Father’s Day, Anniversary Gifts for Men & What to AVOID Giving Your Husband

I recently wrote about gift ideas and what to never buy your wife, and was asked to also include some guidelines on gifts for men in time for father’s day. I’m happy to oblige, with the caveat that you must first know your spouse, their preferences and dislikes. Thoughful gifts that fit their personality are more appreciated than generic gifts. So, if a shirt and tie have become your mainstay father’s day, birthday or anniversary gift, give it some more thought.

My own husband has never liked receiving gifts. He finds it much easier to give than to receive. He’s also very tricky to buy for, since he usually heavily researches any purchase. However, we’ve both gotten better about this over the years, and I asked for his input on stuff guys generally like. So, here goes:

  • If your man has ever wanted to race a car, fly a helicopter or plane, go up in a hot air balloon, go parasailing, or take golf lessons, this would make a unique experiential gift. You don’t have to break the bank; we recently found a Groupon offer for $75 for one helicopter lesson.
  • Most guys like electronics. Is there a new gadget he has had his eye on? If he’s a book lover, maybe the Kindle or iPad would be appreciated. A few years ago, I gave my hubby an ipod that was engraved with “You rock my world.” He liked it better than all the watches and shirts I’ve given him over the years.
  • Does your husband have a hobby for which he needs accessories (i.e. bicycling, photography, motorcycling, fishing, boating, woodworking)?
  • The gift of time to do something he enjoys without guilt. Write out a certificate that says a free weekend with the guys, fishing trip to Canada or whatever honks his horn.
  • Search the antique shops for something that would make him smile–a picture of a car he drove in an earlier era, a magazine from the year he graduated from high school or his birth year.
  • Give tickets to a sporting or musical event or a play–maybe even season tickets.
  • Have portraits taken for him, or compile some of his favorite pictures or videos together.
  • Plan an evening or weekend away with you with nothing required on his part. This time together can help you reconnect and rekindle your romance. Speaking of romance, I recently learned about a board game called A Private Affair, which would make an interesting gift. It’s sold as “an erotic game of secrets, plans and promises for couples.” While I haven’t seen the game in person, I’m thinking most men would prefer that to a tie. ****When I told the game’s creator I would share this with you, he offered to give one away!! So, anyone who posts a comment to this post will be entered into a drawing to win the game.
  • Beer, cheese, wine or fruit of the month club–or other gourmet food he enjoys.
  • My dad and husband have always enjoyed tools, but this should be reserved for DIYers who enjoy that kind of thing.
  • Fly in a friend or relative with whom he would love to have a visit.
  • A limited edition book or rare album.
  • Read this great article on charitable gift ideas for dad.

I asked my hubby what gifts men receive that should be avoided. So BE WARNED:

  • Anything to do with personal grooming, such as a nose trimming kit. So, in case that was on your list, cross it off. 😉
  • Massage gift card–Many men might love this, but this is where you need to know your man. My guy hates them.
  • Dance lessons or anything you want to do, but you’re pretending is a gift to him.
  • Supplies for him to complete a project you want him to do. Again, it’s a gift for him, not you.
  • Do you really have to be the one to buy socks, underwear and belts for him?

P.S. I’m writing this addition after Father’s Day since I didn’t want to ruin  my husband’s surprise. I had a home video made for him to some of his favorite songs, with tons of pictures from our kids’ baby years, family vacations, holidays and fun moments together. He said it was the “best father’s day gift ever.” I collected all the images, and hired a family member who is great at that kind of thing. It’s something we will both treasure for many years.

I’d love to hear your ideas of great gifts or not-so-good ones. Guys, what is the FAVORITE gift you have received, and what do you wish you would not receive again? Do you like getting car wash cards, gift cards or other “generic” gifts, or does it seem too impersonal?

Comments are now closed for the drawing of A Private Affair. It will be awarded shortly.

Photo credit: PhotoXpress.com

48 responses to “Father’s Day, Anniversary Gifts for Men & What to AVOID Giving Your Husband

  1. Great post Lori – I love the point about the personal grooming equipment particularly the nose hair trimming kit.

    Another great gift idea is time spent together doing something he loves – like goes to see that movie you wouldn’t necessarily pick but you know he’s been wanting to see or that theme park he loves that would rather pass on.

