Father’s Day Gifts and Activities on a Budget

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Father’s Day is coming up in a few short weeks and you are probably wondering how to whip up a great celebration of this holiday that your kids and family will enjoy — but without breaking the bank!  Here are some ideas for Father’s Day activities and gifts that are fun, family-friendly and allow the kids to participate actively in the gift-giving and part preparation. What’s even better is that these suggestions will all fit into even a modest home budget.

Homemade Gifts

You don’t have to spend a ton of money to be able to give that father in your family a gift that will mean a lot emotionally. Below are some great ideas for homemade presents that you and your kids can make for the dad in your life. Just try these projects listed below.

Handprint Plaques

Few things are more effective than a recording of your child’s handprints to remind a father later on at just how small his children once were. And these plaques are amazingly easy to make, with the craft concrete and molds being available at any hobby store.  Simply add water to the concrete as instructed, pour it into the molds and let your children press their handprints in before the concrete has a chance to harden. You can paint them or decorate them in dad’s favorite colors and they are perfect for either indoor or outdoor use.  


Looking for a great way to show off family pictures?  Then consider taking a collection of some of your favorite family photos — past and present — and making a collage. All you need to do is buy a large framed collage board from a local hobby shop and decorate it is cut-out family pictures and other souvenirs, such as a brochure from a state park you camped at or a souvenir you picked up at a trip to Disneyland. This is a highly personal gift and a celebration of family that is likely to appeal to any dad.

Souvenir Shadow Boxes

Do you still have those shells you and your family collected from that trip to Myrtle Beach?  Or the ticket stub and pictures from that baseball game you caught last summer?  Then turn these souvenirs into a great Father’s Day present.  Plain wooden shadowboxes can be purchased from any hobby store: paint them any way you want, add the shells or other souvenirs and seal the top up. These boxes are a great method for preserving family memories.

Low-Key Celebrations

Don’t worry about fancy restaurants or resorts for Father’s Day this year — there are plenty of low-key but fun ways to celebrate! The best thing about all these activities is that they let your kids be involved in the preparations and really make the day special for their father.

Backyard Cookout

The back porch is a great setting for an at-home celebration for dad. Fire up the grill, slap on some stacks and serve them up with some giant helpings of potato salad, coleslaw and beans, with plenty of ice cream for dessert.  Have your kids string fairy lights up around the edge of the patio, then light up some tiki torches and party as the sun goes down.  What better way to celebrate fatherhood than to spend this kind of quality time with the family?

Kid-Cooked Dinner

Turn your own dining room into a fancy restaurant — and let your kids do the decorating, setting the table and decorating it with flowers from the garden. Then pick out some of dad’s favorite foods and have your children prepare it (with assistance, of course!) and then serve it up.  This is a great way to get them involved in making a memorable evening for their dad.  What’s great about this option is that, unlike the other two suggested activities, it is not dependent upon the weather.

Family Hike

If the dad in your family is the get-out-into-nature type, another great and budget-friendly way to celebrate the day is to pick his favorite park or natural area for a day hike. Is it a bit of a drive to get there? Then take along some of dad’s favorite CD’s in order to enjoy the trip. Bring the camera for lots of memorable pictures.  And be sure to pack a picnic of his favorite sandwiches with sides of potato chips, cookies and ice-cold lemonade before you head out for a great walk in the woods.  For the outdoor kind of dad, this is a great way to celebrate the day.  


The truth is that you don’t have to have a luxurious, high-budget plan in mind to have a great time this holiday.  What is more important is to plan for homemade gifts and at- or close-to-home family activities that will celebrate the true meaning of Father’s Day and give your children the opportunity to show their dad how much he means to them.


Brian Wu, PhD is a current medical student at the Keck School of Medicine and a proud parent. He founded Health Stories For Kids to educate and entertain kids and their families about different health topics. Check out more at www.healthstoriesforkids.com

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