Yesterday was my dear old Dad's birthday. And because I'm a really bad daughter, I was not prepared with a gift. But today, I have you covered. 

Every year, you give your dad the same old birthday gift: stuff for the grill, memorabilia for his favorite sports team, etc. Even if you’ve waited until the last minute, you can still take a break from past years to really make a difference on Dad’s birthday. Put in a little more thought and do something extra special and sentimental to reaffirm your good relationship or to make a fresh start.
Sentimental Gifts for Dad
If you’re like many people, you might find it a bit easier to be sentimental with your mom than you’re your dad. But this doesn’t mean it’s impossible to give your dad a gift that will be really meaningful and heart-warming for him. You just might have to take a slightly different approach than you would when thinking of a gift for Mom. If you’re still having trouble, consider some of these tips:
  • Consider his personality and interests and let that be your starting point. Think naturally about the kinds of activities and gifts your dad has enjoyed in the past, and from that point you’ll probably be able to start to think of some good gifts. For example, if he likes new gadgets and you can’t afford that new Kindle, get him accessories for the gadgets he already has like an iPad keyboard
  • Do the two of you have an activity you like to share? A great way to show him that you really appreciate him and enjoy spending time together is to find new ways to keep spending time together. So if you already have an activity that the two of you like to share, watching movies for example, make him a personalized box-set of movies for the two of you to watch. Come up with five or ten titles that you’ve each been wanting to watch or that you’d enjoy together and maybe even package it nicely in a homemade box set box (you can very quickly make one with some cardboard and nice paper), along with a few bags of gourmet popcorn
  • Don’t forget to ask Mom for ideas! It may well be that Dad has dropped some hints about things he might like to have or activities he might enjoy for his birthday, which could save you lots of planning and considering! 
  • Consider getting a bigger gift that is for both parents. For example, take them both on a nice outing or send them both to the spa. 
  • Be sure to shop within your budget. He will definitely understand if you can’t afford a big, dramatic present, and in fact the best heartfelt presents are usually handmade or are just some inexpensive items that were chosen with particular care.
A Few Scenarios
Still having trouble coming up with some ideas? Check out some of these gifting scenarios to get you thinking creatively. 
  • For the goofy dad: If your dad loves to be a goof and enjoys being the center of attention, get him some silly novelty items like a whole selection of party tricks or silly hats. If his birthday is close to a holiday, work that into the gift. For example, if he has a summer birthday, get him outfitted up for the 4th of July with an extremely goofy Uncle Sam costume. Check out big American flag hats, men's American Flag shorts, and even a big white costume beard. 
  • For the do-it-yourself dad: If your dad loves solving problems and doing hands-on, DIY activities, come up with something creative that the two of you can do together. For example, if he has something around his house that needs fixing, he might appreciate you coming over to spend the day helping him with it. Or you might come up with some ideas for some crafty projects to do together. For example, if you’ve been interested in trying woodworking, maybe you could buy some supplies so the two of you could learn it together. Better yet, if he has a skillset that he is particularly proud of, ask him to teach you. 
  • For the relaxed dad: If your dad feels best when he’s able to just relax on the couch for a little while, help him get some much-deserved relaxation time. Take over all the chores for a day, and stock up the fridge with snacks and beer so he can have a relaxing day. Finish the day off by making him a nice dinner or getting out the grill.

Giving your dad a sentimental gift is all about figuring out what items and actions will speak the most to him. Have fun using his birthday as an opportunity to spend some time with him and do something really personal and nice for him. Remember all of the special things he’s done for you over the years and try and reciprocate that this year.