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A Father’s Day Gift Guide Straight From An Actual “Older” Father (Jess’ Dad Decided To Take Gifting Matters Into His Own Hands)

A few weeks ago my dad called me up and told me (emphasis on “told” as in saying “no” wasn’t really on option), “Hey, I’m gonna write a Father’s Day blog” to which I said, “You mean a Father’s Day post? Ok, write it and we’ll see.” You don’t get to write on Style by Emily Henderson without knowing it’s called A POST, dad. So after a few edits of what he considered every time to be his “final draft,” I sent it to Emily because I was clearly too close to really make a truly objective call. I love my dad’s writing because it’s just so him. I hear his accent, his pacing, his laugh and it all makes me happy. When my mom first got sick 12 years ago, instead of having to individually answer and ultimately console every well-intentioned call, he started a weekly email called Julia’s Update. They are to this day some of the most beautiful pieces of writing I have yet to read. It wasn’t just about her cancer or her sometimes up, sometimes down condition, but the story of a man who loved his wife heart and soul (that’s how they would sign their cards to each other, H&S). This of course is not that but hopefully helps to paint a deeper picture as you read.

He really is the kinda man that’s impossible to put in a box. Just when you write him off as a tough guy from Chicago with a million insane stories that can build almost anything, he starts talking about starting a flower shop business out of the back of his vintage Ford truck because “the flowers in his town suck”. And my apologies to anyone who has sat next to him on an airplane while watching “The Greatest Showman” and potentially heard his mumblings of how he was cheated out of having a good voice. He just can’t overcome the urge to dance in his seat with every song (or around the living room where seatbelts aren’t an issue). This is all to say that he is the absolute most incredible person I have ever met. I owe so much of my ambition, humor, carpentry skills (ok, all of my carpentry skills), and more to him. So getting to share him with you today is pretty special. Plus he has some really great gift ideas that maybe I’ll be using in the near and far future:) What a relief!

Now, if I call him a boomer he might actually shoot me. So all I will say is there’s a 40-year difference which shocks most people (he would want me to add that) and many of you might have an equally “badass dad who has zero time for bullsh*&# but likes nice and/or useful things”. SO without further ado, Lester take it away…

Every year around this time, my daughter Jess asks me for Father’s Day gift suggestions. Because EHD’s team is mostly women. A dad’s opinion seems to be in order. Many of my suggestions are not used because they are expensive (my tastes have definitely gotten more expensive with no kids to support). Jess doesn’t want to offend any readers or cost you a lot of money. Good for her. However, I guarantee you the father recipients would not be upset or offended with a Tom Ford custom suit. Ha! We all think we deserve it (and we probably do). So, If we get away from expensive, then the gift needs to be useful. I cannot tell you how many of my Father’s Day gifts have gone into “The Drawer” along with the peace sign tie, the Harley Davidson bottle opener, the glow in the dark pen, the pressure point wristbands for motion sickness, the miniature Swiss army knife, the switchblade, and golf green repair tool. The list goes on and on. Yikes! In defense of my kids, they have gotten better with age but every once in a while I’ll get a “Drawer” candidate. So let’s get down to some basics. 

Father’s Day gifts should be used or worn more than just when the kids visit. And that should be voluntary not out of guilt. They should be something that fits our character and habits (why do our children want to change us?). I like working with my hands so tools are a good bet. An artist’s easel with paint and brushes didn’t quite work for me (sorry, Jess). But I did give it a shot. Succeeded in embarrassing myself. Most dads wear some kind of aftershave or cologne. Ok, Old Spice is not Creed Aventus but it’s what I like. A fancy wood-burning pizza oven was way too much work. By the time I got the wood going, I could’ve cooked a half dozen pizzas in my conventional oven in 12 minutes. I like easy. I think most dads prefer easy too. So, here are some suggestions:

Compact Car Jump Starter

A Type S 12v Jump Starter. It is a portable power bank for jump-starting your vehicle. No more jumper cables. No need to get another vehicle involved. And it is small. Fits easily under your seat. It will charge any cell phone or computer and is rechargeable. It’s real handy. Any auto parts store has them. Also on Amazon, you can filter them by type of car so that you make sure you get one that’s gonna work.

