Gift Guide

50 Pretty Good Father’s Day Gifts For $50 or Less!

Although every family is different, lots of people have trouble thinking of things to get for dads. Most of them don’t accessorize much or make boards of stuff they like on Pinterest. That’s why magazines and other blogs do lists like this, but lots of the suggestions on them strike me as impractical, and many are too expensive.

So here’s my list. A few ideas are from other people’s lists or Pinterest, but most of them are my own. I had dads and grandpas in mind for these, but lots of them could work for husbands, other dads, or other people too. I’m assuming a male recipient and saying “he,” but I know there are exceptions. Even if you don’t have Father’s Day where you are (or it’s not in June), you might find an idea for another occasion. Hope you see something you like here, and as always, add your own suggestions!

1. I would really like to get my dad a sonic screwdriver: not a fake one, but the exact thing that Doctor Who has. At least this Leatherman Skeletool multitool can do all kinds of things, and the Amazon reviews are great. $44.39.


2. The Joby Gorillatorch is a flashlight with bendy legs and magnetic feet, so it can hold itself anywhere, at any angle, while your dad fixes the car or the pipes or something in the basement. Brilliant! $18, last I checked.



3. The same people also make these camera tripods! $20 for regular, $50 for SLR Zoom, whatever the heck that means.



4. Lots of dads like drills. Reviewers are saying this Black & Decker one is a really good value for $50.

5. A subscription to Hulu Plus. ALL THE TV! (Well, almost.) It’s $8 a month, and you can give one month or as many months as you choose. If you’re not clear on the service, you can watch their one-minute video about it.

6. Of course, a subscription to Netflix is nice, too. You can get an Internet subscription (no DVDs by mail) for 1, 2, 3, or 6 months, and it’s $8 a month.

7. If he doesn’t have HBO and he’s kind of a nerd like you, get him the first season of Game of Thrones so you can nerd out about it together! OK, the main dad in here gets killed at the end of season one, but I don’t think your dad will mind. $42.



8. If you think he would prefer less boobs and blood, he might dig Sherlock, Season One. $24.50.

9. I may get my dad Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, because he hardly ever goes to movies and he loved the book. (Mom, if you’re reading this article, don’t show it to dad! Haha.) The DVD + the book would be a cool present too! $27 for the DVD.



10. Continuing the entertainment theme, movie gift cards are great. Just figure out what’s the biggest movie chain in his area, and go to their website. Maybe wrap it with a couple of boxes of Sno-Caps or Junior Mints! Incidentally, most people love to get gift cards, but many people feel bad about giving them. That’s just silly. It’s not impersonal if you include a personal message. A gift card to someone’s favorite store or restaurant is always a great idea.

11. If he drives a lot or if he’s going on a road trip or two this summer, he might like a $50 gift card for Sirius XM. It’ll give him 3 or 4 months with 130 channels. (I say “3 or 4” because I’m guessing there are extra fees besides the listed subscription price.) Just make sure it’s available for his vehicle: you can check here.

12. Another good car thing! You put it in the cupholder, plug it into the DC outlet, and use it to charge up your phone, Kindle, small laptop, or whatever you need. Just don’t charge while the car is off, because you’ll drain the battery. 200 watt max, $31.64.


13. Or get one of these car organizers (this one is $14.51) and pre-load it with a water bottle, a cheapo pair of sunglasses for when he can’t find his, road snacks, that kind of thing.



14. Let’s talk about food for a while, because I’ve noticed a lot of people like to eat food. I bet this buffalo summer sausage is good, and he probably doesn’t have it every day. You can order 3 12-ounce sticks for $36, and they’ll ship it from Kansas for free. (The basket doesn’t come with it, but you could put it in a basket. He probably doesn’t need a basket anyway.)


15. Beehive Cheese Co. makes a cheddar called Barely Buzzed that is hand-rubbed with finely ground artisan coffee and lavender buds. Oh my God. You can send him a pound of it for $26 + $14 shipping, so yeah, an indulgence, but it does sound amazing. I will probably get send some to my brother for his birthday next month, because he’s as big of a cheese freak as I am.



16. You could send a bunch of foods that your city is known for to a dad or grandpa who lives far away. Being in Kansas City, I would probably choose Christopher Elbow Chocolates and Arthur Bryant’s BBQ Sauce – two great tastes that don’t taste great together! First, you could order some medium flat rate boxes from the USPS, who will deliver them to your door for free. Then you could fit as much food as possible in there and ship it off priority mail for $11.35.

17. Or if you want to send your dad a batch of homemade cookies, here’s an article about how to do it! Someone in the comments section said softer cookies like peanut butter and chocolate chip stay softer longer if you package a piece of bread with them.

18. Make him an iPod playlist! You may want to give him some tracks of more recent recordings that have old-time roots: Wolfmother, Them Crooked Vultures, or the Black Keys if he’s a rocker;  Bobby Womack, Sharon Jones,  Charles Bradley, or hell, Adele, if he’s an R&B kind of guy. Add a note telling him how much he rocks.

