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How to shop for dad

Info Guru, Catalogs.com

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Put a smile on dad's face with the right gift
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Learn how to shop for dad by forgetting what dads are supposed to want

It doesn't matter if it's his birthday, Father's Day or a holiday. When it comes to gifts, dads have gotten the short end of the stick. Between the endless stream of ties and the mountains of soap-on-a-rope, it's pretty clear most us don't know how to shop for dad.

I think it's time to change that. So for the clueless dad-gift shoppers among us (and yes, I'll admit, I used to be one of those!), here's a quick guide to finding presents your dad or grandpop or uncle will actually like. Maybe even love!

Listen!!!  No, I mean it! REALLY listen!


It may come as a surprise to many, but dads really do talk about what they like. The problem is, most of us aren't doing a very good job of listening.

Next time you dad comments on the cool camping gear they saw in a catalog, pay attention! Then order it. And make sure your dad has a chance to use it, even if that means you have to miss a weekend with your buddies to go camping with him!

Or if he talks about that novel he's always wanted to write, think about presenting him with a new tablet for on-the-go creativity. Or inspire him with a book by Hemingway, a travel case for an impromptu writing get-away or a truly amazing pen to jot down his ideas.

Watch what he watches

Next time you're out with your dad, watch what he looks at in stores. Make a note about what he says he can't find. Look at what he touches or picks up.  All of those are great clues to the things your dad would like, but (and here's the big piece...) is NOT buying for himself.

That means all of those things are potential gifts that your dad might really like to find under the wrapping paper.

If your dad isn't one for stores, and you get a chance to chill with him on the couch, you can still learn a lot by paying attention to what he's watching when the remote's in his hand. Is it the History Channel? Maybe an offbeat history book about his favorite time period.

Or if the music channels are his choice, how about an LP to digital converter, a great pair of headphones or an iPod loaded with his favorite tunes?

A really radical suggestion

Watching, listening, and paying attention are all great ways to learn how to shop for dad. But I have one more suggestion. I know it's radical. Way out there, even.  But for the good of your family, I'm willing to go out on a limb here.

If you want to figure out what dad will like a whole lot more than that same old tie-and-aftershave routine ... You. Need. To. Ask. Him.

Whoa!  I know!

But all joking aside, it's amazing how many of us don't consider just asking dad or grandpa what they'd like for their birthday or the holidays. Yes, their first reaction is likely to be something like "Oh, I don't need anything" or "Whatever you want to get me." 

And if you're a kid, he probably means it. Dads usually do love whatever their little ones make or buy for them. But if you're an adult buying a gift for your dad, odds are he'll be willing to provide you with a few ideas for things he'd really like to have but won't buy for himself.

If all else fails ...

If you really can't get an answer out of dad, and all your listening and watching isn't yielding any ideas, a gift that you and he can enjoy together might work well. A chess set or other board game you two can play together (or the whole family can play together), some great kitchen gear you two can use to cook together, or a super-cool compass to use on a shared day of exploring are all options.

With a gift to use together, your dad will get a present -- and your presence -- all in one wonderful package. And that's a present any dad would love to receive.

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