• With Father’s Day fast approaching we are inundated by the media with suggestions for “The Best Father’s Day Gifts.” With all of the hoopla, which list is right? I’m skeptical because they don’t know each of us and most list sponsors have the ulterior motive of selling us something. The truth is, that having a father, thankfully, and being a father myself should make me an authority on gifts for dads. So I figured I should be able to come up with some decent gift ideas. Yet after a week of pondering the topic I was still drawing a blank.

    My sudden revelation this weekend was to give them something that they cannot give themselves.

    Then, as I was dragging the trash cans to the curb this weekend, it finally hit me! What would be the best gift idea ever? Not just for Father’s Day but for Mother’s Day, Grandparents Day, Secretary’s Day, etc? If you’re not one of the fortunate ones buying a gift for a person who tells you exactly what they want, then keep reading. Because most of us are dealing with people who are too shy, too humble, don’t want to impose, or have some other reason for not letting us know what would make them happy. My sudden revelation this weekend was to give them something that they cannot give themselves. Save them time and money! Here’s my breakdown of gift levels—with examples/suggestions listed under the good and best ones.

    Bad – Do Nothing. You forget about them and the occasion altogether. So- no card, no gift and no recognition of the event. If you realize that you’ve missed an occasion step up and say something. Mea culpa (Latin for my bad or my fault) works well here. Apologize, acknowledge, and make a note to yourself to not repeat the mistake in the future.

    Neutral – You have good intentions but your gift necessitates additional work for the person receiving it. For example – buying something that is not quite what they asked for or wanted so that they are stuck going back to the store to exchange/return it.

    Good – You’ve done your homework and know exactly what they want. You even add a personal touch by making something special for them (art project, etc.). You’re in the good range but the question is do they really need it and where are they going to put it? Gift certificates/cards to stores avoid the accumulation of ‘stuff’ factor temporarily. Gift cards for services – massage, music lessons, yoga classes, golf lessons, time at the driving range, etc – may work if they are specific to your recipient’s lifestyle eliminates the accumulation of things and are usually appreciated…if they get used!

    Best – This is the homerun category. The safest and most appreciated gifts, these lighten the recipient’s workload and do not involve ‘stuff’. Here you demonstrate that you appreciate your recipient’s role in your life. These are gifts that take some of the burden off of them and share some of their responsibilities. You can gift for a day, or for a longer period of time. Ideas which fall into this category include; taking out the trash, doing dishes, washing the car(s), cleaning the garage, housecleaning, mowing the lawn, taking over the kids’ morning or bedtime routine, etc. Give your secretary or assistant the day off with a gift certificate for a massage (and the appointment already made for that day). If you have older parents consider giving them a cleaning service or lawn service once a month, home-cooked meal delivery every other week, or something that helps them negotiate things that they might find more challenging. Make sure that you give a specific day/time range for these gifts because to offer and then not actually ‘give’ would move a gift from this category into a sub-bad level! Follow through here is vital.

    Once you open your eyes to really see what each person in your life does you will notice where help would be appreciated. Then open your mind and you might be surprised by how many great ideas come to you. This may help you begin to look at Father’s Day, and all of the other ‘Days’ as less of a hassle and more of an opportunity to show your appreciation without necessarily spending a lot of money. Though it’s true that it’s the thought that counts, why stop there?!