Sometimes, the best way to nail down what you should get dad for Father’s Day is to first figure out what you shouldn’t get him.
Ahead of June 19, we rounded up five things to avoid buying for this year’s Father’s Day gift, either because dad probably wouldn’t like them or they’re not cost effective. And just in case your intended gift idea somehow landed on this list, we’re giving you some reasonable alternatives, too.
A gym membership
The thing dad absolutely doesn’t want is a pass to the gym. An overwhelming 92% of dads would rather be gifted anything other than a gym membership, according to a 2016 Father’s Day survey conducted by cash-back website Ebates.
So whatever you do, don’t give dad a message that he needs to get in better shape. If your father is athletically inclined, consider giving sports equipment like a basketball or golf clubs or tickets to a sporting event, such as a baseball game.
Sure, dad would love a shiny new grill, but your wallet probably wouldn’t be quite as fond of this purchase. We’re listing a barbecue under our “don’t buy” category because it’ll cost you a hefty chunk of change this time of year.
Father’s Day falls in the same month as the start of summer, and that’s when grills historically reach their peak in price. If you can, purchase a gift that’s on sale instead, like tools or apparel. And save the grill for a Christmas gift.
Next up on our skip list is the all-too-common cologne. Just like mom is likely growing weary of flowers and perfume for Mother’s Day, dad will appreciate it if you think outside the box this Father’s Day.
If you want to stick to the grooming category, consider something a little less conventional. We’d recommend useful gifts like a razor and shaving cream.
We’ll file this one under “the gift that may never get used” category. Unless your dad is passionate about his cup of joe, that quirky coffee mug with the “#1 Dad” logo on the side of it may end up collecting dust in the kitchen cabinet.
Instead, go for something more sophisticated, like a single-serve coffee maker and travel mug. Or opt for a gift card to Starbucks or your neighborhood coffee joint so dad can get his caffeine fix while he’s on the go.
Nonspecific gift cards seem like the perfect present, right? But be careful — many gift cards come with hefty activation fees (all Visa gift cards carry a $3.95 fee, for instance). And that money would be better spent on a product or service for dad.
If you have your heart set on a gift card, NerdWallet recommends opting for a store-specific gift card instead. So pick a hardware store, department store or something similar. In general, these types of gift cards won’t require an activation fee, so you and dad can get your full money’s worth.
Instead, go for what he wants and needs
No matter what type of gift you select, always keep dad in mind before you buy. Sure, that shirt and tie look dapper, but are they his style? And yes, that high-tech tool is the newest drill on the market, but does dad have enough lingering home improvement projects to put it to good use? Utility trumps uniqueness.
And if you’re totally stuck, try asking mom for a little inspiration. More likely than not, she knows exactly what dad needs and what he has way too much of.