Sad fact: Father's Day was kind of an afterthought.
For thousands of years, people have celebrated motherhood through springtime fertility rituals. When the holiday we call Mother's Day emerged in the early 20th century, it was just the latest manifestation of those festivities, and it was an instant hit.
Father's Day? Not so much. It debuted in 1910, but languished until its founder, Sonora Smart Dodd, rallied shop-owners in the 1930s. In the midst of the Great Depression, retailers were desperate for customers, and Father's Day proved just the thing to set cash registers humming.
But none of that history is especially important. No, there's only one thing you really need to know about Father's Day: it's this Sunday, June 17, so you've got just seven days to shop for dear old dad.
Lucky for you, we've picked out a handful of great Father's Day gifts to suit the needs of nearly any dad. (Unlike several we mentioned earlier that you should probably avoid.) If you're fortunate enough to still have a father -- especially one with a fondness for cars -- have a look at these ten picks, all of which you should be able to order online and receive before the big day.
Chevrolet wall clock
1. Branded gear: Various prices
Going with branded items from dad's favorite car line may seem like a cop-out, but have you taken a good look at the merchandise on display from automakers these days? It's not just baseball caps and t-shirts anymore: there's a whole range of items from Buick, Cadillac, Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, GMC, Jeep, Ram -- almost any marque on the market. (In fact, Ford just made some serious upgrades to its online store.) From apparel to auto accessories, there's something for every budget and taste. Our favorite item this year may be the Chevrolet wall clock ($119.95), which is perfect for giving dad's garage that professional touch, no matter how "professional" his repair skills really are.
Energizer 84020 12V All-In-One Jump-Start System with Built-In Air Compressor and Power Inverter
2. Portable jump-starter: $99.95
Yes, it's true: dad probably already has a pair of jumper cables stowed in the trunk. Heck, he probably has two -- he's dad, after all. But this handy kit kicks things up a notch, providing not only a jump-starter (no need to find a Good Samaritan when that battery fails), but also a power inverter and an air compressor, turning dad into the one-man A Team he's always dreamt of being.
HD HERO2 Motorsports Edition
3. HD HERO2 Motorsports Edition: $299.99
If you've got a father who's a fan of track days, he's likely the kind of guy who wants to capture his heroics on camera. The HERO2 is perfectly suited for the job -- and as an added bonus, you can sell any footage he doesn't like to World's Wackiest Car Stunts (or whatever passes for "history" on the History Channel these days). Other versions of the cam start at $150, so poke around to find the right one for your pop.
4. Joby Gorillamobile for iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S: $39.95
If you like the idea of the HERO2 but think it's too rich for your blood, invest in a tripod for dad's iPhone. There are plenty on the market, but this one features Joby's trademark "Gorilla" arms, meaning that it'll cling to almost anything -- a headrest, a rear-view mirror, a gun rack, whatever's handy. And since it relies on dad's existing iPhone, you won't have to teach him to use a new camera. That's a win-win.
Huxley sunglasses from Warby Parker
Even if dad isn't much of a speed demon, every father needs a respectable pair of sunglasses that he can stash above the visor. (Which he'll no doubt spend 10 minutes inspecting and polishing before starting up the car, but that's neither here nor there.) Sure, you could go for the obvious Ray Bans, but we prefer Warby Parker. The company has a huge range of stylish, afforable frames on sale, and unlike the ones you find at LensCrafters, most can handle prescription lenses. Even better? For every pair you buy, Warby Parker will donate a pair of eyeglasses to someone in need. Our personal fave: the Huxley, which is loaded with retro style -- just like dear ol' dad.
Speedometer & fuel gauge cuff links
French-cuffed shirts have seen a comeback in recent years, but to make the most of them, you need an awesome pair of cuff links. This pair, featuring speedometer and a fuel gauge, is rhodium-plated, so it'll never need polishing -- and it won't break the bank, either.
7. Big Skinny "The Curve" wallet: $24.95
Women may not know it, but thousands of men suffer pain in their shoulders, hips, and legs due to sitting on bulky billfolds. One of our staff found himself in such a predicament, and went in search of a slim, front-pocket wallet that would still allow him to carry all the credit cards, business cards, and other goop he needed to get through the day. After weeding through hundreds of options -- most of which looked like ugly money clips hot-glued to the sides of card cases -- he stumbled across Big Skinny, and it's been a lifesaver. "The Curve" is built from durable, lightweight nylon, and like dad's favorite tackle box, it can hold loads of junk without bulking up.
Ethanol molecule flask
8. Ethanol molecule flask: $12.99
Obviously, this one's not meant for dad to use while driving. However, for the truly geeky dad, nothing says "car nerd" like a stainless steel flask emblazoned with a diagram of the ethanol molecule.
EZOPower Portable Solar External Backup Battery Charger
9. Portable solar battery charger: $27.99
Whether we're using them to play tunes or get turn-by-turn directions, cell phones sit increasingly at the heart of today's driving experience. But of course, relying so heavily on those gadgets can drain their batteries lickety-split. Why not get dad a charger for his favorite smart phone or mp3 player? A solar model can sit on the dash or the passenger's seat, and unlike inverters that plug into a car's cigarette lighter, he can take it other places, too -- like to the office or on camping trips. The EZOPower model pictured above even comes with a flashlight, which can come in handy in emergencies. You know how dad loves a practical gift, right?
Dents Leather Driving Gloves
10. Driving gloves: $54.95
We know what you're thinking: "Didn't you just suggest a practical gift for dad? How practical are driving gloves?" And it's true: unless your dad is a professional race car driver, he could probably live without 'em. But isn't that what Father's Day is all about? Whether you give him a solar charger or a pair of cuff links, you're offering dad a gift he'd never buy for himself. Most fathers we know wouldn't spend money on driving gloves, but they sure do give 'em some longing looks in department stores. These short, simple gloves from Dents have a classic, century-old style. Plus, they look entirely badass. And believe us: dad's want to feel badass.
If you've got other good Father's Day gift suggestions, feel free to drop us a line, or leave a note in the comments below.