Boomer Dad’s den is an art walk of Kirkland socks, rogue Chapsticks, and vinyl that, like him, has aged into a choice vintage treasure. Because Boomer Dad actually remembers seeing Bo Diddley rail on his Gretsch guitar and having the Byrds play at his high school dance (shoutout Palisades High ‘65)—and he won’t let you forget it. Boomer Dad was here long before Shrek symposiums, he has seen all the extreme political pendulum-swinging of the 20th century, and he was on the ground floor of the rise and fall of the Cabbage Patch Kids. He has ridden the sands of time hard, man, and he’s got the Tevas to prove it.
All of this puts a lot of pressure on finding him a Father’s Day present. We, as millennial children, are known to be an individualistic generation that will accept nothing less than making Steve Miller pop out of a cake for the old man. At least, that’s how it feels sometimes. [Self-flagellates like the bad guy in The Da Vinci Code.] We just want the best for Dad, damnit. And like Boomer Dad, we prolly have a toxic exceptionalism complex.
So here’s an idea: Stop trying to live up to the impossible task of matching Boomer Dad’s epic, ~organic~ life experiences. Please. He has literally seen everything good, bad, and amazing from the raddest of decades. Finding him a great Father’s Day gift doesn’t mean one-upping that reality, you sweet, ambitious psycho, but rather, simply giving him something he needs, or likes, and thereby giving him the greatest gift of all: That message that you get him. It could be practical (make a Chapstick bouquet!), or a harbinger of simple joy (a new vodka brand). It could be a techie gadget, a gardening accessory, or a new cooler. It just has to be something that makes him go “Oh, yeah. I’ve been needing one of those.”
Boomer Dad doesn’t need to see more. He just needs to feel seen. Especially by Big Mouth Billy Bass.
Does he have an iPad yet?
They’re great for anyone, but especially boomer parents. Chances are that your boomer parents want an iPad for a smorgasbord of reasons, but especially because they're user-friendly, the novelty factor is still there since your parent probably doesn’t need it for work, and their friends probably have one. And “Did any generation in U.S. history embody 'keeping up with the Joneses' with the same vigor as the baby boomers?”, asks Daniel Indiviglio in an article on parental iPad lust in The Atlantic. The answer: Nope. They also won’t care if you get the gold one. They're not millennials! Their identity doesn’t depend on it!
The iPad holder from ‘Terminator’
Or maybe dad has been propping up that iPad for years with his slippery Planters Nuts fingers. Give him the next best thing to a third arm (this).
A mellow buzz, like the stuff he used to smoke
Dad Grass is the (almost) THC-free, legal CBD hemp that “[harkens] back to the experience of finding your father’s skunky shoebox,” explained Adam Rothbarth in his review of the low-THC bud, “I gave up pot half a decade ago, but when I first tried a Dad Grass joint, it really did take me back to that lazy-day feeling of smoking a J, fulfilling all of the enjoyable, ritualistic aspects...” It’s the kind of buzz that will gently lull Boomer Dad back to 1979.
Have David Sedaris show him how to write his memoirs
You know how at the dishwashing tail end of the party, everyone will start feeling sleepy until Dad whips out a random banger of hitchhiking story? It’s time to actually get him to write his lore down, and author David Sedaris’ Masterclass [screen fades to black] is the perfect fit: It’s accessible, hilarious, and will get him into the basics of what he needs to do to just start writing and having fun. “I’ll talk about connecting with people,” explains Sedaris in the class trailer, “I’ll talk about keeping a diary”. Chapters including, “Turning Observations Into Stories” and “Writing About Loved Ones” will make it a natural fit for Boomer Dad’s memoirs.
He still uses a cassette deck
… But he hasn’t leveled up since the 90s. Fix that, so he can slide in his band’s old singles and get you a knee-slappin’ listen. This Panasonic boy is a 20W cassette recorder (with USB ports) and great sound quality on four two-way speakers. “This boombox features natural surround sound,” explains B&H, “[and it] plays CD, CD-R/RW and MP3, has an AM/FM radio and a cassette recorder, and comes with a remote control.”
But especially cargo shorts (so much Chapstick storage). Carhartt has consistently advocated for the working class, and has been around since before your boomer dad was even born, so you know it has his respect. These are also the ideal body prop for his obligatory “Let’s rock ‘n roll” exit line.
For spying on the neighbors
Who’s making all that noise, at this time of night? Leave that up to dad and his 6,000 lumen strong face spotlight, baby. Ideal for general neighborhood nosiness, venturing into the basement, or going on night hikes. Follow the beacon.
A departure from Kirkland’s finest
Help him venture out from his usual mark-down jug from Costco (no shame; We love), with a nice Japanese vodka. It’s distilled from a white rice mash, then bamboo-charcoal-filtered to give it a smooth, mellow finish, which he’ll love explaining to his buds. Certified cooler than Tito’s.
For reading his Horatio Hornblower novels
If he’s the man who still believes luck, pluck, and a little hard luck will get you wherever you need to be in life, it might be time to give Boomer Dad a magnifying glass for reading the fine print of his favorite adventure paperback, as well as examining the issues with 1950s toxic positivity.
A hat that’s also an oracle
No address. No phone. No money. No clock. THE DREAM, DUDE. This hat can end up in one of two places: 1) on a gaslighting, straight sk8r boy in Bushwick with one painted fingernail, or 2) on your dad’s precious head. Its fate is up to you.
A wagon for his Catholic guilt
Carries up to 400 pounds of logs, debris, and feels.
Where does he get those hankies?
It’s time to add in a new set of players to the rotation (just… use all the sports metaphors) of his mysterious pocket hankies. These cotton, plaid hankies actually get softer with every wash, and will last him years. Better for Dad, and for the planet. Gross for his pants pockets, but whatever. It’s his life.
Lean on me
Frankly, anyone who is over the age of toddler needs one of these. Why would you not want to cushion your knees—which are so prone to injury—with a slab of plushy, portable stuff? He can bring it to the garden, for tinkering on house stuff, and praying to the Jazz24 Radio gods.
New sneakers to wear to the beachside grill slash dinner cafe
Is your dad a West Coast boomer dad? Does he donate to the Surfrider Foundation, own a canvas fisherman hat that smells real bad, and bury gold in the yard for “when we go back to the standard?” These are his dress shoes for dinner (to be worn with the crispest of jeans), and like him, they’re perfect.
It’s time he got flowers
Has Boomer Dad ever actually been gifted flowers before? It’s something everyone should experience, and sunflowers are the perfect all-purpose bloom.
Have a bitchin’ Father’s Day.
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