Shopping for a Millennial Dad: A Holiday Gift Guide

Fatherly.com, one of my favorite fatherhood sites, recently published an article about how dads are notoriously hard to shop for.  In a lot of cases I get why this is true.  Dad has traditionally been the breadwinner in the house and historically a lot of mothers stayed at home to take care of the kids.  So effectively mom and the kids would use money that dad earned to buy him a gift come holiday season. It all feels a little forced and artificial.

man with nice suit working on laptop black and white

On the other hand, if your family is like mine, there are two working parents.  However, I don’t think that makes gift buying for dad any easier either.  I usually just buy whatever I want for myself when I need it. And this happens throughout the year. I obviously don’t spend above my means and don’t put myself into any sort of credit card debt to do this. But it is a bit selfish if you consider my future gift-buyers. Realistically, there aren’t too many luxuries I want that fall into that “don’t want to splurge on it right now so I’ll ask my family for it as a gift and wait 3-4 months” category.

I want what I want right now and nobody’s going to stop me!

I’m not 12 years old and trying save up for an Xbox with my allowance money. So when it’s holiday time, even the most attentive gift-buyer won’t have anything to get for me because I’ve bought it all for myself already.

Even dads love opening presents

But holiday season is coming up and every member of the family should have some presents to open. Even difficult-to-shop-for dad.  Fatherly.com suggested that dads just want to be heard and listened to. That’s sweet and somewhat true, but c’mon, everybody likes gifts.  And you should be listening to your dad regularly anyway.  Not just during holiday season.

Below are 10 gift ideas you can keep in mind when shopping for a millennial dad, especially a picky one. Today’s millennial dad has a wide range of interest which can span clothing, photography, cars, tech, gadgets, etc. so there really is no excuse for not finding at least one suitable gift.

These are gifts that I, a self-diagnosed “difficult to shop for-er” would be genuinely happy to receive. The key is to get an idea for something that dad doesn’t know he wants but would actually love if he got it.  Or try to upgrade something for him. Try to find something he uses regularly and is probably still working fine but could be so much more luxurious if it got swapped out with a premium model. If none of the items below really appeal to dad, you can get some essential baby gear under the guise of it being a gift for dad.

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man standing in front of christmas tree with presents

1. Noise Cancelling Headphones

This is a great gift for the traveling dad. When you spend a lot of time on planes or public transportation, it’s great to just slip on a pair of headphones and block out all the noise around you. If you have a baby that won’t stop crying, you could also put these puppies on while you try and soothe your child. At least you won’t get a face and earful of screams and you can listen to your sweet beats. The two hottest products on the market right now are the Sony WH1000XM3 and the Bose QuietComfort 35 II. Bose has traditionally been the leader in noise cancelling, and it’s the one I personally use, but I’ve heard great things about the Sony ones also. They’re giving Bose a run for their money right now and they come in slightly cheaper too.

2. Luggage Upgrade

This is another one for the traveling dad. Nothing says style while you’re rushing through the airport like a premium piece of luggage. If dad is primarily a day tripper or a gym nut, maybe a simple gym/overnight bag like the Under Armour Undeniable Duffel would be perfect. For the high flying executive that lives on the road, Tumi is the ubiquitous brand for business travellers. I’d recommend the Alpha line with their Alpha 3 4-Wheeled Carry-On which is what I personally use. It’s a great investment because you can get years of use out of it. Tumi products are very well made and very sleek.

3. Fleece Jacket

Depending on where you live, this could be the perfect piece to get you through the cold winter months. If you live in my hometown Toronto though, this could simply be a layering piece. In Hong Kong, a fleece jacket is perfect for the winter where temperatures rarely drop below double digits Celsius but you still need a jacket. I love the look of the Arc’teryx Covert Cardigan and think it’s great for wearing to the office or on weekends.

