I’ve been a skillful sailor, mastering tempestuous seas in my ship as I escape from seething pirates. I’ve explored the corners of the American frontier on horseback. I’ve been a knight, a professional athlete, and an astronaut. I’ve been things without a name, talked with people that haven’t lived, and visited places that don’t exist. All this was made possible because of my dad.

As a child, my father would spin for my siblings and me the most colorful stories. He would make them up on the spot, which is probably why they were so creative; he was thinking of the first thing that came into his head. He was a master storyteller and still very much is. His children have grown up, some marrying, and a few have little ones of their own. While we no longer huddle around in our pajamas at bedtime to hear his stories, it’s not uncommon for him to have his adult children on the edge of their seats at Sunday dinner, almost begging him to finish his story because he has held us all in suspense for so long. The man loves an audience, but it wasn’t always just about the stories for him. It was about being present with his family. It was a way to connect.

During points in my childhood, my dad would have to travel quite a bit for work. It was hard on us kids, and now that I’m a husband and father myself, I recognize how difficult it must’ve been for my angel mother to lovingly care for five children by herself while he was away. Sometimes he would only have to be gone for a few days, but on other occasions, it was weeks. It was always a joy when he came home!

He loved to gather us around, requiring us to close our eyes tightly and hold our hands out, palms up. He would then place a gift from his travels in our hands, usually a tiny trinket or treat from his destination, as he told us stories from his trip. I’m incredibly grateful for how involved he was when he was home. He would walk in the door and immediately jump back into fatherhood. Whether it was story time before we fell asleep, taking us to our various extracurricular activities, or helping me with my science fair project that was due the next day that I “forgot” to tell my parents about. For him, it was all about being present and reconnecting with his family.

As we observe Father’s Day this month, my siblings and I are wrestling with the same question we do every this time every year, “what do we get our dad for Father’s Day?” We never know what to get him. Working at Heirloom Art Co., a place where we pride ourselves on gift-giving, has proven to me that this is a dilemma that so many others face. I can’t put a number to the times I have been working in the shop when a frazzled customer comes in and asks the same questions my siblings and I ask whenever it comes time to celebrate my dad. Our recommendation is to give the man in your life an experience, something he will remember.

If he is rugged or more of an outdoorsy type, you could have a night out with him in nature. Go for a hike or take him fishing. If fishing happens to be an interest of his, you may want to consider reading our Father’s Day article from last year to gain inspiration. You might choose to gather around a campfire. Our Magic Rainbow Fire Sticks are perfect for this. All you have to do is add the sticks to your fire and watch the flames dance in a rainbow of colors. It’s nature’s television. You could also consider a book about the outdoors. We love the copies from the Wilderness Writing Series or the book How to Stay Alive in the Woods


If the outdoors isn’t his hobby, you could plan a cozy night indoors. Delicious treats are a must. Play a game together or watch your family’s favorite movie. Make him some tea, give him a pair of nice slippers, or let him wrap himself under a soft Scottish Wool Throw to make him feel extra special.

If he has kids or grandkids, you can provide him with a carefully selected item that enhances their time together. We’ve found learning a new lawn game or reading to your kids are quality, worthwhile activities. Not only is reading to children a great way to bond but, “research has found that young children whose parents read to them daily have been exposed to at least 290,000 more words by the time they enter kindergarten than kids who aren’t read to regularly.” Reading a fanciful copy of Harry Potter or The Hobbit have become literary staples at Heirloom Art Co.

While giving the gift of an experience isn’t a new concept for many of you, we often get caught up thinking the experience has to be something grand, like tickets to an event or a trip. Think back to what your dad has done in the past to get closer to you. For me, it might have something to do with storytelling. For you, it might be something completely different. It’s not so much about providing an experience for your dad as it is about providing the opportunity for connection.

 Discover more gift ideas in our Father's Day collection.

August 18, 2023 — Tyler Johanson

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