10 Practical, Hilarious, and Amazing Gifts for Your Stylish But Set-in-His-Ways Dad

Let me tell you a little story about me and my father.

Life 101: Dads Are Impossible to Buy Gifts For, and my father is no exception, through no fault of his own. Presents must toe the line between manly, practical, and classic, with just a hint of frivolous luxury thrown in (I am his daughter, after all; I'm not going to buy him a shovel). And did I mention that his birthday is four days before Christmas?

One year, I was drifting through the aisles of Pier One Imports, hoping to find something scented, beaded, and colorful for my mother. And then I saw it. The perfect gift. I couldn't explain why my father needed it — I just knew.

It was a fat iron pig.

That's all. Just a fat iron pig, chilling on the Pier One Imports shelf. It had zero use other than being decorative. It was the most impractical thing the store offered, and I snatched it up like a falcon.

My dad was, reasonably, quite confused when he opened the gift, but I tried to explain: "It's just — it's so cute and — you can put it on your desk." In retrospect, it didn't make sense to anyone with me. How to explain the kismet that matches conservative dads with the silliest of gifts? How to explain why chubby metal piglets are so very perfect for serious academics? It was meant to be, and I make no apologies.

Ever since then, I've harbored this secret illusion that I'm the dad-gift-giving expert. The gift must be a little bit boyish, a little big serious. A little bit practical, a little bit indulgent. And I guarantee you'll find something for the most difficult of dads in the following pages.

A customized toiletry case

While you’ve been wrapping your toothbrush in a paper towel and praying your shampoo doesn’t explode in your suitcase, your dad has been putting his travel products in a toiletry case for years, like a real grownup. Perhaps it’s time he was given a new one?

Men’s Leather Toiletry Case, $78, etsy.com

A vitally important 2014 calendar

Bring out his inner child AND PREPARE HIM FOR THE APOCALYPSE.

2014 The Worst-Case Scenario Daily Survival Calendar, $11.69, barnesandnoble.com

A super hip sweater

This is the perfect piece of dad fashion – it’s very off-the-moment, but no one could ever call it “hipster.” Or “punk.” Or “teenage.” Or “old-fashioned.”

Guess Ombre Crew-Neck Sweater, $79.99, macys.com

A jellyfish lamp

Good for mild hypnotization on particularly stressful days at the office.

Jellyfish Lamp, $28.95, gadgetsandgear.com

An oral hygiene makeover

My dad can’t possibly be the only father obsessed with oral hygiene, right? Get him a month’s supply (oral rinse, toothpaste, breath spray, tongue cleaner, toothbrush) and you’ll never have to hear a lecture on proper brushing techniques again.

CloSYS One Month Fluoride Kit, $24.99, myclosys.com

A useful book

Show me the man who doesn’t need a little help being more romantic and I’ll show you James Blunt.

Love Letters of Great Men, Volume 1, $17.96, amazon.com

An inspiring journal

This Tolkien quote will thrill even the most business-oriented of dads. Tell him he needs to start writing down his stories, and keep bugging him until he does.

Hand-Printed Leather Journal, $25, etsy.com

Sriracha Salt

While he unwraps it, scream-sing, “SPICE UP YOUR LIFE!” Aren’t you the cutest?

Sriracha Salt, $8, etsy.com

A breakfast sandwich maker

ARE YOU SEEING WHAT THIS THING DOES?

Hamilton Beach 25475A Breakfast Sandwich Maker, $24.94, amazon.com

An inspiring poster

Because you and he both know that he should take that trip to Scotland that he’s been talking about for years, and he should start planning today.

Travel Print, $19, scoutmob.com