Best gifts to give your dad for 2020

Dads can be difficult to shop for, whether it’s Father’s Day, their birthday, Valentine’s Day or some other special occasion that warrants finding the perfect gift. And if you’re needing last-minute gifts for dad, it can be even harder and more stressful without some guidance.

Fortunately, dear reader, I’m a father and have the inside scoop on unique gifts and products that you’ll really want. They’re the gifts that I really want — I’m hoping someone will tell my kids about them — as well as the gifts  that I want to give to other dads.

With these 11 selections, I’ve covered the gamut on the best gifts for dad: There are the electronics every dad needs, including a soundbarTV, tablet and headphones. And then there’s an utterly practical mess-proof frying pan attachment. Move over, socks. There’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to procure the perfect gift, cool kit, or even use this list as the jumping-off point for great gift ideas.

We have soap, shampoo, shaving cream and other personal products. There’s a cooler and a coffee mug. And then there’s gaming gear and a drone. (How cool are drones?!) These cool gifts for dad are just what he needs. Check out my picks for the best gifts for dad below for some great last-minute gift options that are sure to be the perfect fit.

Sarah Tew/CNET

One can never buy the Ember mug for oneself — it must be received as a gift. At $99 (for the 10-ounce mug) , it’s simply too expensive to buy for yourself or anyone except especially dear relatives (I’m talking about your dad). The unique porcelain Ember Mug and saucer kit 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 and a great gift idea. 

Read our take on the Ember Mug.


Inexpensive, easy to use and nifty — those are all things dads like, and all qualities the unique 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.  It’s also dishwasher safe and easy to clean. A top choice for smart dads who want breakfast, but don’t want to spend ages cleaning up.

Dollar Shave Club

I was skeptical of Dollar Shave Club at first — I already have too many subscriptions. But the blades in this shaving kit are truly great, and I have come to appreciate a number of the company’s other shaving products, including their after-shave balm, and gift sets, which have helped me up my shaving game and always look photo ready. And it’s not just me: My 7-year-old son loves the company’s Wanderer brand shampoo and soap. Plus, shipping on orders of restock boxes that contain blades is free. All in all, it beats a bottle of aftershave. 


It’s cool-looking, tough as nails and big — with a bigger-than-advertised 62-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 (you know, for a glass water bottle… or craft beer). And you can buy it for $130 from Lifetime.

Read our review of the Lifetime High Performance Cooler.

Sarah Tew/CNET

If your dad likes to play video games, he will freak, in a good way, when you give him the Switch Lite. Nintendo has a unique pedigree in the video game world, and this sleek and light system is perfect for handheld gaming. The kit comes with all the products one needs to access Nintendo’s immense and celebrated library of games. It has a battery life of three to seven hours (so you’ll be free from dad jokes for that long) 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-canceling 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 comfortable to wear, sound 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.

Sonos via Amazon

The Sonos Beam looks good, sounds big and integrates more easily with other A/V equipment than any other sound bar speaker system. It offers not only the most flexible music system available but has Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa built in, giving Dad options when it’s time to watch TV. Adding a pair of stylish $100 Ikea Symphonisk bookshelves will tie the home theater kit together (and can hold a book or two) and create a man cave that your pops will be proud of. It’s a speaker that’s more than a speaker. All he’ll need is a cold drink, and he can sit back and watch… and listen. 

Read our Sonos Beam review.

Best Buy

When your dad was little, he dreamed of having an arcade in his home. You can make his dream come true for $450. 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. Watch your dad spend hours in a galaxy far, far away.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Does your pops read the newspaper on his phone? Not cool. Modern dads need a bigger screen to see their news, to read a 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 light 9.7-inch iPad Apple introduced in 2018, which remains the best deal in the lineup when it’s on sale.

Read our Apple iPad 2018 (9.7-inch) review.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The best gifts for dad have good value — and this TV offers the best bang for the buck, straight up (even if Game of Thrones is over). 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. What dad doesn’t like to watch TV?

Read our TCL 6-Series (2019 Roku TV) review.

Read more: Best TVs for 2020

Drones are cool — and there’s still a chance for your dad to be the first on his block to fly one. The unique 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 kit, 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.

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Originally published last month.