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COMMENTARY

Forget the tie: These Father's Day gift ideas are better

Fathers are notoriously hard to shop for. That's why so many of them wind up with ties and gift cards on Father's Day.

If you'd like to be your father's favorite child, like I am, you'll want to get something a little more personal, something that shows you've been paying attention to the unique and handsome individual he is.

Or, you know, just follow my instructions. I've got your back.

For the nostalgic. If your dad likes to reminisce about the old days, you're lucky. It opens up a world of possibilities. Depending on what gives him the warm fuzzies, you can buy vintage stuff from whatever era he's pining for. Maybe it's old comic books, fuzzy hot rod dice, old G.I. Joe figures. Whatever it is, he'll be transported to the best times of his life and love you for it.

If he hasn't mentioned specific toys or lost items (and he has, it just depends how closely you were listening), there are a few ways to find out what he might like. You can go through old photo albums and hope to find a Christmas morning picture with toys in full view. You can ask a sibling what he cherished back in the day. Or you can Google the top toys from when he was 10 years old and cross your fingers. Then go digging. If there's one thing Western New York has a ton of, it's antique and second-hand stores.

For the gardener. If your dad likes to play in the dirt, Garden Genie gloves are the way to go. They're waterproof gardening gloves with plastic claws on the fingertips and they're life changing. My husband got me a pair for Christmas and I just used them for spring planting. They make everything so much easier. Your hands stay dry, your fingernails stay clean, and I didn't have to use a hand trowel once. They run about $8.

For the Luddite. Does your dad complain that the digital age is too impersonal? Is he sad that no one writes letters anymore? Well, my first and best advice would be to write him a dang letter already: a heartfelt one where you say everything you will wish you had said once he passes away.

After you do that, you might look into something called Letterjoy. It delivers reproductions of historical letters every week on cotton paper or parchment, written by such greats as Abraham Lincoln, Albert Einstein and Clara Barton. It also comes with background context to bring the letter to life.

The first letter typically goes out 10 days after you sign up, so that gives you time to write your own personal letter for Father's Day, with a post script about his forthcoming subscription. It's pricey, $49.99 for three months (about $4 a week), so maybe just stick with the heartfelt personal letter thing, which is free.

For the traveler. One year, I got my father-in-law cuff links bearing coins from Yugoslavia, where he was a Fulbright scholar. He said it was one of his favorite gifts ever. You can get cuff links and tie tacks with coins from almost anywhere (and ones with Buffalo nickels). You can choose a country that he has visited or the country from which he emigrated. It will be a great conversation starter, giving him the opportunity to talk about something meaningful to him.

You can get them on Etsy starting at $4.99 (reaching upward of a thousand) and have them shipped within one to two days.

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