Something else automotive could be a mobile detailing gift certificate or an oil change gift certificate works also. Sooner or later we have to get it done. The gift doesn’t always need to be something you can hold in your hand. Services are good and appreciated.

WiFi Trail Camera

So I bought this trail camera to monitor my chicken coop at night. The chicken feed was being consumed at an extraordinary rate. My girls (chickens) just couldn’t eat that much. Lo and behold I saw the entire neighborhood having dinner. In the early evening, the squirrels would dine along with an assortment of birds. In the late-night hours gophers and rats would be feasting. I also found their entry points. I even spotted a deer grazing just outside the coop. It was all I needed to see to solve the issues. After seeing its capabilities I have all sorts of ideas on how to put this camera to good use since I’ve turned into kinda an outdoorsy guy during the pandemic. It comes in a camo color which is Dad-friendly and has wifi so I can monitor from anywhere. It’s perfect.

1. Men’s Denim Trucker Jacket | 2. Levi’s Trucker Denim Jacket | 3. Denim Jacket

If your dad is about clothes, a jean jacket never doesn’t satisfy. We wear them often. We can beat them up. They are washable (though that doesn’t happen often around here). Just make sure it has pockets. We need pockets. We’ve been stashing stuff in our pockets since kindergarten (frogs, marbles, matches, etc.)

The Greatest Showman Shirt (Given by Jess) | The Princess Bride Shirt (Given by Morgan, My Son)

Most men have dozens of t-shirts but we only wear maybe 6 of them constantly. (I cannot figure out why we hold on to the others ). T-shirts are harder than you think. First of all, you must know if your dad likes the artwork on the front or on the back. We all have a preference. I prefer the front (not afraid to make a statement). This is probably the first my kids have heard that (they’ve just guessed right all these years). Then finding the perfect shirt is brutal. One year my son bought me a “Princess Bride” t-shirt. I love it and never go a day without at least one compliment when I am wearing it. I’m gonna guess my son and I watched that movie at least fifty times when he was much younger. He would lay on my chest and we wouldn’t budge for two hours. Jess and I did the same for “The Little Mermaid”. Though she didn’t get me that shirt, she did get me one from one of my personal favorite movies, “The Greatest Showman” (I’ve always been a song and dance guy. What can I say?) I get compliments galore on that one also. My best memories are of those two on my chest. My late wife lying on my chest was pretty awesome too. Man, do I miss those days. Where was I? Oh yeah, Father’s Day. 

1. RYOBI Multi-Tool (with Battery) | 2. Milwaukee Multi-Tool (with Battery)

If your dad is a handyman type like me, a tool might work. The most versatile cordless tool I have is a multi-tool. All manufacturers make them. Look for a sale. Sometimes the Lowes and Home Depots of the world have a set of cordless tools on sale with a multi-tool included. It is a good way to complement his tool collection and give your dad the multi-tool. Win, Win! Though I use other tools more often, the multi-tool has saved the day more than any other. 

Editor’s Note: Les prefers the Milwaukee but both are good. Also, if your dad already has cordless power tools then keep the brands the same so the batteries are interchangeable (also make sure if you buy a multi-tool make sure it has a battery:)

1. 20-Ton Bottle Jack | 2. 50-Ton Bottle Jack

Another tool that most people don’t have lying around is a bottle jack. A small or medium size is fine. The only caveat is that your dad won’t truly appreciate it until he needs it. On that day, you’re a star. 

Telescoping Basin Wrench

Undersink repairs are common and hard to get at. A telescoping basin wrench makes life much easier for us old guys. Again, won’t be appreciated until he needs it. 

2021 Callaway Warbird Golf Balls

If your dad is a golfer, a dozen balls and a round of golf (for at least two) is perfect. Free balls and free golf… that’s what we see. Yay!

Yaxell Gou SG2 8-inch Chef’s Knife

If your dad likes to cook like I do, one sharp quality knife is all I need (they are worth the do-re-me).

wrigley field…GO CUBBIES.

