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7 Dads, 7 Unique Gift Guides...

What We’re Really Buying Our Dads – A Fathers Day Gift Guide From Each Of The EHD Team

Fathers Day Opener1

I had never seen the photo of me and my dad (below) until my mom sent it last week in prep for this post. I don’t know if this was Halloween or a musical/play that we were both in but either way, it’s a good representation of Bob Starke – just always happy…beaming almost to be with his kids. I’m going to frame it, it’s SO CUTE, because when you grew up with five siblings before the era of digital or phone cameras, it’s rare to have individual photos of you with your dad.

But showing you a throwback photo of me in a flower dress or an ’80s cowgirl vest isn’t the point of this post…it’s just a perk.

We were trying to brainstorm how to do a fathers day gift guide that felt more personal, so instead of a roundup of ties and bbq tools (although there might be some) we thought it would be fun for each of us on the EHD team to tell you why our dad (or a dad/father figure that’s important to us) is wonderful and talk about what we think they would like for Father’s Day this year. Maybe you’ll get some good ideas for your dad, or maybe you’ll just get to know us a bit more. We’ll start with me 🙂

Emily And Daddy Final

Growing up with Bob Starke as your dad meant that life was full of a lot of joy, puns and songs. He was and is the happiest guy I know, who puts his family above everything, with nothing else really in the running. He left his law career at the age of 27 (with 4 kids) to teach for our church, wanting a better life for us, despite the (assumed) pay cut. He taught me the importance of being nice to everyone, to prioritize service, and boy did he give me a good example of how we should treat our partners. He kissed my mom every day and told her he loved her so frequently that only as an adult am I actually noticing it. I think the best thing that I got from him is his positivity and optimism – which I’m realizing isn’t as normal as I thought it was growing up. I mean, after battling to get us out six kids out of the house and into the van, he’d start the car and sing, “Well, we’re off like a herd of turtles!” His enthusiasm for life and ability (or choice) to see the positive made growing up with him feel so safe and happy. When my kids and I sing the ‘good morning’ song (of which we made up) on the way to school, I KNOW that is all because of him. 🙂

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So, here are a few things my dad might like. Pulling this together was such a good exercise because usually we do a group gift of something he needs (orchestrated by one of my siblings) or a tie … or just a phone call. The older we get the less gifts we give and receive in our large family, but maybe that should change. So I found a few that I thought he might like and if any of that sounds like your dad, too, then maybe you can snag some ideas.

Sara And Dad Final

Sara – “My dad is easily one of the coolest people I know. My mom attributes this to the fact that we are terrifyingly similar – both socially awkward introverts…with hearts of gold. He’s a camera operator by profession but he’s also a skilled carpenter and stain glass maker, teaches himself how to use just about every new tech gadget there is, a great cook and loves hosting, and is a literal human encyclopedia. I could ask him what was happening in Spain in the 1760s and he can go on and on with a bunch of really interesting facts (he actually has an anthropology degree). ANYWAYS, you get it. I think my dad is really cool, we get along great, he’s super supportive, blah blah blah…but shopping for him can be TOUGH. While I could easily fill several carts with things I know my mom would love, my dad is a little trickier because he tends to just buy the things he wants himself or the things he’s interested in are very niche (aka expensive and weird – like a $450 vintage watch band on eBay that literally no one else would want…except my dad). So instead of guessing, I went straight to the source and just asked him what things would make great Father’s Day gifts for him. Here’s what we came up with:”

Jess And Dad Final

Jess – “Anytime I sit down to write about my dad in a card, speech, etc., I get emotional because he truly is one of the most special humans on this planet. Before my mom even met him, one of her coworkers described him as the kind of guy that would give you his left arm if you needed it more than he did. To be fair, he is right-handed, but it does perfectly describe him :). His generosity is overwhelming, his stories make you wonder how “all that” could happen in one person’s lifetime, and his style is never not on point. He has terrified almost every guy I’ve dated, which, when I was younger, was the worst. But now, it’s kinda great. He is one of my best friends, will probably forever be cooler than me, and words will always fall short of my gratitude and love for him. But a super fun fact about my father (which I know a lot of us share) is that he is IMPOSSIBLE to shop for. He has literally said to me that he feels sorry for me because he knows it’s so hard. Cool. The man either has everything he needs or goes and buys it for himself. I tend to get in my head that if I don’t get something amazing and expensive then it’s not going to show him how much I love him. So stupid, I know. Sometimes I end up sending nothing because I get too in my head about it, which is even worse. However, this year is different not only because I promised myself it would be, but because we also got this wonderful assignment for the blog nearly making it impossible not to be prepared for the big day. While these gifts are specific to my breed of dad, I hope they help you find something awesome for yours.”

