you to my father.”
Design a mug.
Mugs, like ties, are timeless and universal. There are tons of different DIY approaches to making mugs, from using pens to incorporating glitter and paint. In this course, potter Helen Levi walks you through how to create a beautiful, modern-looking mug in less than 45 minutes.
Organize a scavenger hunt.
“I think in an era of rampant materialism, the best gifts are experiences,” the photographer Dave Krugman (@dave.krugman) says. “Take your father or loved one somewhere--maybe a trip, a sports event, a hike. Memories are more valuable than any object, and we are the sum of our experiences. Keep layering those experiences, and you'll both walk away with an invaluable gift.”
If you don’t know where to start, plan a fun and easy scavenger hunt. Write down a list of places you and your Dad love (e.g., a local restaurant or coffee shop, a movie theater, a childhood playground), and recruit some friends or local shop owners to help out. At each place, you can have a small gift ready (like those on this list, even) along with a clue for the next location. At the end, you can have dinner or a picnic with your dad.
Digitize your old family photos.
Do you have dozens of family photos and negatives stored away in the attic or basement, where no one gets to see them? Surprise your dad by bringing your collection into the digital age. You can use a professional scanning service, or you could do it yourself using a printer, phone, or tablet. The New York Times has this handy guide to help you through the process. When you’re done, if you want something physical to give him on Father’s Day, you can print your favorites and organize them into a curated photo book.
Looking for more crafts and DIY ideas? Skillshare’s got dozens of classes to help you create the best Dad’s Day yet.
For more information on Feature Shoot, click here.