I can’t imagine a more difficult person to buy for than my father. When I was little, my mum used to buy him socks and boxer shorts on my behalf for Christmas, birthdays and father’s day. Now I am, just, beginning to fend for myself as an adult, I have to choose, pay for and wrap the various crap I manage to find online. So, this year I was determined to delve deeper into my imagination and come up with a gift my dad wouldn’t just need, but also want. Also, as he is an incredibly emotional man, despite being six foot five and built like a brick s**t house, he cries when my siblings and I manage to produce anything homemade or an item that incorporates a personal touch. This is, therefore, was my brief: something that is useful, thoughtful, personal and luxurious enough that he wouldn’t ever dare buy it for himself of fear of it being unnecessary. Where do I start?
Google, of course, but I failed to feel inspired by the suggestions of Yorkshire puddings tins and Personalised bracelets. For one, my dad would never wear anything that went beyond trousers and a shirt – he doesn’t even wear jumpers in the winter because they’re ‘too much hassle’; if I decided to buy him a personalised bracelet, it would go down in the same way as when Joey buys Chandler his chunky gold friendship chain in Friends, akin to a lead balloon. So, going against my better judgement, I decided to turn to an online store that promises a vast array of gadgets and gizmos for that special man in your life with a 10% discount for father’s day when entering the code BESTDAD…
It was the worst idea yet. Firstly, being hugely concerned about the current state of our global climate, the fact that 90% of the products were mass produced plastic, for lack of a better word, toys, consolidated my options somewhat. Secondly, I was confronted with many, many physical representations of toxic masculinity: a large food bowl with the words ‘MAN BOWL’ printed on the front, a ‘lazy man frying pan’, and a ‘MAN BOX’ (I really didn’t want to know what was contained in there) being just a few examples. There were, however, lots of opportunities for personalisation. Who wouldn’t want a huge Toblerone with ‘No. 1 Dad’ printed on the front? I was on the brink of giving up this seemingly impossible expedition into the deep depths of the gifting world when I had a thought.
I needed to think about what my dad likes to do, and what would make these activities more enjoyable. He likes to sing; he regularly travels on the weekends to sing in cathedrals. He likes to go to the gym; but we have previously attempted to buy him workout gear for a birthday present and he still wears the holey, greasy t-shirt and 30 year old shorts he has always worn. But, then, an illuminating idea popped into my head. Not only does my dad have to carry a towel, shampoo, shower gel, a change of clothes and his headphones to the gym, but he also has to pack for the variety of choral weekends away: a bag!
Now, my father likes practical things. The bag would have to be big enough for a weekend away but not too big to keep in his gym locker. It would also have to last a very long time and, for my sake, be made by someone who has an environmental conscience. Not only does Vintage Child have a beautiful selection of sustainable leather luggage, it also offers personalised tags. I felt my boxes being ticked by the second. After browsing the website, I decided to buy the ‘Weekend Bag Eco’ with a personalised tag attached. The sheer effort put into this gift did not go unnoticed and I just manage to squeeze a tear out of the old man on Sunday afternoon, success! I know where I'll be heading for my next "man" gift.