Velinda And Dad Final

Velinda – “On June 9, I will be gaining a dad. I’m marrying my long-time friend, Katie, who had told me her dad, Kevin (above), was her “closest person” from day one. When I finally met him during my first trip to Lincoln, Nebraska, a few years later, I got it. So many similarities between them; both sensitive, dry-humored lovers of true crime and time in a garden. We always stay with him during our trips “home” and it’s so natural/comfortable thanks to Kevin’s love of decorating, desserts and nap-time! He’s a butcher who can work a grill and I’m still trying to convince him that Ziplocks are plenty strong to handle shipping his chili to LA. He breaks the cliche of the Midwest man. He’s all heart and openness, and I have him to thank for my soon-to-be wife’s mostly “dad-jokes” humor. I will be walked down the aisle by my mother – that’s who raised me most of my life, so to have gained a kind-hearted man who calls me “pumpkin,” an honor bestowed on only his daughters in the past, means I finally have reason to laud fathers this Father’s Day…and a new one to celebrate for myself.”

Arlyn And Dad Final

Arlyn – “There he is: Angel “Danny” Hernandez…the man who so greatly shaped who I’ve come to be as a 33-year-old woman (who now thankfully has a much better haircut). Thanks to the patriarch of the Hernandez family, I’m an espresso-loving, Beach Boys-listening eternal optimist with a penchant for spending all my money on “dining” experiences and random gadgets. I’m grateful for a childhood jammed-packed full of long solo car rides talking about anything and everything with the occasional snort-filled hysterical laughter fit thrown in. We were/are each other’s confidantes (sorry mom), and our bond is undeniable. Dad, you spent decades sacrificing everything you wanted for yourself (that Bose surround sound system, any car but a Chevy Lumina minivan) to make sure your four kids had everything they needed: private oboe lessons (me), braces (everyone BUT me…by choice). You deserve the world, truly, but hopefully (and knowing you, definitely), something from this list will do until I can pay you back for all the material and non-material gifts you’ve given me.”

Julie And Dad Final

Julie – “Adventure has always been a big part of my life all thanks to my dad. From hiking to horseback riding, scuba diving and riding motorcycles, he was definitely an adrenaline junkie in his heyday. I have followed in his footsteps and am so thankful for that because some of my best memories in life have been from taking risks and embracing the new even if it might seem scary. He is also a man of many talents. Before my older sister Val and I were born, he decided to become a “certified handyman” and by “certified,” I mean he took a few courses and got electrocuted a few times ’til he figured out how to do it the right way. He was always working on a project around the house – building decks or additions – just always fixing things. I always loved to help him out, it is what made me appreciate construction and gave me a DIY attitude. He is why I fell in love with interior design, so THANK YOU dad ’cause now I have a job that I truly love. Also, seven years ago, I gained another father figure when my sister got married. Trent is an avid runner, reader and all-around amazing human. Last summer, when I was backpacking on the PCT for a couple months and wanting to quit, he sent me such a heartfelt message that really helped push me past what I thought was my limit and keep going. I’m a pretty lucky lady to have two men in my life that I look up to, so here’s to you two.”

Brady And Dad Final2

Brady – “Summing up my father into a few words (let alone a paragraph) is something that I could never adequately do. He’s the guy that everyone relates to, the guy that everyone laughs with, the guy that everyone feels safe with, the guy that is everyone’s best friend, the guy that can figure anything out, and the guy that always seems to never take himself too seriously. If you stood me next to my dad, the similarities might be hard to spot both in personality and in looks, but that is one of his greatest assets. He has the uncanny ability to relate to anyone or anything in the most honest, loving and sincere way. Dad, not only are you my hero but my mentor in life and in love. You taught me everything I need to know about working hard, playing hard and having fun along the journey. Even if that does mean calling you in the middle of the night the day before a photoshoot to ask you how to swap out my kitchen faucet in a panic. Happy Father’s Day old man. I love you.”

Emily here again – Oh boy. I personally loved reading about the fathers or father figures of my team. Turns out we all kinda struggle with what to give these guys, but this really gave us the motivation to think about what their interest are and feel a connection to the gift. At first I just stared at the screen thinking, what does my dad really like to do?? before I started shopping which is not my usual method. It was so fun,  brought up a lot of happy childhood memories and hopefully got me closer to a gift he’ll actually like.

Thanks so much to the EHD team for pulling this together and opening up about your dad. They all sound pretty darn awesome.

(If you guys have any genius or clever gift ideas leave them in the comments. These fathers (or father figures) are hard to shop for.)

  1. Oh god some of these made me choke up. Truly father’s are such a blessing. The silent warriors foreshadowed by the much more commonly admired women in our lives. Happy father’s day to all the wonderful men out there. You are our heroes and our role models <3

    1. I teared up at Velinda’s soon-to-be FIL calling her “pumpkin.”

  2. “Brady and his dad in 2018″…I am dying.

