When brainstorming gift options for my mom this Mother’s Day, I tried crowdsourcing ideas from my friends. Every answer was some version of either sending flowers (which, as someone who prides themselves on being a good gift-giver, was too boring for my tastes) or, more commonly, spending the day with mom, making her brunch, going to the movies, or something similar.
One small snag in that idea for me: I live New York; my parents live in Massachusetts. While spending Mother’s or Father’s Day with your parent(s) is the ideal, with my current budget, giving my parents the present of my presence for a day isn’t really feasible. (Instead, I dug really deep and somehow remembered the 8,725 times my mom has brought up taking a cooking class and sent her a gift card to a local shop that offers courses.)
If you’re experiencing a similar struggle this Father’s Day and find yourself stumped for a creative gift for your dad who’s miles away, here are four easily personalized options you can gift from anywhere on the globe.
Write a personalized reading list
A few years ago when I was even more broke than I am now, I asked my dad what kind of budget Christmas gift he would like. He requested a mix CD with music from my personal library I thought he would like. It was a questionable choice: I’m 25 and still listen to “I Want It That Way” at least three times a day, and I can confidently say my music taste wasn’t any better back then. But I guess that isn’t the point: The point is my dad is interested in me and my tastes.
Try writing a list of book recommendations for your dad and pair it with something like an Audible or Amazon gift card so he can choose what to read or listen to based on your suggestions. It will show effort and thought on your part, as well as give you two something to discuss in the future.
Make a home movie
This one has the added bonus of being easy on your wallet as well. Ask your family to send some old and new photos or home videos of you with your dad. Fire up iMovie or Windows Movie Maker and add some appropriately nostalgic music for a perfect sentimental Father’s Day gift.
For my own dad, I’m considering just montaging pictures of my dog, whom I’m pretty sure my father and everyone in my family would prefer seeing over me. (I’m not mad about that, my dog is better than me in every conceivable way).
Subscribe to a newspaper
My dad and I are both big Boston Celtics fans, and recently many great writers who cover the team have joined sports websites with paywalls. Opting to buy my dad a subscription to an outlet like The Athletic supports journalists and offers my dad some exclusive reading he’ll enjoy (And hey, if I just so happen to use his login sometime, it doesn’t make it any less of a gift, right?).
If your dad isn’t a sports guy, go more mainstream with newspapers like The Washington Post or The New York Times (which also allow access to their fantastic archive of recipes if your dad is secretly the next Bobby Flay). If your dad is more of a magazine guy, you might want to look into getting him the Texture app.
Gift some personalized wine
My parents and I both love wine. The one difference between us? They have something called “taste,” while I have a weekly game plan of going to my local wine store and pretending to consider buying a fancy bottle before heading to the “Under $10” wall. So, in the past, I’ve had luck with giving my parents a gift card to a company that allows them to take a quiz on their wine tastes and offers personalized suggestions to be shipped to them.
Give your dad the gift of an online wine sommelier to get him something he’ll love without having to ask him yourself about his favorite finish or whether he prefers earthy or fruity.
Originally published on June 12, 2018.