4. Cashmere Sweater

This is such a versatile piece of clothing that can be worn through the fall and winter seasons. The beauty of this gift is you can never have enough sweaters since you can play around with colours in your wardrobe. And if you’re shopping for your average millennial, it’s likely that he won’t have upgraded to the sweet world of cashmere yet. Cashmere is like some miracle material that is both lighter and warmer than wool. It’s just the most perfect sweater material. The downside is that it’s quite expensive. I don’t think brand matters as long as it’s made of cashmere so this Williams Cashmere Sweater on Amazon is perfect and not too pricey.

5. Smartwatch

Gifts can be a great way to subtly encourage good habits. As I’ve mentioned before, I think staying fit is so important for today’s millennial dad. A well placed gift can help encourage dad to maintain or begin some healthy habits. If you’re gifting for a hardcore athlete, the Garmin Forerunner 935 would be perfect. It’s really a state of the art triathlete’s watch that can pair with your smartphone and comes with a heart rate monitor. You can track your activity with GPS and it works for running, swimming, and cycling. For a more budget friendly option, the Garmin Forerunner 35 is perfect for your beginner runner that’s looking for some tech to build up a good habit.

6. Google Chrome Cast

Living in Hong Kong is amazing. I really don’t think any other city in the world compares. My only complaint is the lack of sports. Coming from Toronto, I really miss watching the Raptors and Leafs. So when my schedule allows and I’m able to catch an early morning game, I want it to be broadcast in HD on my TV. Most TVs have finicky apps that don’t show NBA TV very well and that’s where Google’s Chrome Cast is perfect. You can broadcast your laptop screen onto your TV or other devices in your house as long as they’re all on the same wi-fi network. This makes watching sports in HD very possible in Hong Kong. Works great as a stocking stuffer too.

7. High Tech Mug

I enjoy a nice cup of coffee at home in the morning and on weekends. Most people drink out of your standard ceramic mug and their coffee cools down quickly, especially in the winter. This is a peasants way of drinking coffee. To upgrade your dad from peasant to a king, try the Ember Intelligent Mug. This mug keeps your drink warm at the exact temperature you set! Works great as a stocking stuffer also.

8. Neck Massager

With all the stresses of parenthood, it’s no surprise that some dads suffer from stiff and painful neck muscles. The Naipo Shiatsu Back and Neck Massager provides an at home solution for dad to work out the knots in his neck. This is one of those sneaky gifts that’s given to dad, but then anyone in the house can use it! Almost like gifting yourself. Genius.

9. Gimbal

As a new dad, one of your major responsibilities is to capture all the important moments for your family. It’s no one else’s fault but yours if you don’t get your kids first steps, laugh, roll, trip to Disneyland etc. on video or film. Family members, if you’re reading this, get dad a 3-Axis Gimbal Stabilizer for iPhone by hohem so he can take some great photos or videos of your family in action. Gimbals are great for stabilising shots so people don’t get nauseous when watching your home videos. This one comes with buttons on the handle so you can control your phone with just one hand. Perfect for family vacations or just weekends around town when you want to capture all of your kid’s antics.

10. Drone

I’ve always thought drones are very very cool. You can get some epic vacation shots like some of the best Youtubers out there. They’ve always been prohibitively expensive though. Luckily for both the pro and amateur videographers out there, there is a drone for any budget and expertise. On the beginner side, try the Holy Stone HS110D FPV RC Drone. It’s good to just play around with and get a feel for what a drone can do. When you’ve become an expert and aren’t worried about crashing, you can upgrade to something like the DJI Spark.

Now I just hope my family sees this post because it’s secretly my wish list too…

5 comments

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  3. I’m an expectant mum and came across your website. Ended up buying item #8 for myself (not the husband ;p). And I gotta say it’s a godsend for a pregnant lady in third trimester!!! Thanks millennialdadhk!

    1. Hi Buell! Thanks for the positive feedback. I also really enjoy using #8, really works out the knots in my lower back and neck. Have a fantastic holiday break and hope you have a smooth rest of pregnancy and an athletic son/daughter.

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