25 Can't-Miss Father's Day Gift Ideas


Father’s Day is coming up fast. If the dads in your life are stingy about dropping gift-related hints, it's time to take matters into your own hands. Here are some shopping ideas to get you started.


Man in flannel holding travel mug.

If your dad is an experienced hiker, he already knows the importance of having the right tools on the trail. This air-tight mug is built for the mountains: The finger loop makes it easy to hold or clip onto a pack, and the grit guard keeps water free of contaminants. It also features a push-button lid so he can hydrate without breaking his stride.

Find it: Stanley, $30


Silver Pac Man and ghost cufflinks.

Help your dad look sharp while embracing his inner geek. These silver-colored cufflinks depict two of the most iconic characters in video games: Pac-Man and his ghost antagonist (whether it's Inky, Blinky, Pinky, or Clyde is hard to tell).

Find it: Amazon, $25


Cat looks at bird feeder through window.

On days when your dad doesn’t feel like getting off the couch, he can still indulge his bird-watching hobby indoors. All he needs is this one-way-mirror bird feeder. It can be filled with up to one pound of seeds after it's secured to the outside of a window. Birds stopping by to eat only see their reflection while the people indoors get to enjoy nature up close.

Find it: Amazon, $35


Magnetic ball draws patterns in the sand.

This zen garden requires zero effort to maintain—just plug it in, adjust the dials, and watch a magnetic ball etch mesmerizing patterns on its own. The machine can be programmed to create symmetrical mandalas or draw random shapes in the sand. It makes a soothing addition to any desk, coffee table, or nightstand.

Find it: ThinkGeek, $40


Whiskey tasting kit.

Does your dad treat a glass of quality whiskey like a piece of fine art? This is the gift for him. The tasting kit includes a glass, a pen, and booklets for jotting down notes on the peatiness of a 1987 bourbon or similar impressions. If your dad isn’t yet the aficionado he one day hopes to be, he can refer to the glossary of whiskey "terms demystified" in each book.

Find it: UncommonGoods, $30


Blue carry-on luggage.
Eagle Creek

Packing for your next family vacation will be a cinch with this luggage. It fits 36 liters of belongings and features extra panels, compartments, and outside straps for stuffing in as much as possible. Weighing less than five pounds empty, the compact bag fits perfectly into the overhead compartment of a plane—so your dad can travel the world without worrying about surprise checked-bag fees.

Find it: Eagle Creek, $183


Bird feeder attached to a window.

Being a dad is a stressful job. Cozying up with a neck wrap filled with flaxseed and lavender is one way to indulge in some much-needed rest and relaxation. This cushion can be heated up in the microwave to relieve muscle tension or chilled in the freezer to treat puffy eyes and migraines.

Find it: Amazon, $30


Gray plush gym towel

If your dad has been using the same ratty gym towel for years, it may be time for an upgrade. Each GoldFusion gym towel is infused with nanoparticles of real gold, which the makers claim gives the fabric quick-drying and odor-resistant properties. It’s also softer and silkier than any towel handed out in a gym.

Find it: Rhone, $29


Bolts and screws attracted to magnetic wristband.

Home improvement projects are frustrating enough—make the process a little easier with this magnetic wristband. After it's strapped on, the surface can hold screws, nails, drill bits, bolts, or whatever small metal parts your dad needs in a spot that’s easy to reach.

Find it: Amazon, $25


Box of jerky curing supplies.
Williams Sonoma

This kit makes a great weekend project for any meat lover. It includes a garlic pepper spice mixture and a cure made from saIt, sugar, and sodium nitrate. All your dad has to do is provide the beef and he’ll have a savory snack that lasts for months.

Find it: Williams Sonoma, $12


Smartphone camera remote.

No more setting up camera timers and racing to squeeze into the photo in time. With the Muku Shuttr, your dad can snap a photo on his smartphone when he’s standing across the room. The device connects to a phone or tablet via Bluetooth so users can press the button and activate the camera instantaneously. It’s perfect for family photos—or artistic selfies if that’s your dad’s style.

Find it: Amazon, $39


Pulling a pan from the oven with a Spock oven mitt.

Your dad can live long and prosper through his next cooking project with this oven mitt shaped like his favorite Star Trek greeting. Protecting his hands while holding hot pans definitely sounds logical.

Find it: ThinkGeek, $15


Equation clock

Math geeks should have fun with this sadistic timepiece. Each number on the face is presented as a roundabout equation. If losing track of time is a concern, the clock does come with a cheat sheet.

