Let's admit it: Father's Day is the worst. This is not to slam fathers or fatherhood or men—the holiday is an important acknowledgement of the hard work and dedication it takes to be a parent. But geez, guys, you don't make it easy.
Not that I'm breaking any new ground here, but men are tough to shop for simply because you can't just pick up something sparkly and present it in a small box of a certain color. This means you have to actually consider their style, interests and activities in order to find something special and seriously, who has time. Dads themselves are part of the problem—anyone who responds "I don't need anything, don't waste your money," when asked what they'd like for a special occasion has no cause to complain when ending up on the receiving end of endless electric razors. Still, dads deserve better.
Men are tough to shop for simply because you can't just pick up something sparkly and present it in a small box of a certain color.
Anyone who wants to buy me anything, for example, need only peruse my myriad boards and lists on Pinterest, Keep, ShopStyle, etc., and click through to buy. I literally could not make it easier to give me presents. Your best bet when it comes to dads is to sleuth around and see if they have an Amazon wish list, which is the closest thing to Pinterest in guy world. If you find a set of speakers, or tools, or a Top Gear DVD box set on there, boom! You're done.
The standard suggestions for men usually fall into the "Upgrade U" category: ties, colognes, watches, jeans or shoes that are a notch more stylish than whatever said dad currently wears. I think that's fine if you have the kind of dad that wants to look acceptable but has no interest in shopping for himself and considers this a service, like a low-rent annual version of StitchFix. My grandfather, for example, gets new tube socks, a bottle of Old Spice and one of those giant cannisters of popcorn every year. He's just a simple guy that loves popcorn and hates buying himself socks.
However, if your pops is truly indifferent to style, I think it's a little selfish to buy him something that you want him to have for Father's Day rather than something that he can get excited about. That's what Valentine's Day is for.
Another great option is to give your dad something that he once owned that you borrowed, broke or lost. One time I found a set of bike clips that I'd borrowed/taken/whatever from my dad years before. When I gave them back I think he almost cried. You've got to save that kind of gift for a day that you can truly get credit for and not waste it on some random Thursday because he happens to be taking you to lunch. Just try not to lose it again in the meantime.
Aside from that, it's really about trying to tap into dad world. The best way to do this is to channel Leslie Knope's famous gift-giving acumen on Parks & Rec. For example, when Ron goes to extreme ends to avoid her knowing his birthday because he hates making a fuss, Leslie's surprise party for him consists of a quiet room in which to eat a giant steak and drink a bottle of Scotch, alone.
For years I bought my dad, a loyal Sports Illustrated reader, the latest book written by (now former) SI columnist Rick Reilly. When I lived in New York I even went to a Rick Reilly book signing and asked him if he could push his production up to three books a year so I'd have something set for Father's Day, his birthday and Christmas. (Rick, if you're reading this, you really let me down.)
Or take a cue from new research that suggests that experiences are more satisfying than objects, and nab dad a round at an exclusive golf course, a week to tool around in his dream car or a gift certificate to a steakhouse. Tickets, whether for a sporting event, a flight or a concert, are also a safe bet. You could even give him an hour of computer/smartphone help without any visible eyerolling, if you think this is a gift you are capable of completing.
Still lost? Just give him a card and laugh at all his dad jokes for a week. He'll love it.