Father and daughter

How to make Father's Day special

To make Father's Day truly special for the dad in your life, think about what makes him special to you. All mothers are different, certainly, but as our parenting culture changes, it's really fathers who are shifting roles and forging new parenting paths. If your husband or father is a stay-at-home parent who spends his days doing laundry and kissing boo-boos, that is just as valid a contribution as the dad taking a traditional role, providing and manning the barbecue grill, it's just a little newer. Whichever way the dad in your life expresses his love for his family, celebrate that! In showing him that you see the special things he does for you, whether that is paying the mortgage or sewing on buttons, you can make his Father's Day special.

Play to his parenting style.

For a dad who spends time with his family by sharing his passions with them, consider a celebration or a Father's Day gift that enhances that activity. A gift basket of gardening tools and an afternoon to weed and plant with the little ones shows that you appreciate what he does for the lawn and garden as well as how he shares his knowledge and time with the children in the family. This is a single example; making Father's Day special by celebrating his parenting style could include any gift or activity. Is the dad in your life passionate about reading to his children, or teaching them to ice skate or fish? Honor that in him. My own father was extremely focused on our cultural education, for instance, so an ideal Father's Day for him would be brunch at the club our family belonged to and then going to the art museum or attending a showing of vintage travelogue films. It sounds odd, but it showed the appreciation we kids had for his constant attention to expanding our horizons and understanding of the world. Embrace your dad or husband's parenting style to make his Father's Day special.

Let Dad lead the way.

Consider what Dad really wants. You could arrange a golf outing or a brewery tour if that's his "thing," or a different kind of guy might like a spa day or a private yoga class. Maybe all he wants is a whole day in the backyard hammock with no interruptions. Whether he is a very involved, hands-on father or the kind who takes care of his family by working long, hard hours with little time for himself, he may feel celebrated if you give him an indulgent day for himself. Certainly, we understand that mothers who parent selflessly sometimes need a day to relax and recharge—perhaps Dad does too! You can make Father's Day special by following his lead and making time and space for him to do what he really wants to do for the whole day.

Leave it to the children.

If you still have young children at home, ask them how they want to show their dad how much they love him. Kids come up with fun, creative and unexpected ideas for celebrating their loved ones that grown-ups simply never consider. You can advise them gently (or exercise veto power if you have to), but only a child will come up with a family trip to laser tag or an all-you-can-eat pizza buffet for a Father's Day celebration. It may feel silly or odd, but handing the children the reins and seeing what they think their dad would love, or how they would like the family to honor all he does for them, may be the touching celebration that would make Father's Day the most personal and special to the whole family.

Celebrating the empty-nest Dad.

Empty-nest fathers probably want to share a meal with nearby adult children or a phone call with those outside of easy reach. At the same time, you, as his partner, may want to celebrate all the ways he helped make your grown children the delightful adults they are today. Did he teach them to cook? Or play baseball? Or to be excellent, loving fathers themselves? Those are beautiful things he did for your children, and it is never too late to thank your spouse for that, and to celebrate that together as a couple. Take the father you love out for a very special meal, or make his favorite at home. Present him with a previously-taken portrait of your grown children, or have a favorite photo from their childhood made into a canvas print or even a painting. You can pay tribute to how he helped enrich the world with wonderful people in an intimate, meaningful way. Take him to the place you met and thank him for taking the journey of parenting with you. Empty-nest dads deserve to reflect on their fatherhood and have a special Father's Day, too.

Making Father's Day special.

With a bit of planning and forethought, you can make even a simple Father's Day celebration exactly the kind of event or activity that will give the dad in your life the special, memorable Father's Day he will truly love and carry with him for a lifetime.

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