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32 Cheap & Unique Father’s Day Gift Ideas to Show Dad You Care

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Coming up with unique Father’s Day gift ideas can be difficult. Sure, you can always pick up another “Best Dad Ever” coffee mug or a tie to add to his ever-growing collection – but why not get him something fun and unique this year instead?

Fortunately, coming up with a way to show your dad, grandfather, or the father of your children that you care doesn’t have to drain your bank account. The following ideas are sure to fit into your budget and help turn this Father’s Day into more than just another day.

Inexpensive Father’s Day Gifts

1. Create Retro Clip Art Labels

Turn Dad’s favorite foods and beverages into custom gifts this Father’s Day. You can find free clip-art programs and designs online and customize them to fit your dad’s personality. Save them to your computer, print them out, and use double-sided tape to cover the label on his favorite prepackaged foods. You can also create new snack jars and decorate them with your unique designs. Average cost: Free; $1 to $5 for empty DIY jars

2. Gather Decorative Stoppers

Combine craft-store corks with new or vintage drawer-pulls of cast metal, painted porcelain, and faceted glass to build a collection of shapely carafes for extracts and oils. If you find the perfect drawer-pull at a flea market but it’s missing its bolt, purchase one separately at your local hardware store. Simply mark the center of the cork’s top, dab a little glue onto the bottom of the screw, and insert it at the mark. Average cost: $5 and up, depending on the type of pull and hardware needed

3. Create Map Coasters

Make customized drink coasters by transforming maps from Dad’s childhood home or favorite vacation spot. Purchase round cork coasters at your local craft store and place them on the back of the map. Use a pencil to draw a circle around the coaster, cut it out, and apply glue sealant with a brush to completely cover one side of the coaster. Press the map to the coaster, making sure to smooth any bubbles. Average cost: $5 or less

4. Embellish a Cookbook

You can always purchase a cookbook as a gift – but why not take it a step further and customize it just for Dad? Buy one at your local bookstore and add special touches, such as a pocket for recipes and notes, or a pencil holder if Dad is prone to improvising and altering recipes. You can also develop a system with color-coded tabs so he can mark the family’s favorite meals. Average cost: $10 to $20, depending on the price of the cookbook

5. Organize Dad’s Workbench

While going through a man’s tools can be tricky if Dad likes things a certain way, it can also be the perfect inexpensive Father’s Day gift. If he has many supplies, it’s easy to get disorganized when he’s focused on a project. Help him organize the workbench so he can work more efficiently, or purchase shelves and drawers where he can store spare parts and tools. Average cost: Free; $10 and up for organizing shelves

Organize Dads Work Bench

6. Compile a Photo Collage

Take brand new photos of the kids or use some of Dad’s old favorites to create a free photo collage online. Either print the collage to hang on the wall, or replace the wallpaper on his tablet, smartphone, or computer with your finished product. This is a neat surprise that’s sure to remind him how much he’s loved by the family when he first turns on his electronics each day. Average cost: Free

7. Order a Memory Flip Book

A video of a tossed wedding bouquet, baby’s first steps, or a well-struck golf ball can be converted into a photo flip book for Dad to enjoy time and again. Websites like FlipClips can turn a 10- to 30-second digital video file into a palm-sized book with pages that re-create the big event when Dad flips through them. You can choose from a range of custom-cover options and sizes. Average cost: $15 to $30

8. Make a Car Wash Kit

If Dad enjoys spending time with his wheels, purchase an inexpensive bucket at your local dollar store and decorate it with a label that says, “Dad’s Car Wash Kit.” Fill it with his favorite brands of auto detailing soap, rags, sponges, and wax. You can also purchase a pre-made car wash combo, but it will be much more costly than creating your own. Average cost: $1 to $30, depending on supplies

9. Build a Father’s Day Gift Basket

Not all dads love chocolates and sweets. Rather than giving Dad a “card and candy” gift, why not compile a gift basket just for him? Fill it with gift cards, mints, gum, money, word searches, movies, pistachios, peanuts, beef jerky, pork rinds, and any other snacks or foods he enjoys. Average cost: $10 to $30

10. Clean His Car

If Dad is particular about the way his car looks, but has fallen behind on cleaning duties because of a busy few weeks at work, why not take on the task yourself? This is often best done when he’s not around, so arrange for Dad to take a trip to the store with a family member in another vehicle giving you time to surprise him when he returns. Alternatively, avoid telling him when he gets home and instead wait until he gets into the car to go to work or run errands.

