3 Father’s Day Gift Ideas Dads Really Want

Is it hard to shop for Dad?

Are your kids looking for the perfect thing for Father’s Day?

It might not be a thing at all, but rather something fun to do together.

In this article I’ll share our favorite ideas for simple, fun activities to do with Dad on Father’s Day.

Need Father's Day gift ideas? The best gift may not be a gift at all, but a fun activity Dad can do with the kids. Read this article for many fun suggestions.

Why an Activity as a Father’s Day Gift?

Stop shopping for the “perfect” Father’s Day gift! We asked around, clarified and researched to discover an amazing fact: Most dads don’t want a tie (or cologne, or any article of clothing) for Father’s Day. That’s no surprise.

But what do they want? Most dads want to do something as a family (and a day off from the “honey-do” list) on their special day. They want quality time with the family, planned and organized by Mom and the kids!

So give Dad what he wants—a fun family activity. You’re sure to find something he’ll love to do in the suggestions below.

Here’s what one of the fathers we surveyed said, which pretty much sums it up:

“I want nothing more than time with my kids to wrestle, snuggle and play. It doesn’t matter to me what it is we’re doing… My greatest gift in this life is time with my family. Maybe a nature hike with my family would be a fun gift, too.”

So don’t spend hours combing the mall for a gift. Give Dad the greatest Father’s Day gift of all—time to hang out and have fun with his kids. Whether you choose a fishing trip, an outing to the movies or a nature hike, like the father above suggested, turn something Dad likes to do into a fun and relaxing day with the family.

Here are some of our favorite family-bonding Father’s Day gift ideas:

#1: Outdoor Adventures

It’s the perfect time of year to go outside and enjoy nature, especially if Dad loves the great outdoors.

taking pictures outdoors

What could be more fun than spending time with Dad outdoors?

Does your family head out on adventures all the time? Do you go to the park or hit the beach on a regular basis? Add something new and unexpected this time and go on a photo scavenger hunt, make sand castles or check out these four games perfect for shallow water. It’ll make your Father’s Day outing extra special.

Even if you’re not a fan of the great outdoors, why not be a good sport and plan an adventure around Dad’s favorite outdoor activity? Go on a family hike, bike ride or fishing trip.

campfire cone

Does Dad love camping? Take him on a camping trip and try something different–like something new to cook over the campfire.

If Dad loves camping, check out these 33 Creative Camping DIY Projects and Clever Ideas put together by the DIY team on the DIY and Crafts blog. These will make any camping experience more comfortable and enjoyable.

Want to try something new as a family for Father’s Day? Why not go on a geocaching adventure? For experienced geocachers, here’s how to start hiding your own geocache.

Or take Dad to explore those local tourist attractions that you never seem to make time to visit!

Wherever you go, be sure to pack a picnic to enjoy with Dad.

spontaneous picnic collage

Having a spontaneous picnic is a great way to spend time with the family.

This is just the tip of the outdoor iceberg.

Check online to find outdoor adventures in your area. There are probably some cool places you don’t even know about right in your neighborhood.

#2: Fun at Home

Plan a fun adventure for Dad in your own backyard. There’s plenty of fun you can have right at home.

25 backyard activities

Lots of fun things you can do to get started on your adventure with Dad.

Play flag tag or one of these cool games made with pool noodles.

Go big for Big Daddy. Kari Sweeten at the U Create blog compiled 7 Outdoor Life-Sized Games, which include Outdoor Twister by Sassy Style, Backyard Bananagrams from Constantly Lovestruck and Giant Jenga by Instructables.

life sized bananagram game

This looks like a fun way to spend an afternoon with the family anytime.

Create one of these giant games with Dad and play it together.

Large or small, games are fun for the whole family—and once you have them, you can play anytime.

Want another out-of-the-box Father’s Day gift idea? Make a personalized scavenger hunt or treasure hunt for Dad. He’ll have lots of fun searching for clues along with the kids.

To make it extra-special, put small treats along with each clue for everyone to enjoy. You can even create a personalized gift basket for Dad to find at the end of the hunt.

scavenger hunt ideas collage

Scavenger hunts are an easy way to add fun to Father’s Day.

Create an adventure in your home to maximize your time together. Since there is no travel time, you can get started on your adventure right away.

Plus, it will give Dad a little extra time to chill out with a Father’s Day nap or some time to watch sports—other things he loves to do on “his” day!

