Finding the best gifts for dad during the holidays can be a challenge. Even more so if you’re in the position of needing a last-minute gift.
Lucky for you, reader, I am a dad and therefore have the inside scoop. These are the gifts I want. (Please, someone tell my kids.) These are also the gifts I want to give to other dads. With these 11 selections, I’ve covered the gamut: There’s an utterly practical mess-proof frying plan attachment and then there’s the standard electronics every dad needs including headphones, a tablet, a sound bar and a TV. There is no reason you shouldn’t be able to procure a great gift, or use this list as the jumping off point for a great gift idea.
We also have soap, shampoo and other personal items. There’s a cooler and a coffee mug. And then there’s gaming gear. And a drone (how cool are drones?!). These are the tools of fatherhood. Check out my picks below.
Inexpensive, easy to use and nifty — those are all things dads like, and all qualities the Frywall brings to the table. Whether it’s bacon and hash browns or fried chicken and collards, this handy little tool — a BPA-free silicone cone that fits directly into your pan — helps minimize the mess. A top choice for smart dads who want breakfast, but don’t want to clean up a mess.
Dollar Shave Club
I was skeptical of Dollar Shave Club at first — I already have too many subscriptions. But the blades are truly great, and I have come to appreciate a number of the company’s other products and gift sets, which have helped me up my shaving game. And it’s not just me: My 7-year old son loves the company’s Wanderer brand shampoo and soap.
It’s cool-looking, tough as nails and big — with a nearly 63-quart capacity. In CNET’s recent roundup of best coolers, we found that the Lifetime High Performance Cooler was particularly well-designed. It’s also a perfect gift for dad, who will appreciate the dual-locking lid latches, roped handles and built-in bottle opener. And you can buy it for $100 from Lifetime (though it’s currently back-ordered).
Read our review of the Lifetime High Performance Cooler.
One can never buy the Ember mug for oneself — it must be received as a gift. At $120, it’s simply too expensive to buy for yourself or anyone except especially dear relatives (I’m talking about your dad). The porcelain Ember Mug will keep his coffee at the perfect temperature — technically, 130 degrees, though that’s adjustable via the iOS- and Android-compatible app — for a little more than an hour. It doesn’t sound like much, but, trust me: It’s life-changing. Just be sure to warn your pops that it isn’t dishwasher safe!
Read our take on the Ember Mug.
If your dad likes to play video games, he will freak, in a good way, when you give him the Switch Lite. It’s perfect for handheld gaming and comes with everything one needs to access Nintendo’s immense and celebrated library of games. It has a battery life of three to seven hours and it’s $100 cheaper than the full-sized Switch. Now he’ll always have a fun game right in arm’s reach!
Read our Switch Lite review.
Sure, Plantronics doesn’t have the same cache as Beats or Bose — but the BackBeat Pro 2 are excellent wireless noise-cancelling headphones that cost considerably less than comparable models from those other companies and are a huge step up from those earbuds Dad’s been using for way too long. They’re really comfortable to wear, sounds great on phone calls and are smart enough to pause whatever you’re listening to when you take them off. So yeah, a perfect gift. The more brand-conscious dad may prefer the Beats Studio Wireless, Bose QuietComfort 35 II, Bose 700 or Sony WH-1000XM3.
Read our Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 review.
Sonos via Amazon
The Sonos Beam looks good, sounds big and integrates more easily with other A/V equipment than any other sound bar. It offers not only the most flexible music system available but has Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa built in, giving Dad options. And adding a pair of $100 Ikea Symphonisk bookshelves will really tie the home theater experience together and create a man cave that your pops will be proud of. All he’ll need is a cold drink.
Read our Sonos Beam review.
When your dad was little, he dreamed of having an arcade in his home. You can make his dream come true for $500. This Star Wars arcade game is one of the pricier options — there are plenty of others that cost less than $300 — but it’s also, arguably, the coolest of them all.
Does your pops read the newspaper on his phone? Not cool. Modern dads need a bigger screen to see their news, to read an e-book and play around with the latest and greatest apps.
Fortunately, Apple released a new version of its flagship iPad in September, increasing the display size to 10.2 inches, adding a dock connector and — well, that was about it. Otherwise, it’s virtually identical to the 9.7-inch iPad Apple introduced in 2018, which remains the best deal in the lineup when it’s on sale. And it is — at Walmart’s Early Access sale, where the 128GB version costs just $299.
Read our Apple iPad 2018 (9.7-inch) review.
The best gifts for dad have good value — and this TV offers the best bang for the buck, straight up. You get excellent image quality, impressive brightness and rich, accurate colors. Seriously, this TV is perfect And if that’s not enough, its Roku TV operating system is our hands-down favorite.
Read our TCL 6-Series (2019 Roku TV) review.
Drones are cool — and there’s still a chance for your dad to be the first on his block to fly one. The Mavic Air effectively combines the best aspects of the company’s top-end Mavic Pro with the portability of the lower-end Spark, while adding some great new capabilities to the mix, including better obstacle avoidance and an improved 4K video camera. Pro tip: Pick up the white model for $180 less than the black device.
Read our DJI Mavic Air review.
Originally published last month.