Get a bucket, soap, and sponge and give the car a good washing. Use a handheld vacuum cleaner or bring a small dustpan into the car to sweep out any crumbs and pieces of trash that have fallen on the floor. Make sure you fill the car with gas and use glass cleaner on the windshield and windows. If you don’t have time to detail the car for yourself, arrange for a professional cleaning from a local detailing company. Average cost: $15 to $25 if at home; $100 to $150 professional job, depending on the type and size of the car

Clean Dads Car

11. Expand His Technology

Sometimes, watching Netflix, Hulu Plus, or Amazon Prime in bed on a small tablet just isn’t enough. Google Chromecast, an HDMI streaming stick, allows media and tech junkies to enhance their viewing by mirroring content from their tablet or smartphone onto an HDTV. Since the device was first released in 2013, it has become relatively affordable, and it supports major apps such as HBO, Netflix, ESPN, and Pandora. Average cost: $25 to $35

12. Sign Up for a Club

For the sharp dresser, a gift card to the Trunk Club can be the perfect Father’s Day gift. The service sets Dad up with a personal stylist who packs and ships a trunk full of premium clothing right to his door. After it arrives, Dad has 10 days to try on the clothes and send back the items he doesn’t want to keep. Shipping is free both ways, and he only pays for what he keeps.

Similarly, Bespoke Post hooks fathers up with a freshly curated box of goods each month. With past themes ranging from grill-mastering and home distillery, to the best swagger-inducing socks, this monthly subscription box is sure to hit the mark. A beer-of-the-month club membership from Clubs of America is also a tried-and-true favorite among beverage enthusiasts. Average cost: $45 and up

13. Get App-Happy

If time is of the essence and you need a gift for Dad right away, why not get an app for his smartphone? This is a great gift for the man who enjoys practical gifts, and most apps tend to be inexpensive, if not free. You can also get him a Google Play or iTunes gift card and suggest popular apps that he might enjoy, such as Bloomberg, Gas Cubby, My Fitness Pal, MLB.com, GreenFinder, and BP Buddy. Average cost: Varies

14. Give the Gift of Words

Trying to find the perfect gift for a father-to-be? Instead of buying necessities for an upcoming baby, give the future father the hilarious – and useful – illustrated handbook Show Dad How. He can learn how to swaddle Junior, build a car out of cardboard, and even deliver a baby on the subway – which hopefully won’t be necessary. Average cost: $12

15. Make Sure He’s Prepared

A pocketknife or multipurpose tool from a sporting goods store or online merchant such as Orvis can be an excellent way to make sure Dad is prepared in any situation. Depending on the device, some products feature as many as eight tools in one: pliers, saw, can opener, slotted screwdriver, hammer, and more. He’s sure to be ready for anything with this tiny, portable find, and most are so compact that he won’t even feel it in his pocket.

Also, if Dad is an avid fisherman, a multipurpose tool can help when he’s out on the water. These devices are often equipped with tape measures, scales, bottle openers, serrated knives, and hook removers. Average cost: $15 and up

Purchase Pocket Knife

16. Craft Your Own Beer

If Dad is a beer enthusiast, give him the chance to try his hand at homebrewing. Starter beer kits can be found via online merchants such as Northern Brewer and Williams-Sonoma. Check your local beer distributors as well. These kits include everything Dad needs to do it himself, including a keg fermenter, cleanser, carbonation drops, yeast, brewing extract, hardware, labels, caps, and bottles. Average cost: $45 and up, depending on the size of the kit

Experiences

17. Plan a Date With Dad

Kids love to be in charge. Why not let them take Dad on a “date” of their choosing? Help them plan a special outing with him, such as a baseball game, picnic, or trip to the movie theater. Let the kids do the thinking and organizing – within reason, of course. You can be on standby to assist with details like making a reservation or purchasing tickets. Average cost: Varies

18. Have a Family Night

If Dad is big on family get-togethers and spending time with loved ones, pull out some board games and hold a fun family game night. If you already do this on a weekly basis, purchase a brand new game that Dad has been wanting to play. You can also organize a movie night complete with handcrafted tickets, popcorn, and movie theater-style buckets, snacks, and blankets. Make sure all electronics are turned off to avoid any distractions. Average cost: Free; $5 to $10 for rental and popcorn

19. Throw a Backyard Party

When Dad is outside, it’s probably because he needs to mow the yard, take out the trash, or walk the dog. This Father’s Day, turn the deck or back patio into a beach getaway to give Dad his day in the sun. You don’t need ocean water or sand – some inexpensive beach-themed decorations, a cold refreshment, and a comfy lawn chair will do. Invite neighbors, family, friends, and other fathers over too.

If Dad is a romantic, you can also turn the outdoors into a backyard bistro by adding music and candlelight. Hook up a speaker through the window or use your smartphone to play his favorite tunes and serve him a home-cooked meal that he can enjoy under the stars. Make sure the kids keep quiet inside as much as possible so the mood isn’t ruined. Average cost: Free; $15 to $25 for food

20. Try His Favorite Hobby

Busy dads don’t often have much time to engage in their favorite hobbies, so why not make it a priority to let them on Father’s Day? Whether it’s playing chess, shooting pool, restoring classic cars, playing the guitar, woodworking, gardening, or even ballroom dancing, Dad is sure to appreciate the time to do what he loves – and possibly teach the family about his hobbies too. Average cost: Varies depending on hobby

