Father’s Day Gifts That Will Help Bridge the (Social) Distance

By Jamie Greyson
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Photo Courtesy: Universal Pictures/IMDb

This year, Father’s Day is going to look a little different for many, particularly for folks who are sheltering in place — or who don’t live near — their families. But just because you might be running up against issues of distance, that doesn’t mean you can’t help your dad, or whoever you’re showing some extra appreciation, celebrate in style.

I live thousands of miles away from my parents, and while I won’t be with them in person on June 21, I’ve put some thought into how I can make that day a bit more special. Given that we just don’t know what the COVID-19-concious landscape will look like in a month, I’ve also put some thought into the kinds of gadgets dads and parents can use while staying close to home — just in case. It’s a complicated time, but if Mamma Mia’s Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) can navigate a three-dad wedding, those of us who celebrate Father’s Day can find ways to do so that are both fun and safe, despite the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic.

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Day 50-Something of Social Distancing: A Few Gadgets That Will Make the Great Indoors Fun Again

Sure, it’s a little bit too typical to invest in a new grill or grilling tools for Father’s Day, but what about a product that’s more than just your standard barbecue? Bonus: The Cuisinart Griddler fits on your countertop, making it perfect for city living — dad can grill some salmon or burgers without setting foot outside. What saves this one from being "just another Father’s Day grill," however, is the fact that it's a 5-in-1 machine, ready to sear steak, press the perfect panini and much, much more. In short, just like dad, the Griddler is versatile — don’t try to box either of them in.

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Photo Courtesy: Best Buy; Trade Coffee; goop

Another standard option for a dad gift is anything beer-related, but opting for another pint glass is on par with sending him golf balls or a tie. By that, we mean it’s been done before — by you and the rest of the world. If your pops enjoys a nice drink after a long day, we suggest upping your game with this lovely whiskey decanter set. Sleek, minimalist and downright cool, this decanter will let your dad display his whiskey, scotch and/or bourbon in style. Best of all, the decanter comes with two crystal glasses, meaning you can share a virtual "cheers" over Zoom once dad is done unwrapping the set.

Perhaps whiskey isn’t your dad’s beverage of choice? No sweat. Some useful coffee-themed gadgets are sure to give him not only a great cup of Joe, but a new hobby. If your parents are anything like mine, they might initially roll their eyes at the idea of pour-over coffee — back in "their day," making a pour-over was a cheap, easy way to make coffee. However, after years of single-brew Keurig pods and functional Mr. Coffee pots, a return to form might be welcome, especially if that means trying out the Classic Chemex. This refreshingly low-tech coffeemaker is timeless and easy-as-coffee-cake to use. Simply place a filter in the top half of the glass coffeemaker, scoop your grounds in and then pour hot water over the coffee, hence the process’ name.

Of course, this whole setup blends both science and art: You have to let the grounds "bloom," and getting that full flavor out of the coffee takes time. Luckily, Chemex provides all the tips and tricks you need to get started, so you can brew a perfectly rich cup of Joe. Of course, finding the right coffee maker is only half the battle when it comes to brewing the perfect pour-over coffee. That other half? Finding just the right way to heat your water, for which I recommend pairing the Chemex with the Buono Power Kettle for simple, plug-and-play coffee making.

Whether dad’s spending a lot of time inside making the perfect panini or his favorite at-home coffee — or just enjoying the fruits of his labor — you want to help him create a perfect atmosphere. Sure, earbuds are all the rage, but for a person who grew up with vinyl and loved to fill the whole house with music, the right speaker might be even better.

One option that provides incredible sound and a wallet-friendly price-point is the Sonos One (Gen 2) Smart Speaker, which allows for voice commands (cue Alexa or Google Assistant), Spotify-streaming (well, actually you can stream 80 music services in total) and a whole host of other very modern features. Better yet, you can create a wireless, multiroom audio system that’s both easy to control and easy on the ears by pairing two or more Sonos speakers. Just be on hand near your phone to lend some tech support if that’s not dad’s forte. I mean, if you didn’t help with the setup, that would be like not including batteries with a Walkman.

Close-to-Home Adventures: Items That Will Help Beat Cabin Fever

We all want to enjoy the great outdoors right now, but it’s important to do so safely. It’s unclear when certain states and counties will officially reopen, meaning travel plans are still a tad nebulous for most of us. So, why not grab dad something he can use in his own backyard? (Or, you know, his neighborhood green space.) Before pops kicks up his feet, however, he’ll need the tools to spruce up his surroundings.

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Photo Courtesy: Best Buy; Ace Hardware

Again, anything that goes in a shed is very standard, cliché Father’s Day fare. While an awl or a new saw are great, I recommend something a little different. Enter the folding garden stool. Portable, foldable and highly functional, this stool can be used in the garden to make weeding easier on the back or on dad’s next camping trip. Best of all, he can stow all those tools you got him on previous Father’s Days in one of the stool’s seven pockets.

Another unusual tool? A headlamp. Useful when maintenance needs to be taken care of after hours — or if there’s a sudden power outage — a headlamp can be a person’s best friend. The Panther Vision PowerCap takes "headlamp" to the next level. Fashionable and fitted with lights, this cap also doubles as a great flashlight if your dad is one to stay out on the hiking trails a bit too long.

If tool-adjacent gifts aren’t really your dad’s speed, the Klymit hammock is a winner. Not only does it claim to "cut down on sag," this hammock also packs down into a nifty little bag, meaning dad can tote this nap-friendly accessory around the yard and try out every tree — and rest easy while doing so.

At-Home Creature Comforts for the Dad Who’s Hard to Buy For

If your dad is difficult to buy a gift for, these unique, functional gifts might fit the bill. They aren’t necessarily items he would buy himself, but they are the sorts of things he might mean to pick up for himself one day. Why not speed up the process? First up, Los Poblanos beard oil, which hails from an organic farm near Albuquerque, New Mexico. Beard oil may sound superfluous, but it actually helps nourish, condition and cleanse. Better yet, this particular oil is made from organic lavender, a plant that not only smells great but is known for its soothing qualities. Look, it beats giving him yet another electric razor, right?

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Photo Courtesy: Nectar Sleep; Best Buy; goop

Maybe the dad on your shopping list isn’t super into fancy grooming products? No problem. Most dads are into enjoying some solitude — and by that, I mean, like all of us, dads need to just block out the world sometimes and get into their own groove. Nothing promotes this better than a pair of Sony WH-XB900N wireless noise-cancelling headphones. These headphones block out distracting background sounds and allow the wearer to feel immersed in whatever music they’re listening to for up to 30 hours on a single charge. That means these headphones are ideal if dad plans to do some traveling in the future.

The last one on our list might make your dad balk at first. In fact, it seems a lot of folks are quick to raise their eyebrows at the very concept of the weighted blanket, but they really do help relieve anxiety. How does it work? The idea is that the weight of this plush quilt is meant to simulate the warm, comforting feeling of a hug — an act that reduces stress and helps humans relax. Move over, Snuggie, there’s a new trendy blanket in town.

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