Free {or really cheap} Fathers’ Day Gifts from the Heart


Dad doesn't need another tie. Check out these free -- or almost free -- gift ideas that will put a smile on dad's face on Fathers' Day. Whenever someone asks my father what he wants for Christmas, he says “world peace.” Gee, thanks dad, for being so helpful.

Do you have someone in your life like that? It’s hard to find the perfect gift because he or she

wants nothing,

has everything,

or is very particular.

One of these days, I’m going to get my dad whirled peas and see if that will suffice. In the meantime,

What can I get a guy who wants nothing?

When I am faced with this dilemma, I think of the spirit of the gift-giving occasion. Fathers’ Day is about celebrating fatherhood and expressing gratitude. In that vein, I come back to the “things” that bring a smile to any dad.

1. Photo gifts

Just the other day I noticed that the Father’s Day card I gave my dad 3 years ago was still on display. Why? Because it had a picture of him and his grandson on the front.

There isn’t a father who wouldn’t love a nice photo of him with his pride and joy. I like photo cards and 8 x 10 collages because I have been able to get them for free at Walgreen’s in the week leading up to Fathers’ Day. My husband has a gallery wall of collages from each Fathers’ Day in his office. I pick out a few of the year’s best father and son photos each year.

For parents living in a community setting, a photo mug will help them brag in the cafeteria. How about a copy of your children’s school photo from that year?

2. Tech Know-How

My mother loves to use her iPad. She recently had back surgery, and while she packed her clothes and toothbrush for the hospital, I hopped on to her iPad and subscribed her to The Moth podcast — one of her favorite NPR programs.

Is there an app, podcast, or tech convenience that your father might love as much as you do? Or has he been having technical difficulties with something that you could fix? Or, doesn’t realize that there is a quick fix to an annoyance he has? I recently spotted my dad and my brother-in-law conspiring to change a setting on my dad’s laptop; when it was fixed, my father was so happy that he could use his mouse pad again.

Reaching out to help fix a tech problem or introduce a useful service can be a gift that keeps on giving.

3. Time

For me, I love spending time with my children, but I also love spending a little time away from them too.

Give dad the gift of a few hours to himself and a few hours of some serious fun with his kids — without having to plan it. (Or is that just a mom thing, wanting a break from planning everything? Hopefully dad will repay the favor)

Try giving Dad time to connect with his family, without a materialism aspect. My favorite Mothers’ Day or Fathers’ Day activity is a picnic in the park. Pack a lunch, a blanket, and a frisbee or a soccer ball, and we can have fun for hours without spending a dime.

For more active activities, check out the various local zoos, museums and amusement parks that offer free admission to dads on Fathers’ Day.

4. Fathers’ Day Album

A few years ago, I was aghast at the cost of 3 cards I bought for Fathers’ Day when the cashier rang them up. At about $5 a card, our family would spend over $100 a year on cards for our immediate family alone.

When you think about it, what do you actually get with a card? A pretty or funny picture with a sentiment that’s designed for universal appeal. It’s never what you really want to say.

There is no Fathers’ Day card that says “I love you so much that I clean up your cereal bowl every day and never mention it to you. Except for right now. And that’s just to tell you how much I love you.'”  

But maybe that’s a good thing.

Back to my point: Wouldn’t a hand-made card mean so much more? You can say exactly what you want to say. That’s why we started an album. Each year, my son answers the same questions, adds a photo, and maybe draws something, on the next page in the album. You can have your kids answer questions about their dad or questions about what they love about their dad, or make up your own version.

Plus, with an album, you won’t wonder when enough time has passed for you to be able to throw out the card. The album keeps all the heartfelt sentiments, handmade drawings, and photos in one place. Each year you get a new page, you can revisit your five-year-old daughter’s princess drawing just by turning the page.

If you haven’t already, check out my Frugal Giving Pinterest Board for more ideas, and send some pins my way if you have any suggestions.

What’s your favorite inexpensive Fathers’ Day gift to give or receive? 

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  1. …. and sometimes a Dad just loves his kids to say nice things about him in her blog…..I have so many great stories to tell about her to her sons.

  2. We LOVE those shutterfly “free” gift cards. We’ve gotten mugs for ourselves and grandparents. Everyone loves them! Plus, when you have a baby, they give you a TON of free money on them, something like over $100. We just had to pay the shipping.

    I always liked a hand written card, even if it it’s printed out like one of those ancient Microsoft office ones!

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