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help wanted: one personal shopper

I hate buying gifts for my father. There are more things on his list that he doesn't want us to buy (no golf stuff!) than he does want us to buy (a 4 foot plasma tv. Right). To make matters worse, his birthday is December 31st, so I have do buy him two things. Three if the kids want to give him something separately, which they usually do.

So, what do I buy him this year? I'll tell you a little about him.

Republic. Retired NYC Firefighter. Travels often to make presentations and speeches. Likes biographies and books about history. His favorite movies are War Games and Airplane. Loves the Mets, but I refuse to buy anything with a Met emblem on it. Loves the Jets but doesn't want that public knowledge. Gourmet cook. Wine afficianado. Likes buying gadgets even if he doesn't know how to use them.

Oh, and he has everything.

So, any ideas?


An Ulu knife and bowl set sounds like a great idea for him ulu

ill write more if i can think of anything else. :)

Take a look in the DVD section of historychannel.com, see if anything jumps out at you.

A digital probe thermometer for cooking, if he doesn't already have it. I didn't for a long time and now that mine's broken I realize I need it.

Donate money so he can attend one of the Republican dinners when the convention is in town?

Good thought, Drew but he always goes to those things. He's a committee man or something like that.


Get him one of those alarm clocks that the numbers are suspended inmid air. =po but personally he sounds ALOT like my dad, down to the gourmet cook and all. I got my dad an ulu set last year when we were visiting my uncles in alaska and he is in love with it. Uses it just about every meal. (best thing in the world for chopping fresh herbs)

Go to Google and search for "Of The Month Club" then sign him up for whatever strikes your fancy.

It's the gift that keeps on giving. I've never had any complaints with "Salsa of the Month."

I got this book for my father for Father's Day and he loved it.

Sharper Image has a digitized wine guide device. Worth a look....

Because he travels a lot - a (monogrammed?)leather travel pouch filled with high quality toiletries (ie if he shaves get a brush with real wood handle - masculine scented shaving creme - bay rum or old spice aftershave - wood handled hair brush - manicure kit - etc etc) theme is old world - leather lasts for ever and often takes on the character/scent of the owner - he'll think of you when he uses it and you can restock or add for future gifts
in the history department - a japanese historical novel - Musashi by Eiji Yoshikawa - a samurai epic - check Amazon

Merry Christmas

If he doesn't already have one, Brookstone has a wine opener that looks something designed by a sadistic dentist for extractions, but which really works. I wrestled with all kinds of openers, poking holes in corks and dropping cork crumbs everywhere, but this thing is clean, relatively simple (as soon as you get the leverage figured out)and extracts the cork in one beautiful piece. Highly recommended - my daughters bought it for me.


When I went to Australia 7 years ago, I brought back 2 bottles of Wolf Blass back with me, and a bottle of single malt whiskey from Tasmania that was made from naturally de-ionized water. The whiskey didn't taste like there was any alcohol in it - but after doing 3-4 shots it hit, like a 2×4. I can't rememeber the name of the whiskey it but it was in a tall thin bottle. As for the wines, one was Wolf Blass Grey Label, and I can't remember what the other one was but it was a Wolf Blass, both were exceptional. Now days you can find all kinds of Australian wines in any decent liquor store.

Any Australian Shiraz is a good standby from nearly any producer, but if you can get the Wolf Blass Grey Label or Platinum Label I'm sure your Dad would enjoy either.

If he's a fan of wine and collects, he might like this software:


I've spent way too much time using it.

Maybe a reservation for your mom and dad at a bed and breakfast in the wine country out east?

An old fashioned gumball/candy machine. Got one for my dad at www.vintagevending.com.

Looks cool on a desk or countertop and reminds 'em of the old days.

Unless, of course, he already has one.

Wargames and Airplane are the two best movies of all time, oh my god! If he will watch it, get him Sneakers (Redford, Poitier, Phoenix, Akyroyd, Kingsley). It's funny and cool.

a wine bottle re-corker. check hammacher schlemmer or sonoma williams. happy holidays!

Yea..You could ....Buy him my CD :-)

Sorry Michele...it was toooooo easy..
Actually Gizmodo has some cool things.

Take the kids to a contemporary ceramics studio (the kind where you paint it yourself), and let them make something (useful) for your Dad. Whatever they make will be unique (and personalized), be immediately priceless (to him), but won't break the bank (regardless of who is paying for it).

