Stumped for a Father’s Day gift? Try some zen.

Dads need yoga too

Mother’s Day gifts have a way of encouraging Mom to relax. You know — flowers, bubble bath, maybe decadent massage therapy. And why not? Moms do the hard work in the birthing department. But Dad gifts? It’s all about tech toys and power tools for some reason. Not to mention those striped ties.

This year, how about dedicating Father’s Day to helping Dad take a few deep breaths? More and more evolved Dads are getting into “mindfulness” — which emphasizes trying to stay in the present moment. That generally means no Wifi (unless it’s an online meditation),  power cords or mobile dust extractors. Yes, Dad may need a little convincing on a few of these Zen Father’s Day gifts, but it’s all in the name of evolution. Some men just don’t quite know what they’re missing. 

For example, a bonsai tree means Dad can do some gardening without ever leaving the house. Not familiar with the ancient art of bonsai? They are trees that can often grow indoors. For those of you not on the bonsai bandwagon, the whole point is to mimic the size and shape of a normal tree — only now, Dad can keep it on his desk. Bonsai trees, by their very nature, inspire quiet contemplation. You can easily find desk-friendly trees that stand between 10 and 14 inches tall.

Bonsai tree at U.S. National Arboretum in Washington
A bonsai tree gift can help dads relax on Father’s Day. (Photo: Evan McClain)

Creating art is another well-known stress reliever even though it sounds intimidating. Is Dad really ready to make his own masterpiece from a blank canvas? Unlikely — and let’s not add to his to-do list at the moment . But he might go for a paint-by-numbers kit. This could be the start of a very cool hobby that might last decades. 

Giving experiences as Father’s Day gifts

So can things like yoga and meditation. That’s right. Take a deep breath: We’re about to coerce (meaning gently persuade) Dad to sign up for a yoga class. His first meager objection? “But I don’t have yoga clothes.” Try getting him a T-shirt that perhaps features the universal mantra “Om,” which represents the union of mind, body and spirit at the heart of yoga. Tell him not to worry. Plenty of other dudes do yoga classes — the majority of whom are in amazing physical shape. Yoga’s tough, but the benefits are endless.

He might even wind up meditating. Buy him a Buddha meditation bracelet as a reminder that Dads need time to recharge. Like yoga, simple mindfulness meditation practices have no downside. There are endless meditation phone apps to get him started. Try Headspace, Calm and Insight Timer.

A group of Peruvian men knitting
A group of Peruvian men prove that knitting’s for everyone. (Photo: Franck Camhi)

Since you’ve decided to gently persuade Dad into unknown territory, this might be the perfect time to bring up the “k-word”: knitting. Yes, men do take part in one of the most zen activities imaginable that doesn’t require incense or candles. If your father’s not ready to knit, he’s probably ready to at least read about knitting. If so, expert knitter Nathan Taylor has written the ultimate book — Guys Knit.

“I want to challenge the commonly held “misperception” that knitting is a feminine pursuit,” says Taylor. “Guys Knit is a beginner’s guide to knitting, and it is aimed specifically at men.” 

Finally, a guy needs some treats after a hard day of bonsai trees, yoga and knitting. Let’s make sure Dad’s not filling himself up with empty calories even when  he reaches for a chocolate bar. Remember, he does have choices in the candy department. Not all chocolate bars contain high sugar. In fact, dark chocolate’s more popular than ever. Buy your sweet father some not-so-sweet bars with a very high cacao percentage. Like above 70%. When the cacao gets this intense, chocolate’s an entirely different experience. You can even find vegan bars that contain only cane sugar, chocolate liquor and cocoa butter. It’s practically a dad health food. Dark chocolate can also fight heart disease and increase brain function.

Men do need time to reclaim some quiet space — both in the world and in their own heads. And who knows? You might even get a nice sweater out of this deal.