10 of the Best Father’s Day Gifts for Less Than $20

fathers day gifts under $20

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June 16 is Father’s Day. To help you make that day more memorable, we’ve created a list of the best Father’s Day gift ideas for under $20. Although inexpensive, the Father’s Day gift ideas we listed are thoughtful and will be appreciated.

If you’re like me, you probably underappreciated your dad in your younger years. My mom and I were a lot alike, and she was my confidant and my emotional support as I was growing up and learning how to live life on my own. My dad was in the background, watching sports and working–or that’s what I noticed at the time.

Later, I realized that my dad was always there for me. He drove me to outings and activities, he made me breakfast and packed my lunch when my mom the night owl was still in bed, and as an adult, he took care of my pets and mail when I went on vacation and babysat my kids and brought a pie to all the family gatherings. Fortunately, I was able to see just how great my dad was and tell him so for many years after I grew up. He passed away a few years ago, and I’m so glad I got to tell him how much I appreciated him and loved him while he was still here.

Father’s Day is a great time to celebrate your dad for all his great qualities, whatever they happen to be. Even when you don’t have much money to work with, you can still do something special for your dad and honor him for what he means to you. Here are some money-saving ideas for Father’s Day gifts for less than $20.

1. The gift of time.

Spending time together doesn’t have to mean a fancy restaurant meal or an expensive outing. Most dads enjoy burgers on the grill just as much as filet mignon (or maybe more). Find out what your dad would enjoy and do it with him, whether it’s a hike on a nearby trail, fishing at the creek, or watching sports on TV. Making memories is priceless, even when you don’t spend much actual cash to do it.

2. His favorite food.

My dad’s favorite meal was cabbage and noodles (he was Pennsylvania Dutch), so I used to make it for him on special days like his birthday and Father’s Day. He didn’t cook, so he appreciated my efforts and enjoyed having his favorite meal from time to time. You can always cook your dad’s favorite meal and give it to him to put in the freezer, or maybe put together a basket of inexpensive snacks you know he likes. If you’re not sure what your dad’s favorites are, it’s a good time to ask him.

3. A framed picture.

Another great Father’s Day gift for dad is a framed picture–of you and him together, of his grandkids if he has any, or of you. If you can’t decide, there are even collage frames that will hold several pictures. Frames are available inexpensively at stores like Walmart, and most arts and crafts stores like Michael’s and A.C. Moore routinely discount their higher-priced frames by up to 50 percent off, and also offer coupons for 40 to 50 percent off in local newspapers or by email.

4. Something he needs.

When I get stumped on what to buy for a gift, I tend to just take the direct route and ask the intended recipient what they need or want. This way I know that the Father’s Day gift I give will be wanted and appreciated, even if it isn’t a big surprise. Rather than another tie or coffee mug that will probably sit on the shelf and gather dust, why not find out what your dad might really want or need? You might be surprised, but you also might get ideas for this and future gifts that you would never have considered on your own.

An elderly couple working on a puzzle with an adult daughter.
Spending time with Dad is always a good gift.

5. The gift of appreciation.

Finding a tangible way to show your appreciation for your dad and all he’s done in your life isn’t easy. For under $20, you could get a trophy or a medal from a local sports store that says “First Place Dad” or something similar. Department and discount stores often sell t-shirts with clever sayings about how great your dad is that the dads in my life (including my husband) wore proudly for years after the fact.

6. A handmade memento.

Making crafts as gifts is fun! One year I made my husband a shirt with the kids’ handprints in fabric paint with words to the effect that he was a great dad. Another year I sewed him a pillow with photos of the kids that I had printed onto iron-on transfers and used to decorate it. Photo coasters are another great idea that dad might appreciate. A quick look at Pinterest or Google will give you lots of fun ideas for Father’s Day gifts that you can make. This site, for instance, has 42 interesting craft ideas that dad might enjoy. The kids or grandkids can also get in on the creation process and make it even more special.

7. Something sports-related.

If your dad likes sports, he will most likely enjoy a sports-related gift for Father’s Day. While ballpark tickets are probably not in the under-$20 range, there are plenty of sports-related items that fall within your budget. Discount stores like Ollie’s or Five Below sell sports books that your dad might enjoy reading at a fraction of the original cost. Five Below also has many other sports-related items for local baseball and football teams, and nothing costs more than $5.

If you have a local team in your area that your dad likes, you can usually visit the team store without paying for a ticket and see what items may be available there for under $20. Sometimes you can find coupons online or in the newspaper, and most team stores have a clearance section where previous years’ merchandise is discounted.

Ordering online may be another option for sports memorabilia. Most online stores have discounted items, and be sure to check for coupon codes that may save you even more. If autographed items or sports cards are more to your dad’s liking, online sites like eBay have made these items more affordable. You may be able to get an item signed by one of your dad’s favorites for less than $20 if you look carefully.

8. A gift card.

While $20 or less may not seem like much of a gift card, you may be able to buy a higher value card on eBay for a discount or exchange a gift card you received but won’t use for one your dad would like through Cardpool. The right gift card can still be meaningful and will allow your dad to enjoy buying what he wants or having a nice meal out at your expense.

9. A personal letter.

Finding a meaningful Father’s Day gift for less than $20 may seem difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. Consider writing a letter to tell your dad what he means to you — although this will cost you next to nothing, your thoughtfulness will mean everything to him. Maybe your dad doesn’t come across as sentimental or doesn’t express his feelings very well–my dad didn’t–but as I grew older I realized that not showing your feelings doesn’t mean you don’t have any. Chances are, no matter how gruff your dad is, he would be deeply touched by a heartfelt letter and would keep it forever.

10. A subscription paid over time.

Many magazine subscriptions cost less than $20 a year now, while other types of subscriptions like the beef jerky-of-the-month club may have a greater cost. The great thing about subscriptions, however, is that they can often be paid in installments, so your $20 now can buy a great gift and you can pay the rest off in subsequent months. Subscriptions are an alternative to putting a more expensive gift on your credit card, which often ends up costing up to double the amount or more if you pay it off over many months at 18 percent interest.

Where to Get the Cash for a Gift

For many years my family was so far behind in our budget that we really had no money to spend on gifts, but somehow we always managed to do something to show our appreciation for those we loved. There are many ways to get a little extra cash with which to buy a Father’s Day gift. Here are three quick and easy ones.

  1. Cash in some survey rewards from sites like SSI-Opinion Outpost or Survey Junkie. If you’re not already signed up to earn gift cards and cash for completing surveys at these sites, get started now.
  2. Complete some tasks on Fiverr–at $5 each, it shouldn’t take too long to earn $20 to get Dad something nice.
  3. Sign up for Trim online or through the app, and the service will automatically find ways to save you money like renegotiating your cable bill or ending subscriptions you’re not using (with your approval, of course).

With all these ideas and tips at your fingertips, it will be a cinch to show your dad how much he means to you and honor him properly on his special day. Don’t let the opportunity pass–your time with your dad is limited, so make the most of it and give him a special Father’s Day gift so he knows you care.

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