Find it: UncommonGoods, $30


Pouring coffee from a cold brew infusion bottle

Instead of spending $4 on iced coffee from a cafe, your dad can brew his own at home with this infusion bottle. After it’s filled with water and ground coffee, the bottle sits for 12 hours in the fridge. In the morning, simply remove the built-in coffee filter and pour the drink into a glass or mug. Cold brew tastes smoother than hot coffee, but it’s also stronger—so remind your dad to dilute it to avoid a caffeine overload.

Find it: ThinkGeek, $20


Desktop version of a bowling alley.

With these desktop games your dad will forget he’s at work—at least briefly. Each box comes with all the miniature sports gear needed to play an actual game. Whether your dad prefers golf, pool, or bowling, there’s a tabletop set for him.

Find it: ThinkGeek, $15


Titanium and hardwood sunglasses

Here’s how you can convince your dad to finally ditch his plastic drugstore sunglasses: Buy him this pair from Shwood. The frame is cut from light-weight, vacuum-plated titanium. The arms that extend past the temples are made of hardwood—the maker’s signature touch.

Find it: Shwood, $189


Backgammon board

It would be a crime to let this backgammon set collect dust on a shelf. Crafted from real wood and brass with hand-printed designs, this game is meant to be taken out and shown off. The board folds up into a convenient traveling case, making it a great option for the beach, the park, or an extended rest stop during long road trips.

Find it: UncommonGoods, $120


Supplies in shaving kit.
Wet Shave Club

Personal grooming doesn’t have to be a chore. A subscription with the Wet Shave club comes with monthly boxes of shaving supplies your dad will be eager to test out. Packages include blades, soaps, aftershaves, and other pampering products that vary month to month.

Find it: Wet Shave Club, $50 for first box


Beer bottle in granite coaster.

Lukewarm beers have met their match. These coasters, hand-carved from New Hampshire granite, are built to keep bottles cool. Just store them in the fridge and pull them out when when it’s time to crack open a frosty beverage. The stone keep drinks chilled for up to 30 minutes.

Find it: UncommonGoods, $68


Darth Vader "World's Greatest Dad" sock.

Hopefully your Father’s Day is less awkward than Luke Skywalker’s. These officially licensed Star Wars socks fit men’s shoe sizes 6 through 12.

Find it: Amazon, $12


Poster charting baseball team names.
Pop Chart Lab

Ever wonder how many baseballs teams are named after royalty (11) or punctuation marks (two) or meteorological phenomena (15)? In this ambitious poster, Pop Chart Lab traces the etymologies of close to 600 major, minor, and international baseball teams. It goes beyond popular favorites like the Philadelphia Phillies to include slightly more obscure teams like the Holyoke Paperweights.

Find it: Pop Chart Lab, $29


Earbuds wrapped around leather detangler.

Give your dad the gift of tangle-free earbuds. Cords coil smoothly around this compact accessory and stay snapped in place. The wrap is made of durable leather, so it can survive long stretches of time spent banging around your dad’s pocket or desk drawer.

Find it: Amazon, $7


Books with katana book ends.

If you're hesitant to buy your samurai-obsessed dad a real katana, this playful set is a safe alternative. Magnets and metal bookends tucked within the books given the sword the illusion of stabbing straight through to the other side. Thankfully no literature was harmed in the making of this gift.

Find it: Amazon, $19


Portable Bluetooth speaker.

Thanks to Bluetooth technology, your dad can listen to his favorite tunes in high quality no matter where he is. The Wonderboom from Ultimate Ears delivers loud, clean sound up to 100 feet away from the signal. It’s also waterproof, which makes it the obvious choice for a day at the beach.

Find it: Ultimate Ears, $100


Camping hammock.

A camping hammock offers all the serenity of sleeping under the stars without the hard ground or dirty sleeping bag. The nylon parachute material is strong enough to hold 600-pound loads and light enough to carry on long hikes. But if your dad doesn't have any camping trips planned, there’s nothing stopping him from setting it up in the backyard, perhaps for some eclipse action later this summer.

Find it: Amazon, $19

7 Things You Might Not Know About Mario Lopez

Angela Weiss, Getty Images for Oakley
Angela Weiss, Getty Images for Oakley

While several of the actors featured in the 1990s young-adult series Saved by the Bell have fared well following the show’s end in 1994, Mario Lopez is in a class by himself. The versatile actor-emcee can be seen regularly on Extra, as host of innumerable beauty pageants, and as the author of several best-selling books on fitness. For more on Lopez, check out some of the more compelling facts we’ve rounded up on the multi-talented performer.


