When figuring out what to get Dad this Father’s Day – keep in mind the things that he doesn’t want.
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He may not realize it - and retailers will try to convince you otherwise - but according to some experts, Dad really doesn’t want a tie.
“Most guys really don’t want stuff,” said Michael I. Norton, marketing professor at Harvard Business School and coauthor of Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending.
Norton says it would make dad much happier to buy him an experience rather than a thing, and then join him in that experience. Spending time doing something he likes with the people he loves produces the most happiness, according to Norton’s research.
For example, Norton says if your Dad loves golf, get him a round of golf and join him, even if you’re not a fan of the game.
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“Remembering the experience is much better than remembering stuff,” he says.
Tickets to a game
It’s a great idea, but only if you’re going with him, said Norton. Sharing any experience ranks much higher on the happiness scale, he said.
According to Scott Steinberg, a trends expert and author of The Modern Parent’s Guide series, “The absolute best gifts are those that bring families together.”
“And you don’t have to spend a lot of money,” he added.
For example, getting him something that reflects his interests, like a gift card to his favorite hardware store, and then take him there so he can share the experience with you, said Steinberg.
While no Dad would dare be unappreciative of something his son or daughter made for him, a thing still doesn’t produce the same lasting happiness as an experience, according to Norton. That’s because the giver knows how much time and effort went into, say, knitting a scarf, but the receiver doesn’t.
For younger kids, making a craft or a meal together would ultimately make dad happier.
Michael Perrucci, a personal fitness trainer in Locust Valley, New York, said his favorite, most memorable gift he received from his 11-year-old son was a coupon book for things like help washing his car.
“One coupon was good for ‘watching Bigfoot shows without my son making fun of me,’” he said. Perrucci liked that his son put thought into finding things he knows he loves to do, and sharing those times with him.
Steinberg says a coupon for a family game night or breakfast together is another great idea.
“The best is the gift of warmth and yourself,” he says, especially in a modern, tech-driven world where physically getting together may seem more challenging than meeting via Facetime or Skype.