Marshall Brain's Father's Day Gift Guide

The Three Rules
Been grounded lately more than you deserve? Buy this for your dad.
Been grounded lately more than you deserve? Buy this for your dad.

So let's start at the beginning, with the most important rule of buying a Father's Day present. Rule #1 is simple:

1. Never buy your father a tie for Father's Day.

This is an easy-to-follow rule. You might choose to break this rule if you are mad at your father and you want him to know that. Otherwise, there is only one reason that you should ever break this rule, and we will discuss it in a moment.

Rule #2 is as simple as Rule #1:

2. Never buy anything that says, "WORLD'S GREATEST DAD!"

Don't do it. Trust me on this. "World's greatest dad," "world's best dad," "#1 dad," anything like that. Don't even think about it.

By combining rules #1 and #2, you can see that buying your dad a tie that says "World's #1 Dad" would be the thing to do if you're very angry with your father.

Rule #3 seems like it should be the simplest of all:

3. If your father has specifically asked for something, BUY IT!

I do not understand why this rule is so hard to follow. Maybe it has something to do with it seeming too simple. I mean, if your father comes up to you one day and says, "For Father's Day, what I'd like is a new 18-volt model XYZ rechargeable drill," many people seem think to themselves, "Where's the challenge?" All I know is that I have been asking for a kayak for Father's Day for at least five years, and I am currently living a kayak-free lifestyle.

This is what it would look like if I had a kayak.
Has your dad requested a Skil 2867-03 18V Cordless Drill? If so, your problems are solved.
Photo courtesy HowStuffWorks Shopper

In at least half the cases, you do have to pay attention in order to follow Rule #3. Your father may not be the kind of guy who comes right out and says, "Here is exactly what I want." He might be a little more subtle than that. He might be the kind of guy who sits down at the table one day in early June and says in a casual way, "Wow, that drill of mine doesn't work worth a crap anymore." That is probably his way of saying, "I would like to have a new drill for Father's Day." You have to be smart enough to pick up on that.

And, if your father is like that, you now have to go one step further. You have to figure out what kind of drill he wants. You might say something clever like, "Have you been looking at new ones? What kind of drill are you thinking about getting?" And he'll say, "I really like that new Skil 18-Volt Drill/Driver with Stud Finder." Then your job is straightforward and you should follow Rule #3 to the letter. If you are the sort of person whose gut instincts rebel at the simplicity of this approach, I would suggest that you ignore your instincts.

Now, going back to the only other reason you would buy your father a tie (besides the "not liking him" thing). The only reason why you would ever break Rule #1 is because your father invokes Rule #3 and specifically requests a tie.

Let's say that you are willing to follow Rules #1 and #2, but Rule #3 is not helping you because your father is not dropping any hints. In that case, you need to get creative. So let's inspire your imagination.