Born on October 10, 1973, in San Diego, California to parents Mario and Elvia Lopez, young Mario was initially the picture of health. But things quickly took a turn for the worse. In his 2014 autobiography, Just Between Us, Lopez wrote that he began having digestive problems immediately after birth, shrinking to just four pounds. Though doctors administered IV hydration, they told his parents nothing more could be done. Desperate, his father reached out to a witch doctor near Rosarito, Mexico who had cured his spinal ailments years earlier. The healer mixed a drink made of Pedialyte, Carnation evaporated milk, goat’s milk, and other unknown substances. It worked: Lopez kept it down and began growing, so much so that his mother declared him “the fattest baby you had ever seen in your life.”


A highly active kid who got involved in both tap and jazz dancing and amateur wrestling, Lopez was spotted by a talent scout during a dance competition at age 10 and was later cast in a sitcom, a.k.a. Pablo, in 1984. That led to a role in the variety show Kids Incorporated and in the 1988 Sean Penn feature film Colors. In 1989, at the age of 16, he won the role of Albert Clifford “A.C.” Slater in Saved by the Bell. By 1992, Lopez was making public appearances at malls, where female fans would regularly toss their underthings in his direction.


Lopez wrestled as an amateur throughout high school. According to the Chula Vista High School Foundation, Lopez was a state placewinner at 189 pounds in 1990. (On Saved by the Bell, Slater was also a wrestler.) He later complemented his grappling ability with boxing, often sparring professionals like Jimmy Lange and Oscar De La Hoya in bouts for charity. In 2018, Lopez posted on Instagram that he received his blue belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu under Gracie Barra Glendale instructor Robert Hill.


Lopez’s active lifestyle has made for a trim physique, but he’s apparently unwilling to take off more than his shirt. In 2008, Lopez said he was approached to pose for Playgirl but declined. The magazine reportedly offered him $200,000.


Lopez had a well-publicized marriage to actress Ali Landry, but not for all the right reasons. The two were married in April 2004 and split just two weeks later, with Landry alleging Lopez had not been faithful. Lopez later disclosed he had made a miscalculation during his bachelor party in Mexico, cheating on Landry just days before the ceremony.


Lopez joined the cast of Broadway’s A Chorus Line in 2008, portraying Zach, the director who coaches the cast of aspiring dancers. (It was his first stage appearance since he participated in a grade school play, where he played a tree.) His run, which lasted five months, was perceived to be part of a rash of casting choices on Broadway revolving around hunky performers to attract audiences. The role was thought to be the start of a resurgence for Lopez, who had previously appeared on Dancing with the Stars and has been a co-host of the pop culture newsmagazine show Extra since 2007.


In 2010, Lopez and then-girlfriend (now wife) Courtney Mazza had their first child, Gia. According to Lopez, his French bulldog, Julio César Chavez Lopez, exhibited signs of depression following the new addition to the household. Lopez also said he used his extensive knowledge of dogs to better inform his voiceover work as a Labrador retriever in 2009’s The Dog Who Saved Christmas and 2010’s The Dog Who Saved Christmas Vacation.

The Rise and Fall of 5 Claimed Mediums

Boston Public Library // Public Domain
Boston Public Library // Public Domain

In the late 19th and early 20th century, spiritualism was all the rage. People were looking for answers and comfort after the Civil War, so they turned to mediums and séances for spiritual guidance. The religious movement had such a pull that even Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was a believer. Despite its popularity, many debunkers argued that it had little legitimacy—alleged mediums were con artists who took advantage of the emotionally vulnerable and drained them of all their funds. Perhaps most surprising of all is that what turned into an enormous religious following started out as a simple prank pulled by two preteen girls.


The Fox Sisters
Emma Hardinge Britten, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

In late March of 1848, Margaret Fox, a farmer’s wife living in Hydesville, New York, with her daughters, began to hear noises. These knocking sounds, she decided, could not have been human and certainly were not produced by her children. The mysterious banging became so maddening that she invited her neighbor in to hear for herself. Although skeptical, the neighbor humored the woman and huddled into a small room with Margaret and her two young girls, Maggie and Kate. The mother would ask questions that would be answered with a series of knocks, or as they would later be called, “rappings.” By the end of the night, both the mother and neighbor were convinced that Maggie and Kate were mediums, with the ability to communicate with the other side.

Soon their older sister, Leah Fox Fish, in Rochester, New York, got involved. Hearing of the girls’ otherworldly “powers,” the eldest sister saw dollar signs and promptly booked sessions for people looking to communicate with the dead. Their act took off, and soon the girls were touring the country. Maggie eventually found love while on the road, and settled down with an adventurer named Elisha Kent Kane. Kane convinced her to give up spiritualism, which she did until his untimely death in 1857. Meanwhile, Kate married a fellow spiritualist and fine-tuned her act. She was so successful in her deception that respected chemist William Crookes wrote in The Quarterly Journal of Science in 1874 that he thoroughly tested Kate and was convinced the sounds were true occurrences and not a form of trickery.