19. He doesn’t have an iPod? Get an iPod shuffle for $49 and fill it up with songs you already have that he might like, and explain to him that’s what you’ve done. It will make him feel cool! Maybe he already is cool, but now he’ll be cool and have a bunch of new music!

20. Oh! And if he loves The Boss, he might like this brand new book about Bruce Springsteen, $19.17 hardcover, and/or this documentary about Bruce making Darkness On The Edge of Town, $14.99.




21. If he really likes guns, or alternately, is a gun control activist, he’ll probably be interested in Glock: The Rise of America’s Gun by Paul M. Barrett, which talks about the gun’s development, its crafty marketing strategy, and the company’s spats with the NRA. $15.47 hardcover, $13 for Nook.



22. The Hatfield and McCoy story sounds fascinating, and this book by Lisa Alther was well-reviewed. $14.86 hardcover, $10.39 for Nook.




23. A fan of mysteries might enjoy Stolen Prey by Pulitzer Prize winner John Sandford. It’s 22nd in a series, so if he likes it, you can get him more for Christmas. $16.19 hardcover, $12.99 Nook.




24. And to round out my list of mostly violent reading suggestions: Unbroken: a WWII Story. It got a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly, and it was written by Laura Hillenbrand, the author of Seabiscuit. $15.34 hardcover, $12.99 Nook. Of course, audiobooks are great for someone who is visually impaired or travels a lot (or both.)



25. This pair of Nike sunglasses were $49.99 when I checked, though prices bounce around a bit on Their shipping is always $3. Maybe an aviator style would be better for him. See what you think.



26. If that bag he keeps his shaving stuff in is getting all crusty and gross, get him a new one. These leather bags were $48 when I checked on You could always put some shaving gel and razors or fancy grooming things in there.



27. Give him a hat, especially if he’s outside a lot, or he lives in Arizona. You don’t want him to get skin cancer! This one is ventilated and the reviewers at REI seem to like it. $29.50.




28. If he always goes to Great Clips, maybe get a gift card to treat him to a haircut at a salon where they massage your head, because that feels really good. Here in the middle of the U.S. a $50 gift card will cover this, though your prices may be different. Check places close to him for gift cards, or go to SpaFinder, which issues gift certificates accepted by thousands of places, and see if they have any participating salons in his area.

29. Buy a large weekly pill organizer. In each compartment, tuck a pice or two of candy and a little note telling him one of the reasons you love him. The price to meaningfulness ratio on this gift is outstanding, and it would be a darling gift from little kids to a dad or grandparent. If it’s from you, you could also include a little gift or two like folded-up tickets to a baseball game, a cool silver ring, a magnet, a vintage good luck penny, or whatever comes to mind.

30. Honestly, if he’s a grandpa, he will probably dig a mug with his grandkid(s) on it. Shutterfly has the regular mugs discounted to $11.19 at the time I’m writing this, and the travel mugs are $20 for the 16-oz size and $25 for 20-oz. I’m not sure about the shipping, but look for free shipping promo codes if you’re getting more than one. This gift will take a little extra time, so you need to get on it now if you’re going to do it. If you’re presenting it in person, maybe wrap it with some specialty coffee.


31. Oh, and this is very cute: a recordable artwork kit, in Hallmark stores. A kid can paint a picture, put it in a frame, and record an explanation of the painting or a little message for her grandpa so he can hear her cute little voice. $15. You can watch a demo here. Full disclosure: I work for Hallmark Cards, though the opinions I express on P-Mag are only my own.



32. sells all kinds of guayabera shirts in different fabric blends and somewhat extended sizes. Lots of them come in black. The linen one shown here is $40. These are great to wear to beach weddings, by the way. I don’t know how fast these guys are with shipping, so maybe order early.



33. Seersucker shirts never really look wrinkled and let in a lot of breeze. The ones at Eddie Bauer come in lots of different colors and go up to size Tall 3XL. $40 for regular sizes, and the larger sizes are on sale for $30.

34. Or give him some new tee shirts, if he is the kind of guy who can never bring himself to buy new ones for himself! It sounds boring, but he’ll appreciate it.

35. If you’ve got a little time and skills, monogram some handkerchiefs for him. Here are a few tips at ehow and designsponge. I bet you can find free patterns online, or at least from an embroidery book at the library. If you get good at this, you can also make monogrammed sachets for people and things like that, and everyone will think you are utterly charming, which you are.



36. Or you could monogram drinking glasses for him! I really want to try this. Merriment Designs explains it all to you.



37. I love Minnetonka Moccasins because they last forever. Even my little dog is having a hard time destroying the one she got hold of. They’re comfy, too. These soft-soled ones (basically slippers) are $40 with $3 shipping.