    1. HA. i think Brady was late to getting his childhood photo in and had a current one in its place but then found that one last night. That is funny. xx

      1. Now I think we all need to see a present day re-creation of that photo!

    2. Ok all fixed but we will definitely talk to him about a 2018 remake:)

  3. I lost my dad four years ago, and I already have my husband’s gift, so I was prepared to skip over this one. I’m so glad I didn’t. I’ve always loved your blog for the design tips and advice (duh), but today was special. I loved hearing everyone’s personal thoughts and stories about their dads; it made me think of all the ways my dad shaped me and everything I miss about him. I could tell you all treasure your dads as much as I did mine, and that was nice to read.

    For the beautiful stories and all the memories you brought back to me, many thanks to y’all (I’m from the south, ladies. Don’t judge my choice of plural pronouns.)

    1. Ah, thank you 🙂 I’m sorry about your dad …. but glad that this post made you think of him 🙂 xx

  4. I love this post. So much more original than the “pick a gift by sterotype”. My dad passed away when I was a teenager so father’s day can be a really tough time of year but it’s still lovley to read about the unique bonds people have with the men in their lives.

    1. xx 🙂 I’m sorry. lots of love. xx

  5. This post is everything that I love about your blog! So personal, real, and fun to read along with providing helpful and stylish suggestions. It was just great!

  6. Awwww, these are sweet. I already got my dad a gift, but agree with others that the stories, not the stuff, are the best part of this post.

    Btw, that’s a Bunge family portrait—or they’ve got a pretty funny photobomber. 😉

  7. This was so nice to read and made me think about what makes my dad special, in more than a “thank you for taking care of me all those years when I was a kid” way. Really thoughtful. Thanks for sharing it.

  8. THIS POST IS SO GOOD. i love the stories! thanks for sharing your dads with us!

  9. This is the first gift guide I’ve read (from any blog!) in probably years. And I found some great ideas for a few dads in my life! THANK YOU for making it personal. Loved this post.

  10. Such a heartfelt, beautiful post! Fatherhood is what holds our country together! (not detracting from mothers right now–of course mothers!) So lovely. Also, I’m going to try to work “we’re off like a herd of turtles” into my lexicon. So awesome.

  11. LOVE this post! What a creative and fun way to do a gift guide. Thank you for this little glimpse into your families + great gift ideas. I got a little teary at your dad descriptions and photos. So sweet!

  12. This is a beautiful post!

  13. In the past few years when my adult daughters asked me what I wanted for mother’s day I told them I would love a note telling me about something special they remember about growing up or about our lives now. I have received some wonderful notes that are very thoughtful and encouraging to me. I know their dad would love the same.

    1. It’s very true. Gifts aren’t necessary unless they are thoughtful (at least for me). A note about how they were/are a good parent is gold. xx

  14. These stories are the best. My beloved dad passed away suddenly 3 years ago and that makes this particular holiday much harder, but I always see it as a time to reflect on my memories of him just like your team did with their own dad stories.

    It’s such a good exercise to just sit down and describe your dad in writing. I didn’t really do it until my dad died. As soon as it happened, I found myself wanted to tell everyone about him, starting with his eulogy. That was/is my coping mechanism and now I can’t stop doing it. His birthday, the day he died, Father’s Day – on those days I always write a little social media tribute to him with some of my favorite memories. I keep a running list on my iPhone so that when random memories pop up, I add a bullet to my list. I don’t want to forget anything and I want to make sure my children, the grandbabies who never got to meet him, know about all of his quirks that made him who he was and made me into the person I am now.

    Also, reading a post like this also makes me think of the people who don’t have such positive memories of their dads. Holidays like these are always celebratory and joyful for some, and a hurtful reminder for others.

    May we all strive to be moms/dads/aunts/uncles/friends like those so lovingly depicted in this post!

  15. This was a great post! I loved getting to know the EA team through the stories of their dads and father figures in their lives. Thank you for opening up and sharing.

  16. Great post, but I would love to see your team place a bigger emphasis on highlighting small business and independent makers in future gift guides. I’m assuming Food52, Nordstrom, etc. gave the funds to make this content possible, but throwing in a few small guys would be an awesome touch! I don’t mean this in any way but enthusiastic encouragement! Your team creates great content and I look forward to future posts!

    1. Hey Alexander, thanks! And no, no brands were involved in this post whatsoever and we love Food52 because it does in fact support almost all small makers and artisans. I know that my dad would rather have the new high tech gardening gloves than the leather artisanal ones that I might like more aesthetically. Take a peek a Mel’s post yesterday for some small makers from Etsy that we love and highlight. Glad you enjoyed the post!

  17. This post has been deeply touching to read. I love that everyone got to share with us their personal stories. I had tears in my eyes and also chuckled because so many times it brought me memories of my Father. Thank you for that ❤️

    Ideas were spot on too!!!