#3: Family Projects

Work on a family project with Dad on Father’s Day. Talk about a perfect gift! Choose the project, wrap up the materials, place a bow on top and have a blast building it together. And then you get to play with it!

Create some cool contraptions with Dad like a pop bottle rocket launcher or this catapult from Sarah at Frugal Fun 4 Boys. This catapult is perfect because all of the supplies are easy to find.

splash bomb catapult

Building this catapult doesn’t require special tools!

Here’s another project to do with Dad that’s as much fun to make as it is to play with afterwards: This mini marshmallow shooter from Amy at the Idea Room has visual and written instructions, which is great if you want to pick supplies up from the hardware store beforehand.

For a larger marshmallow shooter, check out Jon’s post on Dad is Learning.

marshmallow shooter supplies

All the parts you need to make your cool marshmallow shooter.

Note: You can spray-paint your marshmallow shooters different colors, one color for each person in the family. Build it inside then take it outside for more family fun!

If Dad’s really ambitious, build something big, like a fort! This is an ambitious project, so make sure Dad has the time and wherewithal to build it with the family. Otherwise, it won’t be much of a gift!

There are all kinds of forts—from super-simple to very elaborate in this article on 50 kids’ forts ideas from Kailoa and Sylvia on Built by Kids. If Dad’s been talking about making a fort, Father’s Day is the perfect time to get it started!

activity projects

Dads love it when everyone participates in a fun project as a family.

Whether you have a hands-on Dad or hands-on kids—or both—a project is the perfect way to spend the day. This was just a sample of things you can do to get your imagination going.

Whatever you decide to do for Father’s Day, get the supplies and do your prep beforehand. If all the work’s done in advance, you’ll be ready on Sunday to make it Dad’s perfect Father’s Day.

Some Final Thoughts

We found that for the most part, dads want the same things for Father’s Day as moms want for Mother’s Day: They’d like to spend time with their kids (and maybe spend a little bonus me-time afterwards). One difference was that dads would prefer a family BBQ to moms’ favorite, breakfast in bed.

So choose something from this list and plan some fun activities to do with Dad. Then fire up the grill and talk about the Father’s Day adventures you shared.

Have a great Father’s Day!

What do you think? What are you planning to do for Father’s Day? Are you making a gift? Planning an adventure? We’d love to hear your Father’s Day gift ideas or see your pictures to help others get inspired, too!

Images from iStockPhoto.

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About the Author, KJ Ammerman

Kristin Ammerman is a mom, creative writer and the evangelist of fun for My Kids' Adventures. Her three kids love that their mom's job includes trying out new family activities. Other posts by »


  1. Thanks KJ! So many great ideas to choose from. I’m going to show this to my kids and have them pick their favorites for Father’s Day.

  2. KJ Ammerman says:

    I’m sure your boys will pick out the perfect activity for their dad. If they’re half as creative as their mom, it’s going to be an adventurous day!!

  3. Candis Marko says:

    Great ideas! My husband also appreciates that time together. We used to go for a family hike every Father’s Day, but that has morphed into breakfast or lunch out and then just a day of playing catch and other outdoor activities. I love these suggestions and will definitely run a few by my husband in case any pique his interest. Perhaps another family hike will be in order this year! :)

  4. Heide Estrada says:

    KJ, as always, this article is full of wonderful and creative ideas. Thanks so much for inspiring us and reminding us that Father’s Day can be a simple and very fun adventure!

  5. Crystal Foth says:

    Great article KJ! Thank you for so many great ideas. Good to remember it’s not about “things” but about spending time together. Time is one “thing” we never seem to have enough of! :)

  6. KJ Ammerman says:

    Thank you for sharing what you do for Father’s Day! Playing sports in the backyard is fantastic! We appreciate getting other ideas. I couldn’t believe how many people told me their husbands like to do an outdoor activity as a family. You’re in good company :)

  7. KJ Ammerman says:

    Thank you for saying “hi”, Heide! You’re right, Father’s Day can be simple and fun. Why do I always make things harder than they need to be? ha ha! Not this year! 😉

  8. KJ Ammerman says:

    Wow, I couldn’t have put it better myself! Why didn’t I use those lines somewhere in my article?! LOL! Time is a limited resource; spend it wisely, right? Thank you, Crystal!

  9. Crystal Foth says:

    I totally agree – spend it wisely and it can only be spent once! So choices are important :)

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