“My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person — he believed in me.” – Jim Valvano
When I think of my father, there are poignant and particular things that come to mind: There’s the beep of the coffee maker when it’s finished brewing, and his hands pouring the hot coffee into his favorite sunshine yellow mugs from Hawaii; the countless warm San Diego evenings spent on the front patio where he barbecues chicken drumsticks or flips homemade burgers; and his belief in the power of a clean car to make you feel good about life, especially when it’s washed by hand on the driveway.
Father’s Day is a time when we celebrate our dad’s unique quirky life lessons. As the youngest daughter in a large family, I was in a constant state of watching and observing my dad and the things he loved and that inspired him. I’d give gifts for holidays that reflected his ever-growing collection of interests, like a bright ceramic toucan mug, a turquoise buddha to look over his homegrown pineapple plants, or a book on architecture or tropical smoothies.
Regardless of the gifts that came and went, there were three favorite DIY Father’s Day gifts from his daughter that never failed to be appreciated by my dad (and, I would suspect, most dads)—homemade coffee syrup, car wash soap, and barbecue rubs. To me, these are easy DIYs that offer gratitude and seem to scream “dad.” There’s a timelessness about them I love—and a feel-good emotion that comes along with handmade Father’s Day gifts and gift basket ideas he can actually use.
DIY Homemade Vanilla Coffee Syrup Recipe to Gift a Wakeful Morning
My dad is an early morning coffee appreciator. He’ll get it all set up the night before so that when he wakes up, he just has to press a button (a habit I’ve enjoyed myself). While the coffee brews and the scents permeate the air, he takes a moment to saunter around the front yard, talking to his palm trees, plumerias, and banana plants.
He typically drinks his coffee black, but he does love sweetening things up every so often on special mornings. That’s where this simple DIY homemade vanilla coffee syrup recipe comes into play. He’s a fan of vanilla, though you can also experiment with flavors like caramel, pumpkin spice, or chocolate, if that suits your father’s fancy.
- 1 3/4 cups water
- 1 1/2 cups cane sugar
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 vanilla bean, split in half
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- Over medium-high heat, whisk sugar, water, and the vanilla bean together in a saucepan. Bring this mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat.
- Simmer on low until the sugar dissolves, about 5-7 minutes.
- Remove from heat and mix in your vanilla extract.
- When cooled, take out the vanilla bean and pour the syrup in a glass jar.
- Keep in the fridge to give dad’s coffee a bit of morning magic!
To turn this gift into a coffee lover’s dream gift basket, you can include the following in a vintage coffee canister:
- A bag of organic or craft coffee beans
- A personalized dad mug
- A coffee plant
- A roast your own coffee kit
- A new French press
Homemade Dry Spice Rub Recipes: Gifts for the BBQ Dad
As an avocado grower and botany enthusiast, my father lives outside. On warm evenings (and even some rainy ones) he can be found at the barbecue. He grills up everything from huge salmon steaks in fish baskets to chicken drumsticks slathered with BBQ sauce, racks of ribs to hot link sausages that he slices and hands out on toothpicks before dinner. Many of the dads I’ve met over the course of my life share a somewhat similar, almost ceremonial, appreciation for lighting up the barbecue.
To help up his barbecue game, and to make grilling even more of an event, try a couple homemade dry spice rub recipes as a Father’s Day gift this year. Dry rubs add tons of flavor to meat, fish, and chicken and can be easily customized so you can get really creative.
Here are a few of my favorite dry spice rub recipes:
Blackening Spice Rub Recipe
- 1/4 cup garlic powder
- 1/4 cup onion powder
- 1/4 cup thyme
- 1/4 cup paprika
- 4 tsp black pepper
- 4 tsp oregano
- 4 tsp basil
- 2 tsp cayenne pepper
*Try this on beef, chicken, seafood, or pork—anything you can grill!
Lemon and Herb Rub Recipe
- 2 Tbsp onion powder
- 2 Tbsp garlic powder
- 2 Tbsp thyme
- 2 Tbsp parsley
- 2 Tbsp Italian seasoning
- 4 Tbsp lemon pepper
*Try this on salmon served with tartar sauce
The Everyday Rub Recipe
- 6 Tbsp sea salt
- 2 Tbsp black pepper
- 2 Tbsp brown sugar
- 2 Tbsp onion powder
- 2 Tbsp garlic powder
- 2 Tbsp paprika
- 1 Tbsp mustard powder
- 1 Tbsp thyme
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
*Try this on chicken drumsticks drizzled with a bit of maple syrup
Here are some other gift ideas to craft a gift basket for the BBQ master:
- A personalized BBQ spatula
- Grilling towels
- BBQ sauces
- A BBQ apron
- A BBQ mitt of his favorite sport’s team
DIY Car Wash Soap Alternative for Dad’s Sparkling Clean Ride
When I got my first car, my dad was a big advocate for keeping it clean from the inside out. I’d drive up our long meandering driveway, park in my spot outside, throw on some old clothes, and get ready to wash.
There’s something therapeutic about filling up a bucket with warm soapy water, rinsing the car, then towel drying it—especially when dad and daughter are doing it together. Making your own DIY car wash soap alternative is an often unexpected gift that will have your dad saying, “I didn’t know you could make homemade car wash soap!”
But, you can. And it’s super easy!
- 1/4 cup baking soda
- 1/4 cup dishwashing liquid
- 1-gallon bucket or jug
Pour your baking soda into your jug then add the dishwashing liquid. Add enough water to fill the jug almost up to the top. Shake well, then when you’re ready to wash your car, pour 1 cup of the car wash soap into a water bucket and add water. Then, wash away!
If you want to turn this into a dad kit gift basket, here are some more sudsy gift ideas for the car wash enthusiast:
- A microfiber wash mitt
- A car wash sponge
- Microfiber towels
- Liquid wax
- Car polish
- Tire shine
- A cool bucket to hold all the gifts, and then the sudsy water
When I think of my dad, I think of early morning coffee dates on the front patio talking about school and future dreams, nights spent barbecuing with the entire family while a bonfire glows in the fire pit behind us, and the feeling of freedom that a new and clean car gives.
Whether you’re making coffee syrup, BBQ rubs, car wash soap, or all of the above, my hope is that these gifts inspire you to give dad a homemade gift this year that’s from the heart and that speaks to the special relationship you share.
For FREE Father’s Day printable coloring sheets for dad and grandpa, courtesy the elves, click here.