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CNN —  

A
tie is the ultimate cliché dad gift, but there are plenty more uninspired pop presents when you think about it. Have you fallen into a polo shirt, gift card or mug rut? This Father’s Day, reimagine your old standby and go with a gift he’ll never see coming — but utterly love.

We sussed out what those mysterious presents actually are by heading straight to the source: We asked dads all over the US, with “kids” ranging in age from 2 months to 30 years old, what they want, that nobody ever guesses, for Father’s Day. Read on for 18 ideas that will make a huge impression.

Instead of a watch…

MLB Friendship Bracelets ($64/set of three; uncommongoods.com)

MLB Friendship Bracelets
MLB Friendship Bracelets

“I’ve been trying to get my daughter to make me a friendship bracelet for a year,” shares one CNN Underscored dad. “She starts it but never finishes. It’s the only thing I really want from her.” No words. This trio — ideal if given by two kids — is made of wool unwound from the core of balls used in Major League Baseball Games.

Instead of a phone case…

UV Sanitizer by Casetify ($120; casetify.com)

UV Sanitizer by Casetify
UV Sanitizer by Casetify

Gadget-loving dads this year are all about this new phone sanitizer, which you can read more about here. It has wireless charging capabilities, and even sanitizes other objects, like keys.

Instead of a tool set…

16-inch Chainsaw by Echo ($199; homedepot.com)

16-inch Chainsaw by Echo
16-inch Chainsaw by Echo

It’s time to get the man a chainsaw. “Dads get antsy hearing all the neighbor dads firing up their chainsaws while he stares listlessly at the broken tree limbs he valiantly dragged to the side of the yard to deal with later,” one dad at CNN Underscored says. “Later never comes.” This is a great entry-level model, small and light enough to easily use for jobs all over the yard, but with a gas engine that gives sufficient power.

Instead of an iTunes gift card…

Sonos One SL Microphone-Free Smart Speaker ($179; amazon.com)

Sonos One SL - Microphone-Free Smart Speaker
Sonos One SL - Microphone-Free Smart Speaker

Audiophile dad? Treat him to these wireless smart speakers that get consistent high marks from Amazon reviewers. They’re “a toy he’ll have a blast with,” one dad at CNN Underscored agreed. “He’ll enjoy them whether he’s setting up a new music zone in the basement or garage, or bringing the full-sounding stereo pair to his office.”

Instead of a frying pan…

Brio Air Fryer by Nuwave ($59.95, originally $99.99; amazon.com)

Brio Air Fryer by Nuwave
Brio Air Fryer by Nuwave

“I’m so tired of waiting for the oven to preheat to make chicken nuggets for the kids. An air fryer would be a game changer,” said one dad in the office. This sleek machine is smaller than others out there, so it doesn’t hog up space on the counter. It has six presets: frozen fries, homemade fries, steak, poultry, fish — and, of course, nuggets.

Instead of tickets to a game or concert…

Just the Ticket Ticket Stub Organizer ($13.97; amazon.com)

Just the Ticket Ticket Stub Organizer
Just the Ticket Ticket Stub Organizer

Neil Brown, a dad of three in Mechanicsville, Maryland, told us that tickets — whether to an outdoor sporting event, the movies or a summer concert — are his favorite Father’s Day gift. Because of social distancing rules, that’s probably not going to happen this year. Bring a smile to event-loving dads with this cool memory builder. Ticket stubs of all types fit, and he’ll find spots for jotting down memories to go along with them. (Neil suggests tucking in an IOU for tix post-covid.)

Instead of a shovel…

WORX WG050 Aerocart 8-In-1 Multifunction Wheelbarrow ($269.99, originally $299.99; target.com)

Aerocart by Worx
Aerocart by Worx

Eric Holtje, a father of two in Moseley, Virginia, is known for fixing up his yard during his downtime: “I love my family, but I still need time to relax and work on something by myself outside of my dad duties.” His wife surprised him with a wheelbarrow for Father’s Day. “It changed my life!” he says. The Aerocart is tough, but a cinch to maneuver. It easily converts to a yard cart as well as a dolly.

Instead of making breakfast in bed…

Bacon of the Month Club (starting at $46.95/month for three months; amazingclubs.com)

Bacon of the Month Club
Bacon of the Month Club

Bacon! Over and over! And not just any old bacon. We’re talking thick-cut, artisanal, savory-smoky goodness from specialty butchers. Each month the lucky recipient will receive two 1-pound packages, in all kinds of flavors. Think cranberry honey, white pepper Parmesan and Cajun. The longer the subscription, the less the cost per month.

Instead of his favorite barbeque sauce…

Stay Salty Pack ($29.99; mancrates.com)

Stay Salty Pack
Stay Salty Pack

Brent Abraham, a dad of three kiddos in Findlay, Ohio, says, “I for one would really like to get some different, high-quality seasonings to experiment with.” Spice up Father’s Day for the dad in your life with this collection of gourmet salts. The varieties, packaged in a small but mighty cardboard crate, include hickory smoke, lemon rosemary sea salt, bacon and spicy Sriracha sea salt.