Try His Favorite Hobby

21. Go for a Drive

Plan a road trip with the kids and Dad. Drive through your neighborhood, or hit the open road and see where the car takes you. Pack a picnic lunch and make a stop or two at some of Dad’s favorite spots, like local parks, beaches, gardens, and cultural attractions to enjoy some fun family time together. You can also talk to other family members and friends, consult a visitor’s center, or do an online search to find highly rated activities and locations near you. Average cost: Varies

22. Get Outdoors for a Sports Day

If Dad is particularly sporty, there’s probably nothing he’d like more than the chance to engage in his favorite activities. Grab a soccer ball, baseball bat, or football and head outside for an afternoon of fun-filled sports. This can be a great opportunity for Dad to teach the kids about the sports he loves. Average cost: Free

Crafts for Kids

23. Make a Cutout Frame

How can kids express their love for Dad? If you’re looking for a project your children can enjoy working on, help them make a paper collage out of poster board or thick paper by cutting out the word “dad,” or his name, and taping printed photos of the kids into the letter holes. After you frame it, you’ve got the perfect adornment for any work desk. Average cost: Free

24. Design a Notepad

Let the kids reinvent this basic office staple for Dad. Buy a tall square notepad or a stack of Post-it notes and instruct them to design the sides of the paper by coloring a picture or writing a note telling Dad they love him. Every time he takes a piece of paper from the stack he’ll be reminded of his wonderful children. Average cost: $1 to $5

25. Write a Name Poem

Sit down with the kids and help them write a Father’s Day “name poem” for Dad – “F” for “Fantastic,” “A” for “Amazing,” “T” for “Tough,” “H” for “Handsome,” and so on. Not only is this a sweet way to show Dad how much he’s loved, it can also be a very educational activity for the younger kids. Average cost: Free

Write Name Poem

26. Decorate an Apron

For the dad who loves to cook, what better way is there to show that he’s loved than designing a unique apron for him to flaunt in the kitchen? Purchase a white canvas apron and fabric pens from any nearby craft store, and get your kids together to outline their handprints and write special messages to Dad. Other handprint Father’s Day gift ideas can include plaster molds or flower pots if Dad is an avid gardener. Average cost: $12 to $15

Gifts From a Spouse

27. Compile Father’s Day Coupons

Give Dad a booklet filled with homemade coupons. These can include a delicious breakfast, car wash, lawn mowing, complimentary foot rub, a day off from doing the dishes or bathing the dog, and more – the sky’s the limit. Customize the booklet based on what he really wants or whatever regular chores he could use a break from performing. Average cost: Free

28. Give TV Dibs

If you find yourself constantly intervening when your family fights over the remote, why not give Dad a break and let him have dibs on the remote control? He can relax, sit back, and watch whatever he wants all day long. Keep in mind that younger children may not understand, so have patience with them or put them on snack patrol if Dad’s belly starts to rumble. Average cost: Free

29. Fill a Shadowbox

Also known as scrapboxes, shadowboxes are three-dimensional picture frames that you can fill with trinkets, photos, and items to remember special occasions. For Father’s Day, design the box with a photo of Dad holding his child in the hospital for the first time. Include the baby’s newborn hat, hospital bracelet, and ultrasound photo. Dad can hang the shadowbox at home or at work and have a constant reminder of that special moment when he became a father. Average cost: $10 to $25

30. Cook Breakfast in Bed

While breakfast in bed may be thought of as a go-to inexpensive Mother’s Day gift, there’s nothing wrong with showing Dad a little appreciation by whipping up a hot breakfast for him. Let him sleep in on Father’s Day, especially if he’s the one who normally rises with the kids. Enlist the help of your children if possible, and make sure you clean the kitchen when you’re finished. Average cost: $6 to $10

Cook Breakfast In Bed

31. Offer a Manly Spa Day

Mothers aren’t the only ones who enjoy a little R&R from time to time. Stressed-out dads deserve a little pampering too. Draw a bath, light some candles, and pour Dad a glass of his favorite wine or grab a bottle of ice-cold beer. Add to the experience by offering him a therapeutic massage, or buy him a gift card to a local spa to have a professional treatment and pampering day. Average cost: Free if at home; varies depending on cost of gift card for spa services

32. Let Him Sleep In

Yes, Mother’s Day is traditionally known as the holiday for sleeping in, but fathers can also enjoy this opportunity just the same. Round up the kids when they wake and take them to the park or to a family member’s house to let Dad get a few extra hours of rest. Leave a note and tell him to call you when he wakes up so that you can return and continue to enjoy the day together. Average cost: Free

Final Word

The best Father’s Day gifts don’t need to break the bank. In many cases, some of the most rewarding gifts are absolutely free. Keep in mind these inexpensive Father’s Day presents to avoid draining your wallet, and remember that the memories made with Dad and your family can turn the day into the most valuable and cherished gift of all.

Do you have any fun and affordable Father’s Day gift ideas?

Mallory Hall
Mallory Hall, also known as That Copywriter Girl, is an experienced freelance writer and blogger with a B.A. in English. When she's not writing about parenting, frugality, budgeting, and personal finance for several print and online publications, including her own blog, How to Declutter Your Life, she can be found clipping coupons and seeking out the hottest deals for her own family and friends.

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