It's funny how we all think we know our fathers well - until the time comes when we have to buy a Father's Day gift for them. All of a sudden our minds draw blanks. We have ideas that seem great for about 0.3 seconds and then it dawns on us that the presents we're considering are bland, predictable and most importantly lacking in that special thing - the personal touch. But why is that so important?
Compare these two fabulous gifts: (1) a day spent throwing a screeching Lamborghini around corners at breakneck speed; (2) a day being pampered and massaged in a country retreat with scented candles and whale songs, where bath robes and flip flops are the height of fashion. Any father would be thrilled to receive either from their son or daughter, wouldn't they? Well, no. For some dads, the idea of firing up a V12 and burning some rubber will cause the involuntary rolling of eyes and stifled yawns. For others, any activity that results in a lowering of the heart rate is a pointless, overindulgent exercise. Getting the wrong Father's Day present for Dad will just go to suggest that you're confusing the things he would like with the things you would like. Straight away, you've failed the personal test.
So we've established that however magnificent and expensive a present is, if it's not bought with him in mind, it's like giving a fry-up breakfast to a vegetarian. To be truly personal in your gift buying means avoiding stereotypes of "what dads like" and thinking about the actual person you're buying for. If you get it right, you'll certainly have made a grand gesture, no matter how much you've spent.
We all have experience of receiving presents that show that the giver doesn't actually know us all that well. If the present is everyday and neutral, like chocolates, a good bottle of wine or a gift voucher, it's fine. Quite often they are things that you like but rarely buy for yourself - and it would be ridiculous to assume we know everyone intimately. But when the gift tries to tap into your personality but misses by a mile, it can end up being quite embarrassing, especially when they see it on eBay a couple of days later (bundled with last year's present).
Buying a Father's Day present isn't like playing golf. You don't take a drive down the fairway and then chip and putt your way to par. You have to get a hole in one every time. So now is the time to start really thinking about the things that excite your dad. How does he spend his weekends and evenings? Does he follow sport or hate it? Is he just happy to spend time with his family (or, if they've flown the nest, your mum)? Is he a gardener? A culture vulture? A thrill seeker? A cinema-goer? A wine connoisseur?
One thing that can be guaranteed is that once you've really given some thought to the loves of his life, finding an appropriate gift will be that much easier. Most importantly, it will be personal. And when you're showing someone how much you love them, that's the most important thing of all.