Instead of a folding stool for working in the yard…

Barksdale Chaise Lounge with Cushion ($172.99, originally $396.48; wayfair.com)

Barksdale Chaise Lounge with Cushion
Barksdale Chaise Lounge with Cushion

Justin Fuhrman, a dad of two girls in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, has a simple Father’s Day wish: a nice lawn chair. They tend to get beat up pretty quickly, being outside and all. So if the dad you love is in need of an upgrade, may we suggest this comfy beauty. It’s built with weather-resistant acacia wood and can fold up for easy storage.

Instead of another sport-tech tee…

Premium Series Catcher’s Mitt by Rawlings ($69.99, originally $79.99; dickssportinggoods.com)

Premium Series Catcher's Mitt by Rawlings
Premium Series Catcher's Mitt by Rawlings

Relaxing father-and-kid pastimes like playing catch have had a resurgence — filling days that would have been spent at summer camp. “I love to throw mine whenever I get the chance,” says one dad at CNN Underscored. “It’s especially fun with the kids.” Made of full-grain leather, this mitt has padding at the palm for catching comfort. It’s designed to break in extra fast too.

Instead of a current nonfiction best-seller…

“The Count of Monte Cristo” by Alexandre Dumas ($21.32; amazon.com)

"The Count of Monte Cristo" by Alexandre Dumas
"The Count of Monte Cristo" by Alexandre Dumas

Another father on the CNN team tipped us off to what we think is an incredible idea: a classic novel that he always wanted to read, or did read in school and would love to reread. Our staffer voted for “The Count of Monte Cristo” (shown). We had other dads weigh in, too, with “The Red Badge of Courage,” “The Call of the Wild” and “Of Mice and Men.” “It can be an insightful experience to pick up a book last read by your high school self,” noted Wayne Gai, a dad of one son in Chicago.

Instead of a Spotify subscription…

Washed Wood Bluetooth Record Player by Crosley ($99; urbanoutfitters.com)

Washed Wood Bluetooth Record Player by Crosley
Washed Wood Bluetooth Record Player by Crosley

More than one dad we chatted with mentioned a turntable as a killer Father’s Day gift this year. Vinyl has had a serious comeback, with many aficionados collecting and playing records for the first time in years — or for the first time, period. We love the retro look of this solid pick.

Instead of a weekender bag…

Std. Issue Back Pack by Urban Armor Gear ($119.95; amazon.com)

Std. Issue Back Pack by Urban Armor Gear
Std. Issue Back Pack by Urban Armor Gear

This stellar bag is technically a backpack, but it can also have a wonderful life as a baby bag, commuter bag and carry-on. It is extra sturdy and ergonomically designed for maximum comfort, well-paddedw with EVO foam. It stands upright on its own — an underrated feature until you finally have a bag that does, and you realize how much easier that makes things. The tech compartment is fleece-lined, and it stashes a laptop with ease. The pass-through strap attaches to rolling luggage, no problem.

Instead of a whiskey stones…

S’well Teakwood 25-Ounce Bottle ($45; swell.com)

S'well Teakwood 25-Ounce Bottle
S'well Teakwood 25-Ounce Bottle

We tested a bunch of water bottles earlier this year to find the absolute best and this one came out on top for holding liquids at a steady temperature. So, whether he loves his coffee hot or his water ice cold, this bottle will be a loyal friend. And, we like the teakwood-look design, too.

Instead of a trip to the ice cream shop…

Cuisinart ICE-21CGR Frozen Yogurt, Ice Cream and Sorbet Maker ($109.99; amazon.com)

Cuisinart ICE-21CGR Frozen Yogurt, Ice Cream and Sorbet Maker
Cuisinart ICE-21CGR Frozen Yogurt, Ice Cream and Sorbet Maker

Summer is here, and everyone loves the cold, sweet stuff. (And if you’re looking for pointers on how to make ice cream at home, we’ve got you.) Emil Gretarsson, a dad in Slidell, Louisiana, well-known in his circle for his unbridled love of ice cream, doesn’t have an ice cream maker — a fact he’d very much like to change. Aside from the obvious benefits, he notes, it would be a fun activity to share with his four kids. This model gets rave reviews and produces loads of your flavor du jour in only 20 minutes.

Instead of cuff links…

Samsung Galaxy Buds+ ($149.99; amazon.com)

Samsung Galaxy Buds+
Samsung Galaxy Buds+

Whether he’s catching up on his podcasts, chilling with music, gaming or taking another work-from-home conference call, these earbuds won’t let him down — delivering 22 hours of total battery life. They’ll let dad hear as little or as much surrounding noise as he likes, an excellent feature, say, at the park, where he wants to be able to hear his kid calling out to him. Extra wing and ear tips are included for a custom fit. Did we mention that these were also our pick for the best budget true wireless earbuds?

Instead of slippers…

Oofos Ooahh Sport Flex Sandals ($79.95; zappos.com)

Oofos Ooahh Sport Flex Sandals
Oofos Ooahh Sport Flex Sandals

Designed specifically to soothe tired feet (which, let’s face it, virtually all of us have), these modern slides have good arch support and are uber comfortable, according to many satisfied reviewers. They’re odor- and moisture-resistant — essentially perfect for the beach, pool or shower at the gym. We have a feeling these will instantly become his running-around shoe for the whole summer.

Note: The prices above reflect the retailers’ listed prices at the time of publication.