The façade went on for decades, until 1888 when Maggie finally spoke up. After her husband had died, she was left penniless and alone, and had turned to drinking. She wrote a letter to the New York World confessing her and her sister’s trickery prior to a demonstration at the New York Academy of Music. “I have seen so much miserable deception! Every morning of my life I have it before me. When I wake up I brood over it. That is why I am willing to state that Spiritualism is a fraud of the worst description,” she wrote.

She then explained that the mysterious thumping was the result of an apple tied to a string that the sisters would drop to torment their mother. At the New York Academy of Music, with her sister Kate in the audience, Maggie demonstrated her tricks to a raucous crowd of skeptics and staunch believers. She put her bare foot on a stool and showed how she could bang the stool with her big toe, producing the famous rapping noise. The Spiritualist world took a hit, but continued to persist. The same could not be said for the Fox sisters' careers. Although Maggie recanted her confession a year later—likely due to her poverty—the sisters were never trusted again and they both died penniless.


Photograph of the Davenport Brothers in front of their spirit cabinet
Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

The Fox sisters may have burned out by the end of their career, but that didn't stop a slew of copy-cats and spin-off performers. Ira and William Davenport of Buffalo, New York, were inspired by the rappings of the Fox sisters and decided to try a session of their own with their father. Their session was so chilling (they would later claim their sister actually levitated) that they decided to make a show. In 1855, 16-year-old Ira and 14-year-old William got on stage for the first time. With the help of their spirit guide, a ghost named Johnny King, they performed a number of elaborate tricks that went past simple rappings; often bells, cabinets, ropes, and floating instruments would be utilized in the performance. Members of the audience would swear they saw instruments fly over their heads, or feel ghostly hands on their shoulders. The brothers were heralded as true mediums and enjoyed fame for the rest of their professional careers. After William passed away in 1877, Ira gave up the medium business for a quieter life.

He was not heard from again until magician Harry Houdini sought him out years later. The two became friends and Ira let him in on a few of his tricks, including one called "The Tie Around the Neck" that not even Ira’s children knew. The surviving Davenport told Houdini all about the tricks and trouble that went into keeping their secret, including reserving the front row for their friends and hiring numerous accomplices. Interestingly, some of their greatest tricks didn’t involve any work. Reports of flying instruments and mysterious sensations were purely delusions of the audience members. “Strange how people imagine things in the dark! Why, the musical instruments never left our hands yet many spectators would have taken an oath that they heard them flying over their heads,” Davenport told Houdini.


A photo of Eva Carrière regurgitating ectoplasm
Boston Public Library // Public Domain

Now armed with the secrets of the Davenport Brothers, as well as his own experiences as a medium in his younger days, Houdini set out to expose fraudulent mediums throughout the 1920s. He had initially believed that although it was all fake, it didn't harm anyone. The death of his mother made him realize the harm these fraudsters were really doing, and so Houdini set out to reveal their tricks. One such huckster was Eva Carrière.

As detailed in Houdini’s book, A Magician Among the Spirits, Carrière was a medium known for her ability to produce a mysterious substance called ectoplasm from a number of orifices. Carrière, with the help of her assistant and alleged lover Juliette Bisson, would be stripped down and searched to prove there was nothing on her person. She would then let Bisson put her in a trance, where Houdini said he was certain she was truly asleep. After some time, she would conjure up ectoplasm from her mouth that looked “like a colored cartoon and seemed to have been unrolled.” Houdini left feeling underwhelmed and unconvinced.

Still, Carrière seemed to hold many in her trance. A researcher named Albert von Schrenck-Notzing spent several years—1909 to 1913—working with her, and by the end, he was completely convinced. He published his findings and photographs in his book Phenomena of Materialisation. Ironically, this book ended up being Carrière's undoing: A skeptic named Harry Price wrote that the pictures proved that the faces seen in the medium’s ectoplasm were actually regurgitated cut-outs from the French magazine Le Miroir.


Ann O’Delia Diss Debar had gone through many monikers and identities in her lifetime, but according to Houdini [PDF], she started as Editha Salomen, born in Kentucky in 1849 (others claim she was named Delia Ann Sullivan and born in 1851). She left home at 18 and somehow convinced the high society of Baltimore that she was of European aristocracy. “Where the Kentucky girl with her peculiar temperament and characteristics could possibly have secured the education and knowledge which she displayed through all her exploits I am at a loss to understand,” Houdini wrote. Regardless, Salomon was extremely successful in her con artistry and managed to cheat Baltimore’s wealthiest out of a quarter million dollars. Claiming that funds were tied up in foreign banks, it was easy to drain potential suitors out of money and luxury.