Plus, you can drop them off then pick them up later. Heck, you might even spot something that lights a creative spark.

Perfect grandkids/grandparent 'hit'.

May want to hurry with it if you decide to give it a shot - there is a turnaround time for firing the pieces, and a lot of studios have a 'last day to paint' cutoff to ensure the pieces are ready in time.

I bought my stepfather a book called The Clay PIgeons of St. Lo. Last Christmas I bought him Pacific War Diary: 1942-1945, which he said was great.

I've had very, very good luck simply following the Common Reader suggestions. They've not steered me wrong yet.

Wolf Blass is an excellent Australian wine. There are other great red wines from South Australia. Penfolds Grane Hermitage is one of the best reds ever made - if you can afford the $200+ a bottle. I have drunk a few in my time, and believe me, Grange is better than sex.

History books - does he have any particular field or moment that he prefers?

I suggest Burrows & Wallace, Gotham: a History of New York City to 1898 unless he already has it. It is a big book, but very readable.

Some of my favorite suggestions include:
James McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom
William Cronon, Nature's Metropolis
Alan Taylor, Liberty Men and Great Proprietors
Levenstien, Revolution at the Table

Look into the Library of America's collected writings of the founders. www.loa.org The Jefferson, Hamilton, and Washington volumes are all quite good - and if he gives speeches he can raid the guys for quotes.

Ted K.

This site has saved my arse with Todd's dad in the past. Highly recommend them! Very cool gadget selection...especially if he likes to travel.

A gift subscription for several months to Netflix.

Wine. And more wine. I collect and I'm always happy to get more. One approach is to find out where he likes to buy wine and talk to someone at that shop that might know his tastes in order to tailor this well. Or if he keeps a wine journal, see what he has commented positively on recently.


Get him a Bobble Head doll of himself.

That's easily the best thing.

"Loves the Jets but doesn't want that public knowledge."

As a combination of your kids gift and the wish to expose said embarrassment, have your kids make brown paper bag masks with the word Jet Fan written on them alah the ole Saints costume.

Bonus, dig your kids can make their own saying "My grandfather is a Met Fan"


California wine. My parents own a winery but I won't plug ours specifically. Silver Oak is always nice. Australian wine is a good bet, go for the Wolf Blass. Rosemount also makes a nice, drinkable Shiraz. Or go exotic and get some South African wine. They're putting out good stuff. Email me if you want more wine suggestions.

No, no, no. A nice 20 year-old single malt scotch from the highlands. He'll love you for it. No ice, no water.

Magazine subscriptions to Gourmet and Wine Spectator?

Your dad sounds about the age of my dad. I remember the gift I gave him 4 years ago that meant more than anything I had ever given him.

You can get a US flag that has flown over the capital on a specific date, through your Congressman or Senators, their web sites. Pick a date that means something to him, the day he graduated and became a fireman, his anniversary with your mom...your birthday.

I would bet a lot that the city has something similar with the flag that represents NYC.

I know it's late, and you may have to expedite, or might not be able to pull it off (good idea for b-day or future gift)

But I can guarantee he will like it a lot.



or the single malt scotch.

Band of Brothers DVD set? I know he'd enjoy it based on your description.

The perfect woman:

3 feet tall
no teeth
a flat head to put my ash tray on

Also, one who knows what her mouth is for, and keeps it full. One who does what she's told WITHOUT QUESTION, EVER.

Also, one who never, ever votes Repuke!

Mike recommended the same thing I was going to recommend.

Band of Brothers on DVD.

I bought it for my dad who is also a history buff, and my husband.

They both thought it was amazing.

A kit to make your own wine?

New cookware or small appliances? Perhaps a stick blender or digital probe thermometer or KitchenAid mixer?

A few bottles of good wine? And maybe some good cheese? Or some nice new wine glasses?

If he likes gadgets, what about one of these:
* SwissChamp XLT
* Leatherman Wave
* Swiss Card (like a swiss army knife but in a credit card like carrying case)
* James Bond zippo stealth camera
* Falcon Combat 24-hour watch

um yeah=moron

Get him a Gameboy Advance and Tactics Advance to play while he's traveling.

A Hooters waitress?