gifts they might actually want

34 Best Birthday Gifts for Every Type of Dad

Photo-Illustration: The Strategist; Photos: Retailers

My dad dabbles in almost every “dad” hobby you could think of fishing, firing up the grill, stargazing, brushing up on his World War II knowledge — yet he’s always the trickiest person on my list to shop for. Perhaps it’s because he never hints at wanting anything (or perhaps it’s because I feel the unbearable weight of owing my entire life to him …) Either way, before becoming a seasoned Strategist writer, I would spend weeks trawling for gift ideas for Dad and still come up short.

Knowing others might have suffered this same scenario, I combed through the internet and the Strategist archives to compile a list of birthday gifts sure to delight dads with all sorts of hobbies, interests, and guilty pleasures. From an indoor griddle that makes any month grilling season to a cozy illuminating beanie for dads who love to run at the crack of dawn, here are some gift ideas you might not have thought of. You can find all the options below on Amazon, but plenty are available elsewhere, too, for those who like to shop around.

For the dad who loves eggs

If Dad’s Sunday doesn’t get started until he has wolfed down a Gaston-level amount of sunny-side-ups, he’ll appreciate trying his hand at a new kind of preparation with this handsome Japanese pan. It produces rolled omelets that take a little practice, but what dad doesn’t love a project?

For the dad who experiments in the kitchen

You won’t find this slow-roasted-garlic seasoning on supermarket shelves, making it a delightful addition for dads with even the most stacked of spice racks.

For the dad who keeps it simple

A great quality, long-sleeved T-shirt is an essential in any dad’s wardrobe, and these just so happen to be our favorites.

For the dad who prefers home cooking to takeout

If your dad is anything like mine, retirement means trying new cookbooks and recipes on the weekly. With this wok — named our favorite thanks to its maneuverability, longevity, and loop for dangling over the hob — he can sear proteins, wilt down a mountain of veg, and reduce sauces, all in one.

For the dad who’s always complaining about tight muscles

Pro-Tec Spiky Massage Ball

For achy dads, this spiky ball (that Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard keeps in his bag at all times) is designed to knead out joint pain after a long day of running, cycling, or simply sitting around.

For the dad who puts snack time on his calendar

If your dad’s favorite nibble is nuts, here’s a bag of absolutely huge ones that will tide him over until Christmas. (And they taste good, too, like the best peanut butter.)

For the dad who’s just been promoted to granddad

This journal helps keep track of all the special early moments in the new baby’s life, and your dad’s new role as a grandfather.

For the dad who takes care of his cold ones

IceMule Large Classic Cooler

No matter the weather, he can keep his beer cool with this IceMule backpack-style cooler. It can hold up to 18 cans of beer plus ice — ideal for sipping on a summer afternoon.

For the dad who’d rather uncork

If a vintage is more his speed, here’s a very fancy cooler that will keep it fresh alfresco.

For the dad who toss and turns

With soothing white noise, this sound machine — a favorite of comedian Samantha Irby’s — will help him drift off.

For the dad who always books a window seat


If Dad racks up some serious air miles with work, he’s probably fed up with wriggling to get comfortable in an airline seat. But with this pillow — which is cozy and designed to slope against the window — he’ll arrive at his destination without the usual crick in his neck.

For the dad who hates checking his bags

If he has ever suffered an MIA-suitcase situation in the past, he probably hates handing over his luggage. But an easily trackable AirTag means he knows where his cases (or his keys or his wallet) are anytime.

For the dad who’s a Starbucks drive-thru regular

Chemex Glass Coffee Maker

He can skip the queue and brew his own coffee at home with this Chemex coffee maker (one we’ve recommended countless times).

For the dad who runs before the sun rises

This beanie is a twofer: It’ll keep Dad’s ears warm and light his way on early-morning or late-night jogs (actually a triple win if your dad is a fan of anything Minion themed, too).

For the dad who grills all year round

Grill dads need not forlornly hang their aprons in the wetter months as this cast-iron griddle is “the indoor grill that’s closest in spirit to firing up the charcoal,” restaurateur Alon Shaya says.

For the dad who’s the designated cook

Keep his fingers from getting scalded year-round, too, with these expert-recommended grilling gloves.