It’s not hard if you keep it simple. Activities are good too. A professional baseball game with my kids was always a great day. I taught both of them how to keep score. I would test them during the game. It was great. I know the pandemic has put the maliooks (read: a stop) on this idea to some extent but they do have limited safe seating and if everyone is vaccinated, why not? 

I would guess a picnic in the park is safe enough these days. Personally, I’d like a picnic in Central Park. It’s the greatest park in the world in the greatest city in the world. Yep, I would like that. I think every dad has a favorite place like that. 

A gift certificate to a fancy restaurant is not even close to a gift certificate to In-N-Out Burger or White Castle or a Chicago hot dog stand. I’m from Chicago if you haven’t gotten that yet.

Editor’s Note: For my brother’s birthday, my dad ordered a few “kits” from The Taste of Chicago and it was awesome. We were in heaven. Deep dish pizzas and a Chicago Dog kit (yes, even the poppy seed buns and celery salt).

jess as a baby… i liked her better then. juuuuust kidding.

We have enough socks, we have enough baseball caps, we have enough ties, we have enough gadgets (unless you come across a really cool one). We don’t need anything with “World’s Best Dad!” on it. We already know that. On a more personal level, you could do something with pictures of you and your Dad. Hint: we really liked you as babies. 

I am certainly not opposed to a bouquet of flowers. I have a twin sister and my feminine side is strong (thank god) Hint: Not a fan of grocery store flowers. 

back in the day teaching my kids to build a shed.

Just keep it simple and keep it real. Spend time on the card. Funny is better than mushy. We’ll get mushy anyway. Our greatest joy is our kid’s happiness. So be happy! It’s a good gift believe me. When my kids thank me for something that I have taught them (either literally or by example) it just lights me up. So speak up. That’s a good gift too.

the best, period.

Let me end with this. As a young man I always wondered what my purpose in life was. From the day I was born until October 5th, 1987 I didn’t have any idea why I existed. At 1:23 pm on that day my purpose was discovered. Jessica Bunge was born. It was as easy as 1,2,3. Who knew? A couple of years later Morgan Bunge joined the club. Fatherhood was and is as natural to me as anything I  have ever done. It is why I am here. The sight of how my kids have turned out takes my breath away. Just like the sight of their mother used to. Have a happy Father’s Day everyone!   

P.S. Most of my “Drawer Gifts” were given to me by my son. Also, I may have mentioned in passing at some moment I would like to try painting (don’t want to piss my editor off).

Jess again. The first time I read this I both laughed to myself and, of course, cried at the end. Then again I’m a real sap, but a sap that was pretty excited to share a little bit of ole Les Bunge with you all. I mean he’s the man that built THE BENCH. I hope that there was at least one idea for those of you shopping for your dads, grandfathers, stepfathers, and/or father figures in your life. And we have a few weeks! So don’t be like I’ve been nearly every single year and stress out, wanting to somehow show this crazy great man how grateful I am for him. I guess I should have always just kept it simple:)

Love you, mean it. (This phrase was actually on a card he got me years ago and I love that it’s both hilarious and heartfelt. That’s why I end every post with it.)

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2 years ago

Les! Thanks for sharing your voice! Great ideas too. Have a great Father’s Day!

2 years ago

Beautiful post- smiling and crying!!! I think he could write another blog – post!

2 years ago

this was the cutest! thank you for sharing <3

2 years ago

I lost both of my parents seven years ago, when I was 28. This post put such a smile on my face! Les reminds me of my own dad, a prison warden who also liked flowers, musicals, and picking out jewelry for my mom. He was also 40 when I was born. I bet he and Les would have gotten along well. Thank you!!!

2 years ago

Geez, this got me in the feels! Some great ideas and some of the most enjoyable & beautiful writing I’ve read in a while. I also think the bench is one of the best DIYs ever.

2 years ago

This was amazing. I laughed and cried. Thank you so much for sharing your voice and gift ideas with all of us, Les! You’re a wonderful writer and no doubt a wonderful father. Happy early Father’s Day to you!

2 years ago

That picture! The overalls, the tool belt, the goggles, the hat…so cute!