38. Lego White House, $44.12. Or you could get him the Rockerfeller Center, Guggenheim Museum, or Big Ben.

39. Dominion. This detailed card game about grasping for more land and power is apparently pretty fun for the whole family. Get it for your dad and play it with him maybe, or get it for your husband and get the kids to play. There are a bunch of other versions if you like it. $30.47.



40. If he has an iPad, you could get him a game, or a bunch of them. There’s an iPad version of Carcassone ($10), which is another game from the makers of Dominion. I love the quirky graphics of Beat Sneak Bandit and Contre Jour ($3 each), and Infinity Blade II looks epic ($7). I really want the word game SpellTower ($2.) Just go to the iTunes store and choose “gift this app.”

41. These wine glasses are made from upcycled wine bottles that were already made out of recycled glass. Awesome. $20 for set of 4, ships free from Zappos.


42. And! The company Ocean Minded makes these beach sandals out of a lot of recycled materials! There are several different men’s styles for $36, and again, ships free. (PS: they make lots of cute ones for ladies as well.)


43. And these Nike shorts use all recycled fibers for the lining, if you’re buying for a dad who likes to move around and stuff. Up to 2XL. $39 and free shipping.

44. A new belt. This one is from Fossil, goes up to size 44, and costs $32.



45. I’m not a whiskey drinker, but Abelour 12-year-old Double-Cask Matured Scotch is considered a very good value. You can find it for around $45. People also say good things about Bulleit Bourbon, George T. Stagg 2nd Edition, and the more familiar Crown Royal Reserve, all in the same price range.



46. A beer drinker would probably love an assortment pack of 12 beers, especially if there are some they’ve never tried before. You can do this at most liquor stores, of course!

47. If he doesn’t drink alcohol at all, maybe send him Boylan Root Beer, at $40 for a 12-pack with free shipping. Some people think it’s the best root beer in the world. It reportedly has a bit darker and heavier taste than most. I bet it makes amazing ice cream floats.

48. Hey, an ice cream machine might be fun, actually. This one is $50, but you might find a better deal at WalMart or Target.

49. A bracelet from etsy. Obviously there are tons of choices! Some of these are custom-made, so look now if you’re interested.

 50. Give him a magazine subscription! The New Yorker costs $30 for six months, but hey, it’s weekly. Car and Driver and Smart Money both cost $5 for a year on Amazon right now, Popular Science and Family Handyman both cost $7 a year, Esquire is $8. You get the idea– there are a lot of good deals. It can take a while for subscriptions to kick in, so wrap a current issue with a note that more are coming.

By Bryn Donovan

Romance writer, poet, quilter, and dog cuddler.

15 replies on “50 Pretty Good Father’s Day Gifts For $50 or Less!”

I think I might get my dad the big Gorrillapod. His camera’s are all analog SLRs (read here, heavy and made of metal) so the more robust option of the two seems like the best idea. Ye olde locale camera shoppe carries them and he keeps doing the look and put it back thing when we are in there.

My father always exercised in cotton shirts, which I thought was crazy, but he didn’t think was any big thing. Oh, and THEN I bought him one of those quick-dry t-shirts, which he thought was a totally ridiculous indulgence. And he was/is a convert ever more.

Once I bought him a Pink Floyd t-shift from one of those rocker stores that he’d NEVER go into. That was another win.

I usually just end up asking the mister what he’d like for dinner that night (made or going out) and then the kids make him a card and he’s good.

My dad isn’t alive anymore, but when he was, I was always shit at presents. Still he was usually pretty happy to have his Diet Pepsi supply re-upped and to get a music gift card of some sort.


Yes, especially when he had to watch his caffeine intake, he liked it when I was able to track down the 24 oz bottle of diet caffeine free, because for some reason the stores around here (I lived in a different city at the time) didn’t carry them that often. Presenting him with two 6 packs of those was actually a pretty good present!

My father is horrible when it comes to presents. Some people you can educate/broaden their mind a bit when it comes to gifts, but he can’t think past psychology/food/sports. Which is no fun for someone who likes to give inspired gifts. So there will probably the Psych Mag, a bottle of wine and some cheeses, he will nod and say thanks and that will be it. (Do I sound bitter? Not at all!)

My father likes history, particularly military-ish stuff, so I went to a local bookstore and found that there’s a local publishing house that’s reprinting journals from (white/Euro) explorers.  $40 is normally a bit more than I would spend on a book, but a hand numbered hard-back from a run of only 500 with a pull out map is something that’s pretty danged interesting.

I’ve also learned to look for local historians and history profs and keep an eye out for their publications.  Some are total Mary-Sue family history/ annotated geneologies, but others are pretty danged nifty and legit.

Oh! And something I’ve given as a gift before, if any of you have crafty dads: Instamorph moldable plastic.  My father uses it to make mounts to support the fragile sections of the things he builds while putting it all together.


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