As our fathers get older, it gets tougher to find special gifts come Christmastime.
They tend to get things when they need them, leaving many children and wives with nothing left to buy come holiday season.
Here we’ve focused on five types of dads, and visited local stores to get their take on finding that right gift for pop.
For the punctual dad:
If dad has a tendency to run on the late side, a good gift might be a watch. But if he has a predilection to time-keeping, then something from his year of birth might be the best pick, says diamond and watch consultant Alanna Van Rijk at Van Rijk Jewellers, right at Yonge and Eglinton.
“Men now really like the vintage watches,” she says.
Keep in mind though, different generations prefer different designs.
“Younger men tend to like the bigger faces, but a lot of the older people like something classic, timeless,” she says. “They’ll stick with a smaller face, like a Rolex or Patek Philippe.”
For the bookish dad:
Sleuthing for a good thriller or mystery novel?
Wind your way down Millwood Road in Leaside to find the Sleuth of Baker Street.
Co-proprietor J.D. Singh offers his wisdom on whodunits. But don’t expect him to spill the beans on all things noir.
“The problem with that is I’m giving away all of my secrets,” he says, a wry grin playing at the corners of his mouth.
Press him further and he’ll offer up some good Canadian writers, like Brad Smith.
“If I can’t get a sense of what someone is after, either because they’re buying for someone else, typically a gift, or there’s those people who can’t remember what they read yesterday, just give me something,” Singh says.
“Brad Smith, in particular Red Means Run, is a novel I’ve put in many people’s hands, and by and large people come back and ask, ‘Is there a second and a third book?’ ”
For the comic-al dad:
Paradise Comics owner Doug Simpson sits in his Lawrence Park basement office, filled to the rafters with boxes of back issues, and offers a variety of suggestions for the dad who refuses to let go of his imagination.
“The easiest way for dads now is graphic novels — that’s your best bet,” he says. “There are probably 10 or 12 books that tie into the movies now.”
If you’re looking for something different, pick up some crime noir tales, like Criminal or the phantasmagorical Fatale, which features some H.P. Lovecraft references. There’s also the Todd McFarlane line of sports statuettes, both present (Patrick Kane and Sidney Crosby) and classics like Jacques Plante or Steve Yzerman.
But the hot ticket items are personal little nuggets:
“We get a lot of people coming in not buying the new stuff, but it’s, ‘My dad read the Avengers back in the ’70s. He remembers issue 116. Do you have an issue 116 so I can give it back to him,’ ” Simpson says.
His suggestion: Detective Comics #37, the last appearance of Batman, sans Robin.
For the outdoor dad:
It’s worth the hike to Higher Ground. The outdoor lifestyle shop, situated in North Toronto since 1987, offers a line of clothing no other retailer in Toronto provides: Rodd and Gunn.
“Their pants are super soft — even after the wash they’re even softer,” store owner Kevin Roher says.
Sure there are plenty of wives coming in to seek out apparel for their husbands, but Roher assures it’s the casual Fridays crowd that will get in touch with their natural side here.
“We cater to the guy who is casual Fridays — wearing a suit from Monday to Thursday and Friday he’s super casual — and he can’t wait to get out of his suit, leave his tie at home,” Roher says, pointing to other clothing lines like Woolrich, Royal Robbins and Kuhl as ideal candidates for the woodsman in your dad.
For the signature dad:
Even in a digital world, there is still the need for a John Hancock every once in a while.
So why not mix a little accessorizing with a little practicality?
That’s the question Peter Laywine of Laywine’s Pens and Organizers answers in his Yorkville shop.
“The idea is that pens are functional,” he says. “My feeling is, to have a product that is both functional and beautiful so that it’s something when you’re using it, it’s a tool, but if you’re not it’s a piece of jewellery sitting in your pocket.”
Laywine admits a lot of the pen stores have disappeared, including midtown’s Essence du Papier, but there’s still a desire for fountain pens.
“If you want something that’s cheap and cheerful, that’s great, and if you don’t you can spend as much money as you want,” he says. “I’ve got fountain pens that are $5 and I’ve got pens at $5,000 — and pretty much everything in the middle.”