While Dad might appreciate that nice coffee maker he’d been eyeing or those soft sweatpants he’d never think of buying for himself, oftentimes the best gifts aren’t even physical things. It’s the thought that counts, and that’s why this Father’s Day we asked a few creative dads about the favorite nontraditional presents they’ve received over the years.
From a father-son mountain-biking excursion to a nature-filled getaway, these gifts are all about quality time, relaxation, and memories that are sure to last—things that money can’t necessarily buy.
The Made-by-Kids Meal
Our daughters Kaya, 10, and Sierra, 7, love watching Be Our Chef on Disney+ and recently surprised me by preparing a beautiful Sunday breakfast by themselves, which included fresh fruit, Greek yogurt, scrambled eggs, grilled cheese sandwiches, and banana pancakes. They have already promised to spoil me with a repeat for this Father’s Day. —Dexter Peart, cofounder of Goodee
The Weekend Retreat
I experienced my first Father’s Day the same month we had the idea for Haus. As an entrepreneur, I tend to get immersed in my work, and it can be tough to tear me away from it, and that month was no exception. [My wife] Helena knew I could use a break and surprised me with a staycation at the Farmhouse Inn, one of my favorite hotels in Sonoma County. It was the perfect way to reset without taking too much time off the calendar. —Woody Hambrecht, cofounder of Haus
The Active Day
Last year my son suggested we go mountain biking together—he knew I would enjoy it. Two hours in, he regretted it; he was convinced we were lost and weren’t going to find our way back home. —Mark Letain, president of EQ3
The Father-Daughter Recipe
My daughter and I usually bake on weekends: biscuits, cinnamon rolls, or muffins. Pancakes are our go-to, so we’ll probably make those on Father’s Day. We have our own somewhat healthy recipe we’ve tinkered with that adds in some whole wheat flour, honey, cinnamon, and buttermilk we make on the spot. When she was a little younger, she would actually do all the scooping and measuring; now she just wants to “do mixing” and then stick her hands in the flour. The pancakes are honestly pretty good—and now my daughter won’t eat ones made from the box anymore. Sorry, Grandma! —Bryan Mochizuki, creative director of Playa
The Unplanned Mani-Pedi
My daughters and wife created an at-home spa, complete with scented candles and relaxing music. The girls gave me a bathrobe with slippers to wear while they treated me to a massage. I soon fell asleep and woke to find blue painted nails—they had given me a manicure and pedicure, too! —Joseph Schwarzkopf, general manager of Uribe & Schwarzkopf
The Parents-Only Evening
My husband and I recently had an Italian date night, which was my favorite recent gift. We ate my favorite spicy fusilli from Jon & Vinny’s and put on an Italian playlist, and he made me Aperol Spritzes all evening! It was a wonderful way for us to unwind and have a moment together that was a bit different from our normal routine. He knows how much I’ve been missing traveling and Italy specifically, so it was sweet and very appreciated. —Gray Malin, fine art photographer
The Outdoor Escape
My daughters surprised me with an impromptu camping trip to the Angeles National Forest. They chose a spot by a little creek and we stayed for two nights, chopping kindling for the fire and drinking hot beverages in the evening. It was fantastic. —Johann Pauwen, cofounder of Kalon Studios
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