Frank Mulligan: An insider’s guide to Father’s Day gifts

Frank Mulligan

As Father’s Day approaches, you may wonder whether a display of filial affection affirming your love and appreciation for dear old dad is preferable to any sort of tangible gift.

Well, it’s not.

As a wise man once noted, “Papa needs a new pair of shoes,” and preferably something stylish in suede.

You see, dads are an insecure lot, and they need something with a little sticker value to demonstrate that you really do care, like maybe a new car, real estate or precious metals in bulk.

You may also be wondering whether you should be worrying about dad comparing his gift with the present you got for mom on Mother’s Day. Will he actually be put out if the Mother’s Day gift costs a little more?

The answers are, yes, and, you betcha he will.

Moms certainly do deserve a lot of credit for your being here on the planet, what with actually giving birth to you and all.

But dad also played a key role on the day of your arrival.

For instance, he had to drive mom to the hospital. Traffic can be pretty trying when you’re in a hurry.

Then he had to find a place to park. That’s always an ordeal around a busy hospital.

Then he had to get change to feed the meter. Do you have any idea how rude shopkeepers can get when you ask them for change without buying anything?

And dad had to do all this while under the added pressure of mom going on and on about labors pains this and labor pains that.

So you see, you owe dad.

You owe him big.

Now, you siblings may be wondering whether you should be ruthlessly competing with each other in trying to outdo the others in buying dad the most expensive gift.

The answer is, yes. You should be.

You are, after all, competing for dad’s affection, and mercy is for the weak.

You may also wonder whether it’s possible to go overboard, to provide dad with something so extravagant that it might appear vulgar or crass.

The answer is no. That’s not at all possible. The sky’s the limit and that includes buying dad his own plane or helicopter.

Finally, let’s say you failed to heed the excellent advice offered in primers like this one and you’ve forgotten to get dad a suitable gift on Father’s Day.

How do you extricate yourself from this dire predicament that could in all likelihood completely sever your relationship with the man who had to keep going out to the street to feed the meter on the day of your birth?

Do you really think it’s OK to assuage dad through the thoughtless expedient of simply forking over a substantial amount of cash in lieu of providing something you put some thought and feeling into?

Yeah, actually that’d be OK.

Provided, that is, that you start right away on plans for dad’s present on Father’s Day 2011.

And start saving up.

Frank Mulligan is an editor in GateHouse Media New England’s Raynham office and can be reached at