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Daddy’s little gift bag

Good luck figuring out what to put in it.


FUN FOR DAD: But not for the chicken, whose business end rests on the cone of this chicken roaster from Williams-Sonoma.
  • FUN FOR DAD: But not for the chicken, whose business end rests on the cone of this chicken roaster from Williams-Sonoma.

Here's the thing about shopping for men: You are on your own.

OK, maybe not entirely. I asked my husband for some random stuff-guys-like suggestions for Father's Day gifts I could write about.

“An iPhone,” he said. “If you got me an iPhone, I'd do all the chores for a month.”

For the price of an iPhone we could hire daily maid service for twice that long, but you know, whatever.

Then I asked my 10-month-old son the same question.

“Ba,” he said. Which may or may not mean “ball,” and at any rate is really too vague to be of much help. Golf? Bocce? Debutante?

 I suppose it's a fortunate thing, then, that helpful salespeople erect handy displays every year full of possibilities for Father's Day. (SURE your dad needs a sun visor CD holder! Really, he told us.) Here's a few possibilities they've laid out this year, plus a couple I turned up all by myself:

If he's into grilling, Williams-Sonoma has a couple of fun barbecue toys for a reasonable price. There's a hamburger press — a two-part contraption that lets you smush out multiple patties of the same size and weight ($27). But for the more adventurous, take a look at the chicken roaster ($30), part bundt cake pan with holes in it, part medieval torture device. There's a cylinder in the middle that goes up the chicken's caboose to keep it upright.

For the eco-conscious or outdoorsy dad, try an aluminum water bottle. They're amazingly light, and come free from the worries about plastic's environmental impacts and/or health hazards. I've seen two models around town: Ozark Outdoor Supply has the well-known Sigg brand in red and blue ($22), and Pottery Barn has two styles — one with multicolored stripes and one with the words “Do Your Part” ($10).

Another idea from Ozark Outdoor: The Gorilla Pod ($25), a miniature camera tripod made with bendy legs so it can be set up level on uneven surfaces.

OK, so my husband did come up with one fairly useful suggestion: A nice pocketknife. Not your garden-variety red Swiss Army, but something with a pretty polished-stone handle, maybe. He says look for them at some jewelry stores or upscale outdoor stores — I didn't have time to, but good luck. My husband uses his all the time.

For the dad who's reached that point where his arms aren't long enough but he's not ready to surrender to reading glasses, WordsWorth Books has a cheap workaround: A flat, wallet-sized plastic magnifier he can pull out along with the credit card when it's time to pay the dinner tab ($3.25).

Also at WordsWorth: For the new dad, “The Little Big Book for Dads” ($24) is a compilation of all those nursery rhymes and fairy tales and kiddie songs you vaguely remember from childhood but couldn't get all the way through these days without help, plus dad-and-kid-friendly recipes, and entries on identifying common bugs, birds and trees. If your kids have reached the why-why-why stage, try “Father Knows Less: One Dad's Quest to Answer his Son's Most Baffling Questions” ($14). (“Is hummus like dinosaur poop? Why do policemen like doughnuts? Why does the chef wear that big white hat? Can I cook my sister?”)

None of these sound good? You're on your own, then. I'm on to other things:

The Kitchen Co., as the reformed, relocated Sauce Co. is now called, has opened at Pleasant Ridge Town Center next to Frontiers. I tried to stop by on what was supposed to be opening day, but there was some kind of permit issue, and they hadn't yet started letting folks in.

Big fat bargain alert: Just in time for Father's Day, the original gadget store, the Sharper Image, announced it's closing all its stores. All merchandise is up to 40 percent off, and there's plenty to please just about any guy. Definitely worth a stop (the store is on Chenal Parkway near Markham, in the same shopping center as Staples).

Big fat bargain alert II: If you've got a wedding or party or some other new-frock-worthy event coming up, J.C. Penney is THE place to go right now to look for a fun dress. Yes, I know what I'm saying: If your snob-o-meter is spiking, get it under control. There are racks and racks of bright, cute cotton print sundresses, various styles, colors, lengths and sizes (including petites and women's), and a lot of them marked down to $16 or so. If you held on to one of those $10 off coupons that came in the mail a couple of weeks ago, you can take one home for the price of a gallon and a half of gas. I've only got one place to wear one this summer, but I bought two anyway, because what the hell else are you supposed to do when they're that much of a steal?


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