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Give It Up For Dad

Dads come in all shapes and sizes. But each is still one of a kind! We rounded up five kinds of dads for Father’s Day (June 19) and asked experts with similar interests — all dads themselves — to provide fun ideas to celebrate him family style. Recognize anyone?

By Lambeth Hochwald | null , null

Lives in his jersey. Bought a baseball mitt for baby while she was still in the womb. When not watching Super Bowl reruns, he’s coaching soccer.

1. Get into golf. The U.S. Open (the golf event of the year) falls on Father’s Day. Watch the tournament with Dad or get him to teach you his signature stroke. All you need is the club, a ball, and an empty can turned on its side.
2. Tailgate — in the driveway. Pop open the trunk, fill the cooler, whip out the folding chairs. Grill sliders and stick toothpick flags in them with the colors of Dad’s favorite team. Host your own sporting event (catch, a soccer match, etc.).
3. Color-customize his gift. If he’s a candy fan, for example, you can order M&Ms ( or Jelly Belly jellybeans ( in his team’s colors. Making him breakfast? Choose foods in those hallowed hues — like blueberries and yogurt (blue and white) if he’s a Dallas Cowboys fan.

Expert: Mike Greenberg, co-host of ESPN’s Mike & Mike in the Morning

King of the grill. Polishes his BBQ tools biweekly. An iron chef in the kitchen, too. Has more bottles of sauce in the pantry than hairs on his head.

1. Serve him a man’s breakfast in bed.
Make it macho — say, spicy breakfast burritos, crispy bacon, and a heap of eggs. Don’t forget a strong cup of coffee and the newspaper. Bonus: Pop a Vin Diesel flick into the DVD player.
2. Pack the ultimate picnic. Give Dad a blank piece of paper a few days before Father’s Day and ask him to describe his ideal al fresco meal. Once everything’s prepped, head to the park or beach. Bring along a pillow so Dad can nap after his feast, and it’ll be the day of his dreams.
3. Dash and dine. Add a side of exercise to your celebratory meal by choosing a restaurant within walking distance or taking a walk in the park first. Then, go ahead and order dessert — you earned it!

Expert: James Briscione, chef, founder of the blog, and author of Just Married and Cooking: 200 Recipes for Living, Eating, and Entertaining Together

Can dial, download, and drive at the same time (but doesn’t). Texts his kids — while on the couch next to them. Likes to show others how the remote works. 

1. Build a robot together. There are lots of ways to do it at a variety of cost levels. LEGO Mindstorms NXT kits, while pricey ($280), are amazing ways to create sophisticated machines with specialized sensors and programming. Or you might make a robot out of packing materials and shoeboxes as a family art project.
2. Create a drive-in movie. Using some simple materials (such as PVC and canvas) you can make a DIY outdoor projection screen. (You can also simply hang up a sheet on the garage wall.) Borrow that LCD projector from work, use your laptop and some portable speakers, and invite the neighbors over.
3. Visit a science museum. It’s a great way to have fun while helping instill curiosity in the whole family. If you don’t have a hands-on museum near you, see if there’s a TechShop in your area — these are large workshops where you can rent tools and workspace and take classes to learn about making all kinds of gadgets and toys.

Expert: Ken Denmead, author of Geek Dad and The Geek Dad’s Guide to Weekend Fun

Lives for weekend repairs. On a first-name basis with hardware store owners in three counties. Loves the smell of lumber.

1. Build a simple toolbox. As an 8-year-old, my grandfather bought me a set of small carpenter tools. The first thing we used them for was building a toolbox out of plywood and a big dowel. I still have — and use — that toolbox.
2. Go to a flea market. Admission is usually cheap (or free), and few things are more fun for handy dads than browsing through a ragtag collection of tools and home repair gear. If you’re lucky, you might find antique and vintage tools you can use as decorations around the house or on the wall next to Dad’s tool bench.
3. Write and illustrate an “imaginary tools” guide together. What kinds of tools and gadgets would you love to see invented? What might they look like? No holds barred!

Expert: Steve Elliott, author of The Portable Dad: Fix-It Advice for When Dad’s Not Around;

Serial map collector.  Knows every trail within a 50-mile radius of home. Garage stuffed with backpacks, tents, bikes, paddles . . .

1. Take him on an imagination hike. Choose a local trail or a nearby park, or come up with a simple route around your backyard. Create your own map of the pathway you’ll follow, including imaginary caves where monsters live and more. Guide the way, telling stories as you go.
2. Plan a scavenger hunt. Stash clues around the house, yard, and neighborhood. The prize could be a “coupon” for an outdoor activity the whole family does together.
3. Quiz him. Create an “I’m in the Mood For” quiz that Dad can fill out while he has his coffee. Questions like “What outdoor setting strikes your fancy today?” with multiple-choice answers such as “mountains, water, woods” will help determine what you do together for the day.

Expert: Jeff Alt, author of the award-winning book A Walk for Sunshine: A 2,160 Mile Expedition for Charity on the Appalachian Trail

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