  2. Lori – these are great ideas! My husband prefers a thoughtful gift, even something I give to someone else in his name – like a needy family or charity. I do this every year at Christmas, but I’ve never thought of doing it for Father’s Day. Hmmm, I’ll have to think on this one. Thanks for the post!

    • Debi, there’s a small campaign to give charitable gifts for father’s day, and I think it’s a great idea!! Many men don’t need the gift cards, shirts, ties, etc., and that $50 or $100 can go a long way toward helping a child or family in need or a charity with a good cause. Thanks for the idea!!

  3. Thanks for the great ideas! I always have such a hard time coming up with something for my husband. While he definitely has hobbies, it’s hard to buy accessories for a motorcycle or bicycle unless he tells me EXACTLY what he wants for them. I’ll have to check Ticketmaster for some concerts, or maybe an Indians game and night out with the family.

    And I swear I’m not just posting to try to win the board game! 😉

  4. I’m laughing because I think I once purchased a grooming kit for my poor husband.

    What I usually encourage each Father’s Day is time for my husband to spend with his father. They have always enjoyed playing golf together. These memories are especially precious now that his father has suffered a bad fall and may not be playing golf again. When asked what my husband would like for Father’s Day this year he replied that we would all be driving up to visit his father. No arguments from me, of course. I think it’s great for him to spend time with the man who helped him become the father he is today.

    • What a sweet gesture. It’s great he still values time with his father and that you respect their close bond!

  5. I’d have to say the experiential gifts mean the most to me. We can all collect stuff, but life is all about experiencing new things. My wife recently sent me skydiving for the first time in my birthday and it was awesome! I’ll never forget that!

  6. I used to work out of town a week at a time, and in preparation for my days away I’d leave my man short little love notes hidden away at home for him to find. He kept all the notes and now for our second anniversary I’m in the process of creating a bound book alternating between the notes, and pictures we’ve accumulated over the past years together. He’s such a mushy guy, I’m sure he’ll love it!

    • Heidi, that takes a lot of care and effort. Let us know how he enjoys! I have a secret project up my sleeve but I can’t share until after father’s day.

  7. Helping the kids honor and celebrate dad, especially when they are in their younger years, is a great gift, since it is mom setting the example before the children that dad is important and special. Many of your suggestions could easily incorporate or come from the kiddos. fwiw.

    • My dad still keeps many of the things I made for him more than 30 years ago, and I make sure my kids make special notes and cards as well. That is, after all, what the day is about–their bond. Great example.

  8. Thanks for this post. It’s been difficult to purchase gifts for my fiance’; almost as hard as it is to purchase quality gifts for my father. 🙂

  9. As simple as it sounds, I’ve always appreciated homemade cookies or a cake, or some unique dessert from a fancy recipe book. My wife knows I have a sweet tooth but after losing a bunch of weight a few years ago, I tend to deprive myself of all that good stuff. She’s a good cook (I’m not), and knowing she spent some time creating something special that I can enjoy guilt-free is really nice. I’m not a power-tool or “outdoor adventure” guy, and I hate receiving gifts that remind me of work (a dress-shirt, a tie, etc.) All I need are chocolate chips and a nice kiss (Hershey’s or otherwise 🙂

    • I like the homebaked concept. My husband doesn’t have a huge sweet tooth but he still appreciates the effort sometimes.

  10. It’s actually for our anniversary, but I suggested we go bowling instead of the nice dinner out. He loves it, and it’s not always my favorite thing!

  11. Kind of pathetic, but this year I’m asking for a uninterupted afternoon nap. With 5 kids, age 6 months to 14, catching up on sleep and relaxation sounds pretty good right now.

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  13. Pingback: A Little Something | Daily Generous Wife Tips

  14. I loved this article… except for one thing. My husband ASKS for the socks, underwear, etc. Even grooming kits when needed. Ugh! It’s pretty difficult to actually get him to fess up to things he is interested in, but this gave me some direction to at least pry into! Thanks.

