Dad Is America's Least Favorite Person to Shop For


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Gold Toe socks. Every blessed year my father’s Christmas list consists of one item: Gold Toe socks. So I wasn’t surprised to discover that a recent survey finds “Dad” is America’s least favorite person to shop for at the holidays. 

Some 40 percent of the more than 1,000 people polled by mall giant Simon Property Group Inc. retail real estate company are thrilled to stock up on children’s gifts. That’s followed by presents for spouses or partners, with 24 percent. A mere 2 percent of respondents name fathers their favorite recipients – behind “someone else.” That’s right, data shows shoppers would rather buy for their baristas, mail carriers, and coworkers than dear old Dad.

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Guy guru Stephen Mansfield isn’t shocked either. “Most men live relatively narrow lives in terms of the things they use,” the Mansfield’s Book of Manly Men author tells Yahoo Parenting. “Cars, pens, golf stuff, briefcase. They’ve usually already bought what they need and don’t need a great deal.”

Perhaps fathers are bottoming out the list because they’re not as good at articulating their interests and coming up with lists, theorizes Simon’s chief marketing officer, Mikael Thygesen to MarketWatch. Because loved ones don’t really know what they want, he says, they’re “more difficult to buy for.”

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But it’s hardly rocket science, insists Mansfield. The easiest way to identify what your dad, your kids’ dad, heck, any dad wants to rip open next month is by taking a good hard look at what his goals are. 

“You need to think of him as an individual,” he says. Translation: No generic “man” presents. “Most of the returned gifts are things we all laugh about: ties, sweaters and tools,” he explains. “Men in general aren’t big on clothes gifts and don’t like to get tools unless they’ve specifically asked for them. It’s like giving your wife a vacuum.”

So think about whatever it is your dad has been trying to do recently. Is he working on improving his golf game? Trying to lose weight? Training to climb a mountain? Whatever the aim may be, there’s an item that will help him get there and that is what you should get him for the holidays, advises Mansfield.

The other option is to go with an experience. “Men don’t have enough experiences of a manly type and that’s what most guys would welcome because they wouldn’t think of doing it for themselves.” Examples include guitar lessons, tickets to a big sports game, or even a pampering session at The Art of Shaving. “The point is to get him something fun.”

And please, urges Mansfield, avoid gadgets at all costs. Yes dads love Brookstone, but they love to shop there themselves. “Just as men shouldn’t really buy women too much makeup or perfume without consulting them, men are picky about the massage chair they want,” he levels. “Let them buy their own gadgets.”