THE IN-TRAY

Here’s how to up your Father’s Day gift-giving skills

THE MOST THOUGHTFUL FATHER’S DAY PRESENTS COME FROM MECCA. READ ON FOR GIFT IDEAS THAT WILL KNOCK HIS SOCKS OFF—AND THAT AREN’T SOCKS.

I called and asked my father to name the best Father’s Day gift I’d ever given him and he told me he couldn’t choose just one. I always nail it, he said. I’m wonderful at buying presents!

It’s true, I thought at the time. I am wonderful at buying presents. Women generally are, and better at it than men, according to science I read on the internet before turning my search to this year’s gift. Yet as I was about to settle on a navy polo like one he already has, but with thicker stripes, I realised he hadn’t been able to name a favourite because he couldn’t remember any of them.

Even though I have spent more every year since I started pulling in four figures at age 15, and bought gifts from every category, they’ve all been chosen from the “but with thicker stripes” philosophy. Something he already has, but not exactly. A biography of a cricket player, but a different cricket player. A hat identical to his current hat, except darker. The kind of whiskey he has been drinking since 1990 but look: a special edition label!

This year, in the hope finding a gift he will hereafter recall, I am going in every other direction. If you need to up your game for similar reasons, or because you forgot last year, or lethally left your brother in charge of a joint present, consider these new and better categories of gift for your No.1 Dad.

SOMETHING HE NEEDS, BUT MUCH, MUCH NICER

Your father would say that when it comes to soap, you cannot beat Imperial Leather because it is $4.20 and it smells decent and not flowery. But only until you buy him Malin + Goetz Rum Body Wash. It smells incredible, as warm and citrusy and masculine as an Old Fashioned. It isn’t cheap, which is the point, but then again the bottle is so stout and generous, it’s not as if it’s the Cristal of shower products either. If pointing out that it contains amino acids to hydrate and purify skin might set him off on science talk, instead say it doubles as foaming bath gel.

Malin + Goetz also does a set of six little bottles, including shampoo, conditioner, cleanser and two non-ladyish moisturisers as well as body wash. They call it their Essentials Bag. I call it a gateway gift to get our dads onto good product. If yours is already a little-bottle man, evidenced by the countless Hyatt shampoos in the bathroom drawer, upgrade him with a travel kit by Grown Alchemist, a foursome of routine essentials or eight covering his every base.

SOMETHING HE SHOULD BE USING, YET ISN’T

The only time I have seen my father moisturise was after a brutal ski-sunburn. But every man over 40 should be moisturising because the unfair advantage they have when it comes to skin ageing is going to run out one day. As you may like to mention in the card, Verso Day Cream has Vitamin B3 to make skin look clearer and not-so-dull, as well as retinol to keep the collagen coming and minimise signs he has been neglecting his rakish good looks until now.

SOMETHING HE CONSIDERS A LUXURY EVEN THOUGH IT ISN’T

Some fathers like a good cologne and wear it daily. Others have made a single bottle of Davidoff Cool Water last a decade because it’s strictly for date nights with your mother. Converting that kind to everyday scent-wearing means finding one that’s fresh and modern but not so exclusive he’ll make it an ornament on his dresser. More specifically, it means giving your father Davana & Vanille Bourbon by French brand 100Bon. Above said bourbon notes, there’s cedar, vanilla, something pleasingly tobacco-y and it’s affordable but utterly without the chemical tang of cheaper cologne. 100Bon’s bottles are also uniquely refillable, so he’ll be happy to replenish his own stock, from an even more cost-effective 200ml refill, once he’s converted to a liberal morning spritz.

SOMETHING HE DOESN’T KNOW EXISTS

Like potpourri and Oprah, your father may think that scented candles exist only for women. But Boy Smells makes candles that work for everyone. Gardener is their best, especially for a father who happens to be one since it’s fragranced to smell like citrus grove and tomato vines and honeysuckle. Which it does, and the scent lingers properly after it’s extinguished, which you already know is the measure of a quality candle. Yes, the box is pink but so is the inside of a rare steak, something he likes already.

SOMETHING YOU DID NOT KNOW EXISTS

The cardboard pine tree swinging from the rear-view mirror is not the only way for your father to address the wet-dog smell in his car. The French parfumier Diptyque makes a diffuseur pour la voiture, a smart, black objet that clips to the air-conditioning and releases one of its signature fragrances. Figuier is never the wrong choice, or Ambre via a replaceable disc, depending on his preference or how many Labradors are patron of his backseat.

SOMETHING THAT COMPENSATES HIM FOR HOW ANNOYING YOU WERE AS A TEENAGER

Which is to say, a properly spendy and truly luxurious gift from his grown-up daughter. Skincare pioneers including Elemis and Dr. Barbara Sturm both offer guy-focused sets that help calm skin challenged by shaving and indifference. Le Labo’s Santal 33 is another opulent idea. Supposedly inspired by the Marlborough man, the scent is leathery and musky in a slightly sweet way, due to the violet, cardamom and iris involved. Best, the label can be personalised to say what you wish. Think, his initials or “World’s Greatest Dad” if 16-year-old you didn’t already say that with a mug.




Words by Meg Mason
August 2019

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