After a quick stint at an insane asylum for trying to kill a doctor, Salomen took up hypnotism and married a man of slow wit named General Diss Debar. As Ann O’Delia Diss Debar and a general’s wife (although modern scholarship says that he wasn't a general and they weren't ever actually married), she found that people were eager to trust her. She took advantage of this trust when she met a successful lawyer named Luther R. Marsh, who had just lost his wife. After convincing him that she was a skilled medium, Diss Debar persuaded him to turn over his home on Madison Avenue, which she then turned into a spiritualistic temple and successful business. The swindler created spirit paintings, which, through sleight of hand, seemed to appear out of nowhere on blank canvases, as if the spirits painted them.

These paintings eventually landed Diss Debar in legal trouble when Marsh invited the press to come and see them. In 1888, the so-called medium was hauled into court for deceiving Marsh and swindling him out of house and home. Many testified against Diss Debar, including her own brother, but the most convincing participant was professional Carl Hertz, who was called in to disprove her trickery. With ease, he replicated each of Diss Debar’s tricks, and performed some that not even she could do. Satisfied that the woman was a fraud, the state incarcerated her for six months at Blackwell’s Island (now Roosevelt Island).

Despite all this, Marsh continued to believe in spiritualism. Unfortunately for Diss Debar, he seemed like the only one—she attempted to resurrect her career, but was unsuccessful, later being hauled back into court for charges of debt a year after her release. She traveled between London and America for years, going in and out of prison, before finally disappearing for good in 1909.

As Houdini put it harshly:

“Ann O’Delia Diss Debar’s reputation was such that she will go down in history as one of the great criminals. She was no credit to Spiritualism; she was no credit to any people, she was no credit to any country—she was one of these moral misfits which every once in awhile seem to find their way into the world. Better for had she died at birth than to have lived and spread the evil she did.”


Mina Crandon in 1924
Malcolm Bird, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

In the 1920s, Mina Crandon (also known as Margery, or the Blonde Witch of Lime Street) was one of the most well-known and controversial mediums of her time. Born in Canada to a farmer, Margery moved to Boston and took up a number of careers, working as a secretary, an actress, and an ambulance driver. After divorcing her first husband, she married Dr. Le Roi Goddard Crandon, a surgeon who studied at Harvard. It was the doctor who introduced her to spiritualism and eventually led her down the path to becoming a medium.

Margery was a friendly, pretty woman, but the ghost of her brother Walter was much less charming. The medium would conjure his spirit, who would then rap out messages, tip over tables, and yell at the participants. Often ectoplasm would ooze from her ears, nose, mouth, and dress. The mysterious substance sometimes took the form of a hand and supposedly rang bells or touched the participants. Her performance was so convincing that it attracted the Boston elite and even Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. As her popularity soared, her prayers were even read by the U.S. Army.

In 1923, Harry Houdini joined a panel of scientists formed by The Scientific American to find a true medium. The prize for convincing them was $5000. The panel was quite convinced with Margery and was gearing up to give her the money for her legitimacy. Houdini wanted to take a look at the medium for himself, and in 1924, headed to Boston.

When the séance began, Houdini sat next to Margery with their hands joined and feet and legs touching. Earlier that day, the skeptic had worn a bandage around his knee all day, making it extremely sensitive to the touch. The heightened sensitivity helped him feel Margery move as she used her feet to grab various props during the act. After figuring out the scheme, Houdini was convinced of the fraud and wanted to go public. Despite his confidence, the rest of the panel remained uncertain, putting off the decision. By October, The Scientific American published an article explaining the panel was hopelessly divided. The hesitation angered both Houdini and Margery’s spirit. “Houdini, you goddamned son of a bitch,” Walter screamed. "Get the hell out of here and never come back. If you don't, I will."

By November, Houdini circulated a pamphlet called Houdini Exposes the Tricks Used by the Boston Medium "Margery." He then put on performances recreating Margery’s tricks for the amusement of skeptics. Humiliated and without prize money, Margery made a prediction in 1926. “Houdini will be gone by Halloween,” Walter declared. Coincidentally, Houdini did die that October 31 from peritonitis.

Margery and her prickly ghost brother may have gotten the last laugh, but by 1941, her reputation was in ruins from Houdini’s mockery. Still, she never confessed to her trickery, even on her deathbed.

Additional sources: Houdini, Harry. A Magician Among the Spirits. New York: Arno, 1972.

This story originally ran in 2015.