Father’s Day: Why are Dads so hard to shop for?

“Just a bit of peace and quiet.” That’s what my father used to infuriatingly reply when I asked what he wanted for a gift. Sadly, in our hectic household, we could rarely comply. Besides, they didn’t sell it down the local high street.

It’s the same the world over. Ask a dad for present ideas and he’ll mumble something like: “Oh, I don’t mind. There’s nothing I need. Don’t waste your money.” And then he’ll duck back behind his newspaper or disappear into the shed. Cheers, Dad, very helpful.

The one person everyone dreads buying for is their father. Not because they don’t love them as much (at least I hope not, especially now I’m a father myself). It’s just harder. Dads have zero expectations. They don’t want anything. And if they do, they sure as hell won’t tell you.

Dads don’t agonise over purchases or idly daydream about things they can’t quite afford. They tend to have enough money to simply buy what they want, when they want it. This means their wishlist is about as long as their favourite rom-com list ie. non-existent.

Look at the way he shops – or, more accurately, doesn’t. Men don’t shop, they buy. Studies show that when it comes to retail, women go on an emotional journey, but men are mission-driven. Go in, get it done, get out fast – like a bank heist, but hopefully with fewer guns and cops involved.

Dads don’t do luxuries, indulgent treats or pampering. We regard such things as unnecessary evils, suitable only for show-offs, overpaid footballers and stupid celebrities. Frankly, if us fathers weren’t so twinkly-eyed and loveable, we’d be a proper pain in the rump.

So what to do? Well, if he wants something boringly practical – a power drill, say, or plain leather wallet – swallow your pride and get it. Many a disappointed dad-face has resulted from people mistakenly believing something is ”too obvious” and trying to surprise him instead. Surprises get filed alongside “Motorway Tailbacks”, “Loud Dance Music” and “Mum Faffing About” under “Things Dads Don’t Like”.

One thing Dads do get excited about is food and drink, so consider a bottle of his favourite whisky, a case of his favourite red wine, a hamper of artisan cheeses, a jar of posh pork scratchings… Anything that makes him lick his lips, rather than awkwardly mumble “That’s nice, dear”. Gadgets, subscriptions or sport tickets often go down well.

Avoid ties, cufflinks, gloves or anything novelty with a joke on it. He’s already got too many of the first three and loathes the fourth with a secret burning passion. Also avoid anything creative or “arty”, as the chances are, he won’t quite understand, bless him. Keep it simple and keep it useful – a bit like the man himself. No offence, Dad.

Oh, and for one day only: try giving him some peace and quiet too.

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