2 years ago

Beautiful! And thank you!

2 years ago

Lucky child, to have Les for a father. Wonderful human and wonderful writer. Thanks for this today!

2 years ago

My husband bought this Ryobi cherger thing the other day for himself at Home Depot and he literally can’t stop raving about it.;

2 years ago
Reply to  Kj

I don’t know what people are doing these days, but all through these first few months of 2021 I’ve been seeing power inverters mentioned again and again around my favorite interweb watering holes. Dudes are generally raving about how it saved the day, saved their hair from being pulled out, etc. If you are going to do whatever it is people are doing to their homes and then having a crisis during, getting the power inverter before you start sounds like a good idea.

2 years ago

Great Father’s Day blog post! Made me laugh and cry. And gave me ideas too for the hubby.

E E Deere
2 years ago

This is stellar. Any list with Home Depot links is on the right track! I’m keeping it for present ideas for my sons.

2 years ago

So charming and practical and such great ideas! Jess and Les, you’re lucky to have each other!

2 years ago

THIS IS SO CUTE :’) i love you jess (and les by default)!

Pamela J James
2 years ago

Please thank your dad for the great gift ideas! Even though my dad is no longer with me, I buy for both my sons because I want to tell them how proud I am of the fathers they have become. I’ll use Les’ list for sure this year!

2 years ago

This was so fun to read, I think I need one of the car jumpers for myself.

Every year I struggle on what to get my dad since he really does not fit into the “dad box”. If any of you have ideas for an IOS developer father who goes to burning man and buys floor length fake fur coats to wear at Christmas, send them my way.

Annie K
2 years ago
Reply to  Alex


2 years ago
Reply to  Annie K

Lol probably although feels like a weird gift to get? Although it’s legal and I buy him wine so I guess what the difference?

2 years ago
Reply to  Alex

Does your dad have any What the Duck? stuff yet? My husband likes that along with xkcd for the funny programmer stuff. I don’t usually get any of the jokes myself. 🙂 Has your dad ever framed any of his pictures from burning man? (or even, like, gotten them printed – they are probably backed up on a hard drive and never seen!) If he hasn’t, see if he has pictures of a favorite moment or people and get it framed. You can also buy pictures of burning man taken by other attendees that are the photojournalism style – like candid family photos, but by a pro who knows what they are doing. You can get some wonderful, intimate moments that attendees will resonate with but aren’t the marketing photos everyone knows.

Roberta Davis
2 years ago

Awwww! And I love all the Chicago stuff. My kind of town. Thanks for the insights and ideas! (My husband has one World’s Greatest Father mug!)

2 years ago

Wow. The tears I am shedding right now. What a Dad! “Easy as 1,2,3″…dead. Loved the list, love Les more. He’s a special guy.

2 years ago

Les is a jewel. Great and helpful post, you are a lucky girl to have him.

2 years ago

This might be my fav StylebyEmikyHenderson post of all time. So much love. Happy early Father’s Day to Les!

2 years ago

Les! You. Made. Me. Cry. Joy. Tears!!! 😘
Your love for your kids (and late wife) is tangible snd absolutely evident in those phoyos.
This is a terrific post, love your practical, matter-of-fact writing style. Thank you!

Jess, it’s a wonder you didn’t become a GC!🤣

Great list of ideas. I, too, love a Ryobi. My hedge trimmers, lawn mower, etc. are all Ryobi.

Great dad = great Jess! 😊

2 years ago

Eyes glistening with that closing, while laughing about the front and back of tshirts and tools that I’ve never seen before. Thank you Mr. Bunge!

Samantha Deitch
2 years ago

I LOVE THIS. Really helpful perspective and generally lovely to read all around. Make Mr. Bunge a regular guest contributor!

2 years ago

Wow, this is the sweetest post, really love it!

2 years ago

Jess, you made me cry in the opener and ending. And Les, your love of your kids and your wife also got me. There are some great choices here. I need to go back and click each link, but I think that car battery charger is a definite must have. Thank you for a wonderful post!

2 years ago

Les shared not only a good list of Father’s Day gifts, he shared a great lesson about Fatherhood. Being present. All love. All the time. Acceptance. Priceless gifts for any child…of any age.

