How to Buy a Father's Day Gift

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Scoping out the array of men's gifts at department stores would leave you with the impression that every male in the country is not only in need of a new tie or gadget, but a golf fanatic. On the contrary, men's passions are diverse. Try these ideas for great dad gifts, whether you're buying for a grandfather, husband, first-time dad or good friend.

  • Zero in on an enduring hobby or new interest, then shop for gear and accessories he doesn't have yet. Is he a science or computer buff, a car or airplane fanatic, a fisherman, a cook, a gardener or basketball fan? Shop Discovery.com, an auto supply store, Williams-Sonoma or Sur La Table. Visit a local nursery or buy a couple of tickets to a ballgame.

  • Do something fun together. Plan a fishing or camping trip, or even a helicopter ride. Or buy tickets and popcorn, and let him choose the movie.

  • Tap into a nostalgic moment or time you shared. If you've traveled together, get a coffee-table book on a place you visited that evokes a great adventure.

  • Go high-tech with gizmos all men find irresistible. A Forever Flashlight (foreverflashlight.com, $40) works without batteries; after a good shake, it provides five minutes of light. Pick up a pair of binoculars that takes pictures (around $100), a two-way radio and wristwatch combo (around $50), or a wristwatch-camera combo. Get inspired at HammacherSchlemmer.com or TheSharperImage.com, or tour RestorationHardware.com.

  • Appeal to his practical side. Buy him jumper cables, a really good road map (such as from Thomas.com) or a Leatherman mini tool kit for his glove compartment.

  • Feed his sweet tooth with a bag of his favorite childhood candy. See's Candy (sees.com) has a variety of tasty gifts that will tempt anyone off the Atkins plan. Alternatively, pick up a savory treat like smoked salmon or a 20-lb. can of pistachios from Costco.

  • Head for a home improvement store and get him a cordless drill. These are as essential to survival as food, water and the remote.

  • Birdie, don't bogie. Buy a set of monogrammed golf towels and a pack of golf balls (real or chocolate), and spring for a guest pass for a day on the green. Better yet, go with him.

  • Add a little dazzle to his wardrobe. If he likes to go out on the town, order a pair of monogrammed silver cuff links. If he's just a regular Joe, update his bedraggled wallet or briefcase.

  • Give him the world. Find a gorgeous wall map, atlas or globe at NationalGeographic.com. Or appeal to a secret passion: a map of Civil War battlefields, for example, is $9.95.

Tips & Warnings

  • Give little ones a hand with their Father's Day gifts. They can create e-mail greetings for Dad or send him a virtual Father's Day tie. Head to Radio Shack (radioshack.com) and buy a recordable picture frame, and have the kids speak into it for a really memorable photo.

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