Father’s Day gifts that are not lame
Father’s Day holds a sweet spot among nominally celebrated holidays. (I dare you to argue it’s more important than Mother’s Day.)
It honors fathers of all ages and backgrounds, and is therefore general enough to avoid the anxiety that other passage-oftime celebrations can invoke. I don’t dread it the way I dread my birthdays, in other words, and I’ll take any excuse for my wife to wake me up with doughnuts and coffee.
But it’s aimed at a specific enough group (guys with kids) that anyone who fits the bill can squeeze a little joy out of the perks: greeting cards, hugs, favorite dinners, back rubs or whatever else my family deems a worthy tribute to my existence.
Of course, most sports gifts are lost on me (unless you want to grab me a vintage, mint-condition 1989 Upper Deck baseball card set). Other gifts that invoke mainstream notions of dudeness — tools and home improvement tomes, or meat preparation and barbecue supplies — are a similar waste.
Don’t bother with brown liquor (I don’t drink), cologne (hate the stuff), ties or belts, war films (those begin and end with “Full Metal Jacket”), leather products or automotive accessories. (I like my aging Honda Accord but despise car culture.)
I will proudly cop to loving video games, sci-fi (in any medium), music, movies, food, cool T-shirts and shoes. Planning a day trip, a concert, or a meal will also get you in my good graces but quick.
It’s important to note that I would be grateful for anything my family gave me for Father’s Day. If my 5-year-old scrawled a picture in Capri Sun-spit and handed it to me with pride, I
would treasure it like a Van Gogh original.
But what else do I want? Romance! Culture! Mystery! Things that challenge me to be better and more curious, or more socially connected and aware of my environment.
If you plan to spend the money and time to make Father’s Day more than a passing thought, there’s a vast, rich sea of ideas beyond the Lowe’s gift card you can pick up in the grocery checkout aisle:
• If you’re looking for beer, wine or liquor gifts for Father’s Day, think locally. Denver is renowned for its craft beer (and increasingly wine and liquor) for a reason, and there are dozens of acclaimed breweries only too happy to sell you to-go brews or gift cards.
Craft Alley (denver.craftalley.co) sells crowlers — canned growlers — from a rotating selection of brands in a mail order or pickup-based service, including IPAs, porters, sour ales, saisons and more from Colorado breweries such as Spangalang, Launch Pad, Resolute and Fiction. Customize your IBUs and ABVs on their website, or visit their shop for one of their free weekly tastings (1455 S. Pearl Street).
• Searching for quality, local reading material? The Tattered Cover and other independent, metro-area book sellers (BookBar, The Bookies, City Stacks, and long stretches of South Broadway) are happy to point you toward Colorado authors, whether it’s the late, great Kent Haruf or contemporary nonfiction-writer extraordinaire Helen Thorpe. Denver-based critic and sci-fi editor Jason Heller, whose new nonfiction book “Strange Stars” (Melville House) examines the influence of sci-fi on David Bowie and 1970s popular culture, is a personal favorite.
• If you came up in ’90s zine culture (like me) and are into DIY publications and the weirder, more literate corners of the city, places like Kilgore Books & Comics (624 E. 13th Ave.) and Mutiny Information Cafe (2 S. Broadway) carry not only great comics from past and present Colorado artists and writers (John Porcellino, Noah Van Sciver and R. Alan Brooks) but also free, regularly published lo- cal magazines such as Suspect Press, Birdy and small, handmade zines. Also check out the University of Colorado Denver’s Copper Nickel poetry and fiction journal, which features handsome design and expertly curated writings.
• I’m no clothes horse, but I am highly specific in my fashion aesthetic — however lame it may be. You won’t find me spending much time or money in any of the dozens of highend boutiques around town unless they’re unisex and have a sense of humor. Mostly, I like places such as Fancy Tiger Clothing (55 S. Broadway), I Heart Denver (in the Denver Pavilions and Littleton’s Southwest Plaza) and Jolly Goods (4020 Tennyson St.), where you can get everything from hot sauces and kids’ one- sies to stickers, magnets and prints. Even better: shops like Hope Tank (64 Broadway) donate a portion of their clothing and jewelry sales to charity.
• A home-cooked meal or a pizza from Enzo’s End are both great in my book. But I wouldn’t turn down something ridiculous and indulgent, like chocolate-covered jalapeno bacon from Genesee Candy Land ($10 for a four-pack). There are Father’s Day beer brunches galore on June 17, from Boulder’s St. Julien Hotel & Spa to the Vail Beer Classic, and no shortage of themed smorgasboards (I’m looking at you, Denver BBQ Festival, June 15-17 at Mile High Stadium).
But I’d also love to get signed up for a cooking class, online through Denver’s Craftsy. Or, better yet, one-off and in-person. Everywhere from Denver Botanic Gardens to north Denver’s Stir Cooking School offers them, and I can vouch for how much fun they are (they’re a meal, party, date and education all in one).
• Subscriptions to cultural programs, memberships to museums and restaurant gift cards also tell dads that you want to keep spending time with them well into the future. And isn’t that the point of Father’s Day? To show that you’re not quite ready to be rid of them (yet)?
Denver-based critic and sci-fi editor Jason Heller’s new nonfiction book “Strange Stars” (Melville House) examines the influence of sci-fi on David Bowie and 1970s popular culture.
Denver comic Greg Baumhauer performs at Mutiny Information Cafe during 2016’s High Plains Comedy Festival. Mutiny carries great comics and free, regularly published local magazines such as Suspect Press, Birdy and small, handmade zines.
The I Heart Denver Store in the Denver Pavilions on the 16th Street Mall. There is also a location in Littleton’s Southwest Plaza.