Because we’ve all been staying home for so long, your project-loving dad may have already exhausted himself on sourdough starters and herb gardens. To encourage his interest in new hobbies this Father’s Day, we’ve compiled a list of slightly less obvious project-based kits you can buy online right now. From DIY synth-making and mushroom propagation to Lego builds for adults, these gifts make getting started on an unexpected project fun and easy to do.
Making cold-brew coffee from scratch at home isn’t incredibly difficult, but it does take a long time. That’s why Strategist contributor Katherine Rotunno suggests using this foolproof cold-brew kit from New Orleans–style coffee purveyor Grady’s. The kit comes with 12 premeasured coffee sachets which, depending on how much you drink in a day and how strong you like it, amounts to almost six weeks’ worth of cold brew. To make a batch, you just plop in your sachets, add water, and chill.
If your dad is into growing his own food and has ever told a joke about a mushroom hosting a party, he’ll love this organic mushroom-growing kit. Just mist the soil infused with spores through the kit’s front opening, and you’ll have a crop of oyster mushrooms in a few days. George Pisegna, deputy director and chief of horticulture at the Horticulture Society of New York, recommends this kit and others like it for people who want to try their hand at gardening (and unlike many gardening kits, you don’t need a lot of light in your home to have success with this).
Adult Lego enthusiast and dad Matthew Mitchell of Belle-Ve Bricks knows how hard it can be as a parent to find time to sit down and relax. But when dads do manage to carve out some free time, Mitchell recommends they try this Volkswagen T1 Camper Van Lego set. “It’s nicely designed and well thought out,” he says, noting that Lego even managed to fully kit out the 1,332-piece camper van with interior curtains, pots, and pans.
Mitchell also suggests this Lego Fiat 500 set with amazing attention to detail that he says is hard to put down once you get started. He loves that it comes with a spare tire in the front and engine in the back (just like the real thing) and that it has a working sunroof.
Instead of buying a prepackaged artist’s set, illustrator Daniel Fishel recommends putting together your own gift set for dad that includes a three-pack of handsome notebooks from Field Notes plus a few different pens or pencils to try. “I am not thrilled with a lot of sets so I would suggest something more à la carte for a dad who is leaning into the arts,” says Fishel. He recommends the Field Notes Wilco set or this National Park series. You can also pick up a three-pack of Chicago-themed notebooks and Field Notes will donate 100 percent of the profits to Black Lives Matter.
Fishel recommends the Pentel Smash drafting pencil, which he says has a nice weight to it that isn’t over the top while also having a nice grip, and the Pentel brush pen, because it’s affordable and delivers unique texture and line detailing if you use it for dry brushing. His third pick is the Baron Fig squire, which he tells us he can’t shut up about. “The price is high but holding the pen doesn’t feel like you’re holding a pen. It feels like an extension of your hand,” Fishel says, noting that the brand spent over a year designing and developing it. He suggests buying the set that comes with refills, a pen stand, and a pocket case, because you might as well spend a little more for something nice. “Plus,” he adds, “the cartridges are a Parker ballpoint so you can experiment with other brands’ cartridges for different inks and flows.”
If he can’t stop talking about how much he misses taking his dog to the groomer, get him this grooming kit so he can learn to do it at home. This one from Wahl, which was mentioned by master groomer Joshua Morales in our guide to dog grooming, includes a variety of guards and a DVD with styling tips.
“There are few things more satisfying than a well-made campfire and grilled meats,” says Greg Breitmaier, dad and materials manager at Simms Fishing Products, who recommends giving outdoorsy dads and dads who like to grill the Takibi Fire Grill from Snow Peak. Breitmaier likes that the built-in ventilation makes starting a fire simple and says it works just as well when you’re out camping as it does in a backyard. “The fire is elevated, so my lawn stays pristine, and because it’s simple to use, it makes me look like a pro,” he says. The Takibi Fire Grill is made of stainless steel, comes with a lifetime guarantee, and folds up and packs away in a canvas bag for easy storage.
If your dad is more of a pickle guy than a steak guy, he’ll appreciate this handy fermentation kit. It includes recipes, jars, a wooden tamper, and self-venting lids, and comes recommended by Michael Perrine, founder of rejuvenation and detox clinic Vitality NYC in our recent guide to fermenting. Perrine suggests ordering your kit from Cultures of Health, where they also offer gallons and lids for 16-ounce ball jars, because “you may as well go big so you can do it less often.”
For dads who like to drink their fermentation products, we suggest buying this nice-looking kombucha kit from our gift guide for new dads.
Musician Bryan Camphire says he would love something he can use to share new sounds with his young daughter, since the music classes he was going to sign her up for are on hold due to the coronavirus. “I have a toddler who’s very musical. She calls metal music ‘monster music’ and loves to scream and shout and dance to any and all kinds of tunes,” says Camphire. This DIY Synth kit is great for kids and adults, and lets you create three different kinds of synthesizer: Dub Siren, Stutter, and Atari.
But if you think your dad would appreciate a toy all to himself, give him this cool drone-making kit that lets you fly with the press of a button and record videos from the air. The kit comes recommended by Karen Blumberg, a math teacher and STEM expert we also talked to for our guide to STEM toys for kids.
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