  18. Aww geez, I shouldn’t have read this at work ha ha . Huge lump in my throat and happy tears in my eyes.
    Fathers Day is a different kind of day for me as my Dad passed when I was only 2 years old, but this post is beautiful and lifted me up. It’s so much more than a collection of tangible items to gift – what warms my heart are the love stories told and memories that are intrinsically linked to them. Thankyou and Happy Fathers Day to you and yours x

  19. I just have to share as I thought of something totally different for my dad this year. He means the world to me, but he is sooooo hard to buy for. Only unsuoassed by my hubby (geez the men in my life!). Anywho – this year I got him a DNA test kit!!!!

  20. So…about letters from fathers to kids: My parents had 9 kids. The only letter I have from my dad is one which he wrote to all of us. There was some planning in regard to a holiday trip. We each got the same (photocopied) letter.
    Dear Ginny, Ed, Bob, Mary, Patty, Mike, Alice, Marty, and John,
    My name was circled. I died. I still have it.

    1. That is amazing!!! I am surprised my Dad hasn’t done that yet!

  21. I’m also someone who has lost her dad. I normally skip right past the stereotypical gift guides for no reason other than they simply no longer apply. That said, I am SO GLAD I read this.

    To be honest, even when he was alive no gift guide ever really helped me find gifts for him – they all just felt like they were written by consumerist aliens who understood the vague notion of fathers, not human people with actual fathers.

    But THIS was so lovely. It made me reflect on all of the little nuances about him and how they have shaped me. I’m so glad I had a dad that wasn’t just a simple caricature who fit neatly into a trope (“The Workaholic Dad” “The Outdoorsy Dad”). Based on the sentiments in the post, it sounds like the EHD team feels the same way about their pops. So sweet and lovely to read.

    1. I’m so sorry about your dad. I’m glad our site didn’t make you feel like garbage. 🙂 I so appreciate your comment.
      thanks for coming and staying.
      always. xx

  22. This was such a sweet and thoughtful post. Just wanted to say, I know you’re on the hunt for new writers/voices to the blog, but it seems you have several already on staff! Would happily read more from any of these lovely folks on an ongoing basis.

  23. Thank you for posting this gift guide! So many guides feel really impersonal and I know I’m always looking for ideas beyond the typical whiskey rocks and ties. I would love to see this around the holidays if you guys do more gift guides then!

  24. This was just the best!!!
    As Emily is so open+ thoughtful, it stands to reason she surrounds herself with a like-minded team. Thank you all for the beautiful stories about your dads (truly blessed), and the inspiration! My husband is so tough to buy for. It sounds like a common problem. This made my day, and gave me some solid, valuable ideas for Father’s Day!

    1. oh good. and thank you 🙂

  25. There are a lot of really excellent, useful gift ideas here for our hard-to-buy-for dads–thank you! Love the profiles of each dad, too, makes it really personal and meaningful.

  26. Sniffle sniffle. Oh man was this a beautiful read. Thanks for sharing such intimate portraits and gift recommendations!

  27. This was just so sweet! Thanks for sharing a bit about your dads. My dad passed away two years ago and I miss him every day, but was just so blessed to have him.

  28. This was so beautiful and uplifting! I’ve never have a gift guide move me. 🙂 Thank you, thank you for sharing your stories! Like many other comments, my dad passed away a few years ago. I miss him every day and am forever grateful for him. (sorry if this is a repeat, previous comment didn’t seem to post.)

  29. Awesome post! I stopped reading gift guide articles because they are so blah and repetitive. This one shines! What touching sentiments! I want to befriend Sara’s dad! Kudos to you all 🙂

  30. Such great ideas – fun to see each EHD team member and their Dad, along with their picks! Velinda’s was so moving!

  31. This is HANDS DOWN my favorite post of ALL the posts you have ever done!!! What a gift to get to know each of you better via your Dads. Emily, I can relate to the lack of photos with your Dad and I cherish the few I that have surfaced of my Dad who was always my #1 fan and cheerleader. You inherited your Dad’s positive attitude and creative joy.
    ALL of your Dads must be beaming with pride !!! Happy Father’s day to all the Dads and hubbys and Pop pops!

  32. This is HANDS DOWN my favorite post of ALL the posts you have ever done!!! What a gift to get to know each of you better via your Dads. Emily, I can relate to the lack of photos with your Dad and I cherish the few I that have surfaced of my Dad who was always my #1 fan and cheerleader. You inherited your Dad’s positive attitude and creative joy.
    ALL of your Dads must be beaming with pride !!! Happy Father’s day to all the Dads and hubbys and Pop pops!

    sorry of this posted twice

  33. I love your post, it is very easy to understand and meticulous, thank you for sharing.
    usps tracking

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