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May 20 2012

Dads and Grads Gift Ideas

It is the time of year when graduation announcements begin piling up on the desk in our kitchen. Family and friends and the occasional random person (is that Jimmy’s nephew?) send thinly veiled requests for presents with pretty pictures and fonts.

Oh yeah…what the heck are we going to get for Dad? Father’s Day is just around the corner and he already said that if we get him another tie then we can look for a new Father. I think he means it this time.

When I look back at my graduation so many hundreds of years ago it occurs to me that I still actually have one present that I got over 25 years ago and actually still use it, so there is a little bit of pressure to get it right…especially if you know who the grad is and actually like them.

So, I will take a turn at making a couple of recommendations for your gift giving that span the spectrum from “You really must love me!” to “Is this the best your could do?”

1. The Apple iPad Good for: Dads and Grads…really anybody!

The iPad is the ultimate gift and has supplanted the laptop as the choice thing to receive.

While the basic WiFi version can be had for $499, I think that upgrading to the 4G version is a smart move. While WiFi seems to be everywhere there are still places that a cellular connection is a lifesaver.

A gift recipient does not have to activate the cell connection but they have the option to if it is in the iPad. If your graduate is already planning a Euro summer after their escape from school I would narrowly choose the AT&T version over the Verizon version as they can get a data sim from a company like Three, T-Mobile or Vodaphone and have connectivity while they are taking the Eurail from place to place.

If $600+ is a bit of a stretch for your gift budget, Apple’s refurb store is a great place to pick up a bargain and Apple’s refurbs typically look just like new. Only the snobbiest graduate would quibble over receiving an iPad2 rather than a new iPad.

Unless Dad already owns an iPad he wants one…and if he doesn’t you can always borrow it from him!

Apple iPad $399- $829

2. Luggage Good for: Dads and Grads

Great luggage can last a lifetime and it is well worth spending additional money on it.

My favorite choice for luggage is Tom Bihn. This Seattle based company makes the best carry on luggage I have ever used right here in the USA. Ballistic nylon makes it light and very, very tough.

The Aeronaut is a maximum carry on piece that has just enough organization to parse your stuff out and enough open space to let you cram some very odd shaped bits into its cavernous middle. You can also trot out the backpack straps when you overload it to the point of hernia induction.

Smart enough for a business trip and flexible enough for a Summer abroad. Highly recommended and even better if paired with packing cubes!

Tom Bihn Aeronaut $240- packing cubes $15-$18

3. Laptop/iPad Carry Bag Good for: Dads and Grads

Dad has been carrying his iPad EVERYWHERE since he received it but he is a bit sensitive about those “murse” comments you have been making behind his back. He needs something that is subtle and masculine but carries his essentials with panache.

The WaterField VertiGo is a classic vertical messenger bag with subtle styling for the office but tough enough for Dad to throw in the trunk of the car. The zippered top keeps his kit secured and the detachable strap pad makes the weight of the world rest a bit easier on his shoulders. A couple of inside pockets help him keep his stuff straight but the big open section means he can keep his gym clothes in it if he needs to.

WaterField VertiGo $89-$119 based on size.

For your hipster graduate, a Rickshaw Bagworks Zero Messenger Bag is flexible and eco-friendly. Pick it in a tasteful tweed and it can go on a bike ride or into a job interview!

A horizontal messenger with a big open center section just begging to be filled up with books and pens for class or a laptop and files for a first day at work. Velco strips inside allow you to configure the organization with their range of drop in pockets and accesories.

Rickshaw Bags Medium Zero Messenger $89-$129

4. iPad Keyboard Case Good for: Grads

The range of cases and carry for the iPad are more than a little overwhelming. For a high school grad about to flee to the hallowed Ivy League halls you definitely know that there are significant amounts of notes to be taken.

A keyboard case for an iPad raises the level of functionality a step or three and my current favorite is the Adonit Writer+.

The Writer features a rechargeable battery, a really good keyboard and a minimal case to protect the iPad. It has almost no impact on the size of the iPad and a clever magnetic catch to keep it in typing position. It also has the same on and off trick that the Smart Cover pulls off saving battery time for a long day of class.

Adonit Writer Plus $99-$109

5. iPad Book Case Good for: Dads

If Dad is a little apprehensive about flaunting his iPad in front of the world a book style case is an excellent choice for lowering the “steal me” factor of the iPad.

My current favorite in this format is the Portenzo Wingtip Book Case.

It has the classic looks of a high-end hard back and wraps the iPad in protection while still giving you access to all the controls and ports. Add the Intellistand option if Dad likes to watch some movies or Skype you while he is off on business.

Portenzo Wingtip Case $75 to $100

6. Via Instant Coffee Good for: Grads

New college students are terribly short on two things: Time and sleep.

I refuse to encourage the Red Bull Phenomena so coffee will continue to be the caffeine delivery vehicle that I espouse.

Starbucks version of instant coffee is surprisingly good and perfectly portable. Stack your graduate up with enough pocketable coffee microgrounds to make it most of the way to Christmas!

Starbucks Via Multi Pack $29.50

7. George Foreman Nonstick Countertop Grill Good for: Grads

My family calls this the Smack Daddy. I have no idea why but I have learned that sometimes it is easier just to play along.

Perfect for taking dorm cooking to the next level the GF Grill makes good burgers and sandwiches and is unlikely to burn the building down.

George Foreman Grill $18.99

8. CharBroil Infrared Quantum Urban Grill Good for: Dads

Nothing says “man” quite like burning (I mean, cooking) meat over an open flame!

An Urban version of the grill gives Dad the opportunity to grill food without flare ups in a minimum of space. You can even add wood chips and lie about the fact that you are not grilling over charcoal!

CharBroil Urban Grill $299

9. Roku 2 XD Video Streaming Player Good for: Dads and Grads

Sorry for the detour. Back to the techie stuff.

Cable stinks. You know this…your graduate knows this. What to do?

Bail on it. Stream when you want, where you want with Hulu or NetFlix but tiny screens also stink.

Hand not included...

Roku gives you internet streaming audio straight to an HDMI output. Easy breezy, cancel Xfinity TV. 1080P output for your viewing pleasure. Internet still required…

Roku 2 XD $79

10. i’m Watch Jewel Good for: Dads and Grads (and the massively pretentious in general)

A custom forked Android wristwatch with connectivity to all major phone OS’s and lots of jewels.

In the US that period would be a comma...so just short of $20K

Bring up your text messages, post to FB, Tweet annoyingly and use the powerful speakerphone to avoid ever taking your BT equipped phone out of your pocket.

Actually the idea is pretty cool, and they have a slightly more reasonably priced version for $349 American if you like the idea…or if you have a really severe Dick Tracy fetish.

imwatch $349 to $19,999 (not a typo)

Congrats to all and a Happy Father’s day!

You could always break down and get them a gift certificate to Chick-fil-a…

1 comment

  1. Jeff Mac

    Thanks Matthew, I appreciate the input…bet Kim didn’t have a $20000 watch on her list!

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