For the dad with moves like Jagger

Nothing beats vinyl when it comes to rewarding the patience of a dad who has spent 18 years waiting for a new original Rolling Stones release.

For the dad who didn’t even want the dog in the first place (or so he says)

If Dad’s separation anxiety is just as bad as the dog’s, this interactive treat-dispenser toy — which will keep his pal occupied for a while with different challenge settings — will give him peace of mind until he can get back home.

For the dad with a Goodreads account

He can flip away into the small hours with this handy clippable reading light.

For the dad with a regimented packing list

If everything has a designated place when Dad packs his luggage, he’ll appreciate the zillions of handy pockets in this sturdy Patagonia bag (that we named our absolute-favorite weekend bag of them all).

For the dad who likes breakfast in bed

We recommend this simple, easy to store bamboo laptop desks — with vents to prevent laptop overheating — for those that like to work from home. (But it works just as well for lazy Sundays, too.)

For the dad who still has a full head of hair

Make him even more smug by treating him to one of our favorite luxurious hair oils, which keeps hair looking silky and smooth even as the chilly winter winds start to nip at it.

For the dad who needs some downtime

We tested and loved the newest Sony noise-canceling headphones, a great gift for the dad who needs some quiet time (even in a bustling house).

For the dad who dreams of business class

Save your points and give him an upgraded experience (at a fraction of the cost) with these soothing, cooling eye gels (which work just as well for dads simply unwinding at home).

For the dad who got Disney+ purely for Nat Geo

If Dad’s enchanted by noticing the little things, let him delight in the really little things with this dinky microscope. It slips right into a pocket and can be used to see rocks, plants, and textures up close.

For the dad with a drawerful of photo albums

Not every dad takes blurry iPhone photos with thumbs in the corner (mine certainly doesn’t). This camera bag — which is handcrafted from Italian leather — shows just how much you appreciate his commitment to snapping the perfect shot.

For the dad who commutes

From $28

If he never has time to enjoy a hearty cup of coffee before heading off to work — and he refuses to pay Starbucks prices — give him a leakproof thermos that we named our best overall for its cleverly designed mouthpiece and temperature retention.

For the dad who doesn’t need Google Maps

Serious hikers need a serious jacket, and you won’t find one warmer (or more stylish) at this price point.

For the dad with a Brooklyn Museum membership

The Soul of a Nation Reader

Arts educator Asmaa Walton says that this book is an absolute must-have for anyone who loves visual art and history. The glossy, coffee-table book features work by icons like Gwendolyn Brooks, Jacob Lawrence, Faith Ringgold, and Lorraine O’Grady.

For the dad who always forgets the pump

For outdoorsy dads, this sleeping pad offers a good night’s sleep without the faff of a foot pump. “The best pad ever: It blows up with just a few breaths and is lightweight and supercomfortable,” says Rob Urry, father of four and a grandfather of 11.

For the dad who prefers to camp in his own backyard

These string lights will add a little razzle-dazzle to the back garden and make sure that his guests aren’t left in the dark on late summer nights.

For the dad who’s partial to a grilled cheese

Dads can whip up their world-famous sandwiches in our top panini press. It’s reliable, easy to clean, and can even be used for indoor grilling.

For the dad who’s a couch-snack connoisseur

If he’s got more of a sweet tooth, these nuggets combine creamy almond butter and sweet pretzels to effectively answer his cravings. They’re so good that actor Max Greenfield told us he struggles to portion-control them.

For the dad who has a study

Umbra Conceal Wall Shelf
$35 for 3
$35 for 3

We love these floating-illusion shelves that would mount nicely in a bookworm dad’s study.

For the dad with a perpetual knot in his back

If Dad eyes up the massage chairs in every departure lounge, he’ll appreciate this doodad that, with a bit of angling and shimmying, lets him work away at his knots.

For the dad who’s up for an adventure

Outdoorsy dads will appreciate the chance to get out on the water. They’ll also appreciate how easy it is to fit this kayak in the boot as it packs right down to the size of roughly two cereal boxes.

The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best acne treatments, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, natural anxiety remedies, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.

36 Best Birthday Gifts for Every Type of Dad