GO BEYOND THE GRILL: Make Dad happier this Father’s Day

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Sunday, June 18, 2016 is Father’s Day. We’ve all done the funny hats and grilling accessories thing. In fact, we posted our own gift ideas list last year. That stuff is fun. But there are only so many gag gifts and gadgets one dad needs. This year, skip the grilling gear and give Dad an experience to remember. This isn’t just a good idea; It’s science!

The division of Psychology informally called Happiness Research has, in the past several years, discovered something interesting: We actually get more happiness from experiences than we do from possessions. Sure, a new car gives us a boost that lasts months, but experiences are more likely to continue a boost in mood for a much longer amount of time. This seems to be due to how we “get used” to having the new car. The “get used to” phenomenon doesn’t apply as much to experiences. This is why you should plan something memorable for dad this year instead of simply getting him more fire pit spits or a power washer for his paver bricks.

There are three elements of any experience that make it a mood-booster: Anticipation of the event; the actual event; and the shared memories of the event. These key factors are needed for premium mood boosting. You know this is true. Sometimes thinking about an upcoming vacation is almost as fun as the trip itself. Then, the trip produces great times that turn into memories – and selfies! – to enjoy for years to come.

The Father’s Day experience you plan for Dad doesn’t have to be elaborate. A nice picnic out on the patio with all the kids will be fine. Order out his favorite foods and get them delivered (a good option if you can’t physically be there). 

An outdoor movie night would be a welcome change of pace. Many moon bounce and party supply companies rent out movie projectors and inflatable screens. Send the word out to the other dads in the neighborhood and have a guy’s night on the Thursday, Friday or Saturday night before Father’s Day. Make sure to get Dad’s favorite movie (or, just go with Die Hard. That’s a classic).

Putting greens are available in kits now. The kit comes with the artificial green carpet to lay over mounds and valleys of your landscape. A private putting green is a gift in the experience category for sure. Consider strategically placing the green near a ledge, so Dad has a place to put his coffee in the morning.

Lawn games have grown up. A bean-bag tossing game known as Cornhole is heating up on the East Coast. Organize a Cornhole Crush tournament with the other Moms and Dads in the neighborhood. Couples are mixed and drawn out of a hat. No spouse teams allowed. Use a tournament bracket to eliminate all but the Cornhole Elite. The final 2 out of 3 series winner takes all. (Have some “all” to offer. Gift cards to the local convenience store, e.g.)

A weekend off is a tough one, as many Dads use weekends to run errands and get through their TO DO lists, but it would surely be appreciated. Issue “No Guilt” nap coupons and TV Remote Get-out-of-jail free cards. Hand out yellow “penalty” flags for any work done. Set up a “Dad Island” outside on the patio with snacks, drinks, comfy lounges and the TV. Add signs and fake palm trees for effect. Dad will love his own personal outdoor living space on the patio, even if it is his only temporarily.

Don’t forget: according the experts, anticipation the event is part of the fun. Whatever experience you plan for Father’s Day, don’t surprise him with it. Make sure to tell Dad it’s coming (and that you won’t take “No” for an answer). He’ll remember this Father’s Day for years to come.