Whether you see your dad every weekend or just once a year, it’s easy to fall into a comfortable rhythm; neither one of you plans anything specific, and you just hang out in front of the TV with a beer. While the familiarity is also something to cherish, these father-son hangouts will be much more memorable with a specific experience attached. Here are a few ideas for the two of you that are a notch above the usual. Make his Father's Day special by plannning one of these hang-outs now, though you can really do them any time of year.
Head to the country club for a round of golf, but instead of competing, use one ball and alternate hitting it. Play to your strengths—perhaps he’s better with the driver, and you’re the superior putter—and set a scoring goal. This should be slightly faster than a round of competitive golf, so go ahead and play another round, this time trying to get lower than your previous score.
Now you’ll play against each other: Biggest fish wins. Set a time limit, so that the competition has a designated ending—otherwise, you might be out there all day until one of you gives up. If you aren’t releasing your prized trophy, then here’s the payout: The loser filets.
It’s easy to order pizza, but much more rewarding to make it from scratch. Or, instead of trying that new Italian restaurant, find a great recipe and try to make the perfect fettuccini alfredo together. This is a “journey is the destination” scenario, though hopefully the destination is pretty darn tasty, too.
For some reason, Dad loves firing up the grill whenever you’re home, and steak is his safety (or hamburger, or chicken, or pork chops, or sausage, or any meat, really). Try grilling something less traditional, to get him outside his comfort zone: corn on the cob, avocado, artichoke (or any vegetable, really), heck, even pizza or grilled cheese (a misnomer until now). Break his pattern, and it’ll give you something to try together, for a memorable result either way. But afterwards, grill the steak; why would you pass that up?
Treat Dad to a new wardrobe staple: a blazer, sunglasses, boots, jeans, watch, or even a fragrance. Pick it out together, and get a matching piece for yourself. Choose something stylish that you will both be proud to wear, and you’ll have each other in mind whenever you put it on. Just coordinate ahead of time if you’ll be attending the same event, because this exercise isn’t about looking identical to one another, it’s about finding a new favorite, together.
Vinyl, like wine, gets better with age. Surprise your dad with a new record player—trust us, it’s the best quality sound you can get—and pop open some wine that complements the classics. Maybe some cabernet sauvignon to go with that 80s rock ‘n roll—the acidity gives it a perfect zing—or some pinot paired with his favorite jazz set—it’s a moody wine that will heighten the senses. As the bottles pour, so will his stories attached to this music; you might learn some great things about Dad’s younger years.
Many ancestry websites make it both fun and rewarding to dive into the family tree and origins. Learn where in the world you have extended family, or when your ancestors found each other and set everything in motion. You might learn how your great-great-grandfather passed away, or which town great-great-aunt Ethel emigrated from in 1892. Trace the lineage together and see what sorts of crazy things you uncover about your shared past.
Dad spent enough years hauling you around in a minivan to soccer practice, so give him what he deserves: a ride in a sleek, modern marvel. You might have to do some digging to find one with the right muscle or showmanship, but he’ll appreciate the effort. Once he’s on the open road, that tireless search will have him feeling like a teenager again. (Hint: Buick's 24 Hours of Happiness Test Drive, you can rent one of their new cars for a day free of charge.)
Do some research on planting regulations in dad’s town, then go with him to find the tree that will fit the character of his neighborhood. Together, learn how to best plant and care for it, then enjoy watching it grow for years to come. Best of all, he'll think of you every time he sees the tree, and even if he moves, its symbolism will persist.
Get out of the neighborhood together, and hit the lakeside walking trails, the nearest mountain, or even the beach. Bring a backpack with lunch and hydration, and enjoy two relationships at once: father-and-son, as well as man-and-nature.
McQueen, Brando, DeNiro, Monty Python...Nothing compares to the classics. (Or so says Dad.) Watch something that he grew up loving, and don’t shush him as he narrates each scene with random facts or plot spoilers.
Plan a surprise attack on Mom and everyone else: Grow out your facial hair at the same time, and then, also at the same time, shave everything except the mustache. Bonus points for practicing your Sam Elliott voices and refusing to speak to anyone without it.
You’re never too old for guitar lessons. Or vocal coaching. Or C++, or Latin, or baking, or glass blowing…pressure one another to finish the course, and see which of you can best master the craft.
Go get your annual physicals back to back, as a joint promise to stay proactive about your wellness. Then, after this yearly benchmark, celebrate with some fried chicken wings, extra cheesy nachos, and a rich dessert. For the rest of your years, you and Dad can hold one another accountable for good health, but also for revelry.