You’re a good man, Les. And clearly, a terrific father. Happy Dad’s Day.

2 years ago

What a great post!!! I feel like it’s an excellent Father’s Day gift guide if I have to google what the tools are and what they do!

2 years ago

This was my favorite post of this year— heartfelt and helpful.

2 years ago

There goes the mascara! Wow. So many laughs and tears. Beautiful, helpful, hopeful post.
Les – Thanks for the neat and unique ideas (not your typical gift guide – so much better!) and even more for sharing your writing with us. Your wife was very blessed to be so loved. And your kids to grow up with a Dad whose favourite thing was being with his family… wow.
Jess – Thank you for sharing your Dad with us! Now I will always smile at your sign-off 🙂
EHD – GREAT call to publish this, though it must have been a very easy decision haha! OBVIOUSLY we’re gonna need more Les going forward.

2 years ago

Thank you, Jess’ dad. This is literally the only Father’s Day post I’ve ever seen on this blog that I’ve actually purchased from. I love your perspective because it is similar to mine and basically 99.5% my spouse/father-of-my-littles’ perspective. Nothing against all “mens” posts prior to now, it’s just that Brian Henderson is not at all similar to the men who color my particular life. Amen, and round of applause today, blog and staff! I always feel like I’ve been hit with a dose of sunshine when I read Jess’ posts and now I see where she gets it from – it runs in the family!

2 years ago

Les, I have an awesome dad, but if I didn’t, I’d want a dad just like you. Happy Father’s Day!

2 years ago

Thank you, Mr. Bunge! You are a gift.

2 years ago

Great ideas and such a sweet post. You’re lucky to have each other! Dads are the best. Thanks, Les!

2 years ago

Love this post so much! Made me cry multiple times:) Hope he writes more in the future!

Rachel S
2 years ago

My heart! Oof this got me. I’m a new mom (how long can I say that? my daughter is almost 2) so I’m looking for tips for Father’s Day gifts for my husband now as well.
This was a joy to read. The ending just. Wow. What a special man. So beautiful.

2 years ago

What a great post! Awesome suggestions too! We got my FIL a multi tool as an early Father’s Day present and he looooves it. My dad always appreciates an In N out gift card as well 🙂

2 years ago

What a joy to read. And useful! Big thanks to Jess & her Dad!!

2 years ago

What a great voice. I love this post, laughing and crying at the same time. Thanks, Mr. B! Happy Father’s Day!

2 years ago

great post. But why is “older” in quotes. As an older woman, I’m puzzled.

Cici Haus
2 years ago

This was wonderful!! I have an “older” dad too and he seems so much like Les! Thanks for sharing your voice, Les!

2 years ago

I laughed and cried and appreciate the thoughtful sharing of feelings and ideas.

2 years ago

Jess, your father is adorable. Thank you for sharing him with us! That said, my father reads poetry, devours books about mythology and paints in his free time so most of this gift guide is not suited to him, ha! But I’d love to find a cool picture of us to print that he can have at home and I think he’d love a picnic. Thanks for that idea! And Happy Father’s Day Lester!

Patti Schultz
2 years ago

This was incredible! Truly helpful and also so funny and endearing. Please feature Les again.❤️

Lynn W
2 years ago

Best post recently!!! Jess, I love hearing your Dad’s voice. We love to give usable, edible or experiences too!
Of course, I cried as well…such a touching post 💜

2 years ago

Good lord, tears are streaming down my face. Jess is one of my favorite writers. Now I know why.

2 years ago

Love you, mean it, Les and Jess!! ❤️❤️

2 years ago

Definitely got teary, and had a “duh” moment of why have I never gotten my husband and father in law a round of golf, literally the perfect gift for them, so thanks for that too!!

Sarah Schafer
2 years ago

All the heart eyes for this post. You’re a lucky one to have such a loving dad.

2 years ago

More Les please! <3

2 years ago

Good lord. Loved this post and felt like I could hear him saying all these, clear as day. Being able to write in your actual voice is a true talent. Thank you, Les and Jess!!