This is guest post by my friend Pete Stewart. I’ll let Pete take over!
Buying Christmas presents for parents is a tricky challenge. Mostly, they don’t really need anything and even if they do, they probably won’t let on.
Dad is especially difficult. The sort of gifts that department stores come up with are usually tacky, and if they are not, they are generic diversions rather than proper gifts. We have put together seven gift ideas to get your creative juices flowing. When you have exhausted socks, mini bottles of whiskey with three golf tees and a ball, and the cheesy tie decorated with Santa/Bambi/Skippy these ideas could offer to you the answer to that impenetrable question: What to get for Dad?
Number One – Track Day Experience
They might not admit it, but most dads would like to change the family Honda Civic for a chance to speed around a track in a Ferrari, Porsche or similar performance car. Packages can be purchased from individual tracks, but a good place to start is with Red Letter days. They offer a currently discounted three-hour experience.
This included a briefing, passenger laps (some locations only), locations around the UK and the chance to drive for fifteen miles in three different supercars around the track.
The gift will cost £139 (reduced from £239) plus optional collision damage waiver of between £20 and £40.
A great chance for some serious speed in a safe environment.
Number Two – Handwarmer Set
They might not moan about it, although being dads they probably do, but as middle age approaches aches and pains begin to surface. One of the most niggling are pains in the hands and fingers, and these are often worse in cold and damp weather. Carpal Tunnel syndrome (characterised by the index finger going white), arthritis and general aches and pains can all be eased with a handwarmer.
Cotswolds Outdoors sell this Hot Rox handwarmer for £24 – check out their website on www.cotswoldoutdoor.com
Number Three – A Special Eau De Cologne
We don’t mean a Marks and Spencer’s gift set, as good as they might be. No, here we are talking about something that will appeal to Dad’s traditional side, and also offer a touch of luxury.
It is hard to beat Penhaligon’s if that looks like a good gift for father. The traditional company, established for getting on for 150 years, has its base in Covent Garden. But its website offers lots of choices, from shaving sets to bath and shower gel and on to the Eau De Cologne, which is what we recommend.
All Penhaligon products ooze class; subtle yet sumptuous, and No 33 would be the pick we recommend. Penhaligon also does perfumery for women, and will even set some questions you can answer and direct you towards its recommendations for your dad.
Expect to pay in the region of £70 for a bottle, but they will post it for free and even gift wrap at that price. Worth every penny.
Number Four – Match Day ticket
Getting to top sports fixtures is ever more tricky these days. Unless you are a season ticket holder, the main football teams are hard to get into as they sell out before tickets go on general sale. But there is more than just football. How about Wimbledon? Motor Racing? A day at the horse track? Lords? You know your dad’s sporting loves.
Why not get two tickets and go with him. That more than doubles the pleasure, and gives a chance for a good chat at a shared event.
Tickets at Haydock Park, in the North West, for example, start at just £10, although main stands are costlier. For £96 a good ticket and a hearty lunch package are available.
If you really are able to splash out, at £450 per ticket you get a private dining experience and premium ticket at The Emirates to see Arsenal. Lesser clubs also offer this opportunity.
Number Five – A bottle of the best
There is not a lot to beat a glass of a top-quality whisky. How about a bottle of single malt? It is a rare treat for many. Whisky should be drunk neat, or with the tiniest drop of water (some say this brings out the flavour even more). A bottle of smoky Laphroaig (quite an acquired taste) is available in most good off-licences and larger supermarkets for around £35, while the gentler taste of Talisker is only a little more.
Make sure, though, that it is a single malt if you want the best taste.
Number Six – A Great Book Package
As you will have seen, the theme that is coming through with most of these gifts is that they are something a little special, that Dad would not normally experience.
You know his interests. But we have two suggestions here which could inspire some others, and they each take a theme and explore it in a multi-tracked way.
So, if Dad is a football nut, what about a copy of Jonathan Wilson‘s excellent book ‘Nobody Ever Says Thank You’ (£12.99), a copy of the DVD of ‘The Damned United (around £4.00) and a trip to the National Football Museum in Manchester to learn about Clough in the Hall of Fame?
Or, if history is more of an interest, then Andrew Hodges: ‘The Enigma’, about Alan Turing (£7.72 from Amazon), a copy of ‘The Imitation Game’ starring Benedict Cumberbatch (£5) and a trip to the excellent Bletchley Park Museum in Bletchley, near Milton Keynes (£17.75), which will easily fill a day. www.bletchleypark.org.uk
Number Seven – Something that Might Save A Life
A little left field this one. Prostate Cancer UK worked very hard to get footballers involved in this important cause, from which many men will eventually suffer. Many readers will have seen managers and pundits wearing the elegant silver stick man on their lapels.
How about promoting this great cause, awareness of which can only be good for all male members of your family, but buying some of their merchandise as a Christmas gift?
Go to www.prostatecanceruk.org and visit their shop. The little stick men badges are just £1, but there is a whole range of goods from T shirts to kit colours all as a part of their Men Utd campaign.