  15. I’ve just suggested to my husband that he write a book of short stories, page or 2 each, about hot date nights leading to passionate, intimate times together. Of course, the stories would only involve us 2 and whatever ideas/fantasies he could come up with about us. I want him to do this for me for our anniversary next month, but I’m sure most ‘fathers’ would love to get this as a gift from their wives, too-any time of the year! They really enjoy knowing that we think about lovemaking at times other than when they’ve asked for it! I hope you have fun creating this gift idea!

  16. One of the most appreciated gifts I ever gave my husband was a collection of e-mails that I printed out and placed into a leather bound book. These e-mails were stories of different fantasies or moments with eachother that we sent back and forth while my husband was deployed. He still travels a lot so we continue to write these stories together and add them to the book. Plus, we both receive a gift when we get the opportunity to read the book together and see if the chapters live up to our expectations. And they always do! 😉

    • This is a great idea, and something I’m sure you will treasure in your family even into the next generation!

  17. Thanks for these ideas. My husband is hard to by for so my children and I have to listen to hear something he wants. He likes old tv shows so we have gotten him the tv series he likes.

  18. I had him pick out a tent. It was more a promise of things to come, because he wanted to go camping in Canada with his parents who are in their 70s. So really for Father’s Day, I gave him the choice of our family vacation.

  19. Thanks so much for the new ideas. I’m always looking for ways to change things up. My husband is really into flying so I have gotten him accessories in the past that he needs/wants when he is in the air. sometimes they don’t mean much to me but he loves them! He also enjoys reading magazines so I have gotten him subscriptions in the past as well.

    • I guess the trick to accessories is knowing exactly what he wants or having an idea from someone else in the hobby. I like subscriptions as well. Thanks.

  20. For my husband the key is to do something for him that he won’t do for himself. This year Father’s Day came at the end of his first week of work, following more than 6 months of unemployment. Buying new ties for work was a celebration of having a job, and something he would not have spent money on for himself. In years past I have also ironed 2 weeks worth of work shirts, paid for yard work, and ordered hard to find items from Amazon…things he won’t do for himself.

  21. 🙂 good reminders!


    For Father’s Day this year, the kid and I try to make my husband feel as special as possible. We had four small gifts (one from each of our kids old enough to give a gift–my 21 mo old and two week old did not have gifts to give) but I made his favorite meal –I didn’t go to church because some of the kids were sick. When he got home, we had his gifts wrapped, his favorite meal and dessert cooking, lounging clothes layed out on the bed and a foot spa ready to go. I think it is so much more about honoring him than the amount of money you spend–and thankfully he feels the same way. Heather

  23. Thanks for the great ideas! I always try to be creative and/or a little sneaky to get my husband something he doesn’t even remember mentioning. It’s fun to watch his face!

  24. I’ve had my eye on A Private Affair game….sounds like super fun!!

  25. Favorite gift received: notes from my children that tell me how much I mean to them. My love language is words of appreciation so poems, a rap even, and cards with heartfelt comments from my teenages really hit the mark. The fireworks are very cool, too.

  26. My daughter gave my husband a journal (nice leather one) with an amazingly sweet letter in it about how much and why she loves him. Her goal is to use it to write a new letter in each Father’s Day or other occasion that merits a sweet letter.

  27. Thanks for all your generous wife tips. They help to inspire me and keep me on track as a generous wife.

  28. I have been wanting to buy that game for some time now!

  29. My husband is hard to buy for. If there is something he wants and we can afford it, then he usually gets it. Husbands, doing that makes it hard for us wives.

  30. it took a bit to learn the groove of what to get my husband, but it really speaks to how well you know your husband if you know his likes and desires. 🙂 i have a short list of must-gets now. i like to tease him beforehand about it (“you’ll really like this”, “you can’t guess what i got you”, “i didn’t get you something spectacular, but you can definitely use it”, etc.). his mom’s default is socks, which i will never do!

    oh, and thinkgeek.com is a wonderful store for anybody’s geek. 🙂 candy and chocolate is another great gift, especially for just-because gifts. 🙂

  31. oh, another idea. get him a gift certificate to an online sex toy/lingerie store. i googled and found two christian stores:


    i’m sure a lot of husbands would really appreciate this gesture.

  32. oo hoo, board games, my husband is an addict to board games. I’m still trying to adapt and adopt to his fanastism.

  33. Pingback: Shopping for Fathers Day | A monthly online magazine chock-full of insightful articles for busy mothers.

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