Dad’s the man, and shopping for the man can sometimes feel like a chore. Maybe that’s because we don’t feel particularly inspired, so we fall back on reliable dad-categories. Dad likes to cook? Let’s get him another cookbook. Dad seems to like his car a lot—well let’s get him another car-care kit. Dad wears ties? Let’s get him a new tie. Snore.
My father-of-two husband is a practical shopper: he shops for himself only when absolutely necessary, which is a good thing as it means I can afford my impractical shopping habits. His dad’s the very same, so shopping for them on any occasion is a frustrating challenge.
This year, when I found myself asking that thrill-killing question “what does he need?” and answering it with “a frying pan,” I slapped myself with a silicon spatula and decided need has nothing to do with this! I never wonder what my mother or girlfriends might need when buying a gift. I wonder what they might like or want. Or rather, what I might like or want to give them.
So I’ve ditched the Joy of Cooking and channeled my Joy of Shopping to come up with a few creative—but not impractical—gift ideas for the father figures in my life:
Wearing Your Words on His Sleeve
Tell him you care, literally, with a good quality sweatshirt he’ll want to wear.
Brownie points: Neighborhoodie.  Say it in style with a personalized classic heavyweight zip-up hoodie from Neighborhoodies. Go with no-fail phrases like “Top Pop,” “Superdad,” “Primo Papa,” or “Major Dad,” or get creative and emblazon the sweatshirt’s hood, sleeve, pocket, chest, or back with a graphic, his hometown, his name and lucky number, or a favorite quote. Alternatively, a good ole boys communitee  is a cool and inexpensive way to say what needs saying.
Thought that counts: For combined brownie and thought-that-counts points, write a poem, ode, or tribute to your wonderful dad right here at DivineCaroline, and send him a link.
He Look Pretty One Day
Chances are Dad’s inner beauty isn’t so obvious from the outside, so help him get in touch with his softer, more exfoliated side with some manly grooming products and treatments.
Brownie points: Spa Day.  Treat Dad to a sports massage, some brow trimming, and a facial, or butter him up with a body wrap, and just watch his tough-guy façade melt away. When choosing a spa, be sure to look for one that actually caters to men. He’ll be put-off by pretty music, flowers, and fragrances, so look for a man-spa, not a salon.
Thought that counts: Take Dad for a manicure and pedicure at a local salon. Really! Break him in on the salon’s quietest morning (call ahead to find out) and pay for a 10-minute foot-rub to “nail” his new foot fetish.
Brownie points: Barbershop Shave.  He’ll look good and you’ll look great for going to the trouble to find dad a good old-fashioned barbershop like this one in South Jersey. Barbershops are few and far between, so you may have to do your homework to find a classic shave in dad’s vicinity. If you can’t find an old-fashioned gem, gear dad up to shave himself in style with the Perfect Shave  from the Art of Shaving.
Thought that counts: Jack Black skin care.  Jump-start an actual skincare routine for Dad with a cleanser or moisturizer from this manly skincare line. You can really clean him up with the no-frills Core Collection of four essential products: a scrub, cleanser, shaving cream, and SPF moisturizer. He’ll be squeaky clean and will thank you for not making him smell like roses.
His Interest Rates
Show a creative interest in dad’s interests or maybe even ignite some new ones. He’ll care that you care
Brownie points: A movie-inspired vacation. Send Dad packing on a movie-inspired mancation and he’ll surely thank you, Awards-style, with a “you like me … you really like me!” speech.
Thought that counts: Movie tickets . If dad prefers to leave the action to the professionals, get him a trip, or several trips to the movies. If he’s a bigger fan of a smaller screen then get him a big box of microwaveable popcorn and a subscription to Netflix. 
Brownie points: Culinary Classes.  He thinks he’s a dab hand in the kitchen, but you’re worried that one day, he’ll lose a hand. Sign your ninja daddy up for Knife Skills classes. He can learn kitchen basics and you can feel more comfortable when he’s at the cutting board. Better still, enroll him for a cupcake or cookie workshop and you will sit back and eat the benefits.
Thought that counts: Outfit your Top Chef in the latest foodie fashions with a personalized chef jacket  from Bravo’s Top Chef. Inject a lot of cool to the classic apron with a personalized Broiler apron  from Neighborhoodies, and make sure everyone notices your dad at his next BBQ with a matching personalized Chef’s Hat & Apron .
Brownie Points: iPod . Bring his love for music up to date with the most popular musical gadget of them all—the iPod. You can splurge for the 20,000-song capacity player or keep it cute with the 240-song capacity Shuffle. Either way, be sure to add a personal touch with free laser engraving from Apple.com. Get the party started by creating a personalized iMix for Dad at iTunes. 
Thought that counts: Language classes on cd . Say hola papa with these comprehensive language classes he can take from the comfort of his own living room. Upload the lessons to his mp3 player to keep him fluent on the go.
Related Story: Get Reel: Movie-Inspired Vacations For Men