Gift guides can be problematic because they are written at a specific point in time — and time moves on. For example, a gift guide written for Christmas in 2010 will still show up in search results today, even though it’s over a decade out of date and the product recommendations are often no longer relevant.
But what is also often the case is that the gift buyer punts without putting in much personal effort to the endeavor.
On top of that, currently we still face supply chain, inventory, and delivery issues that can thwart the arrival of even the perfect physical gift. So this year, rather than highlighting products I’ll focus on the process of coming up with a gift for Father’s Day.
I’ll then close with my product of the week, one of my favorite laptops which just went through a significant upgrade, the HP Elite Dragonfly Max Notebook.
The Parental Gift Process
Your parents gave you life, protected you when you were unable to protect yourself, had your back when you needed them to be there, and likely funded, or will fund, you until you get your feet on the ground.
They will also be your safety net if you get into trouble. Now, if this isn’t how your parents were, then you probably aren’t buying Mother’s Day or Father’s Day gifts, and you’ll not find the rest of this very useful.
Your best gift to them is something that provides a lasting memory of some of the better times you had to together; forgiveness for a slight that you may have hung onto overly long, and recognition for the massive amount of effort and work they put into helping make you who you are.
So the first step in your search for that perfect gift is to think through what you know about your parent. Not just what they most like and the easy choice of a sports gift, flowers, or card — but what they most liked doing with you.
Particularly as they get older and their memories begin to degrade, a remembrance connected to something they did for you, or you did together, that is unique would be more appreciated than a gadget they may never use and doesn’t truly reflect how you feel about them.
The process begins with just thinking through your life with them and picking a moment that meant a lot to you and then finding that unique thing and making it personal.
For kids that helped their father build something: looking at their tools, picking one that is worn out, and then replacing it with a new one engraved (any trophy shop can do this) with a loving remembrance and your name. For instance, something like “Thanks for the treehouse love.”
The gift doesn’t need to be expensive, but it should be personal and cause them to reflect on that moment you want them to recall every time they pick it up. Trophy shops can typically turn things around in a couple of days, so you still have time. Though other personalized items can take longer to produce, so now would be a good time to get started.
Alternatively, this doesn’t need to be a physical item but instead a gift of your time. One easy, to get anyway, gift is a card with a commitment that you intend to keep calling or visiting the parent more regularly, particularly if they are in a retirement community and may feel especially lonely and vulnerable.
If your parents were there for you, now is your opportunity to be there for them. Prepare for your call or visit by reading up on things they are interested in, instead of just forcing them to ask probing questions about your life to keep the conversation going. Rather than checking your watch, hoping the visit will be over soon, make them feel important through your common interests.
Have No Regrets
As I’ve aged, I increasingly regret not taking the time to truly get to know the people who raised me and to formally thank them for their effort. What I’m suggesting is as much a gift for you, so you’ll have memories as you age of engaging with the people you might have taken for granted as you were growing up; and not regret, as I do, not thanking them for what they’ve done for you.
Days like Father’s Day are an opportunity to remember and appreciate the things these folks have done on your behalf, the sacrifices they have made, the annoyance of dealing with you as you were figuring out your place in the world, and to make up for the harsh words and regrettable arguments you’ve undoubtedly had as you were growing up.
Conveying that you remember and appreciate what they have done for you — and giving something that they will use, see, or help them recall their kind acts — would be vastly more powerful than a new smartphone or gadget; particularly if they don’t know or want to learn how to use it.
Finally, your kids will eventually pick up your behaviors, and much like you’ll enjoy watching them deal with their problematic children in the future, they are likely to treat you how you now treat your parents as a learned behavior.
You wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for your parents. If they, or another influential parental figure played a valuable role in your life, simply reminding them that you appreciate what they’ve done, you remember and you care about them, will have a more significant positive impact on you and them than a tech gift.
Often a gift choice inadvertently tells your parent you don’t care for them because you put little thought into the effort and use it to assuage your guilt that you don’t have time for them. Make time. They’ll be gone sooner than you think. But the regrets will last the rest of your life.
The HP Elite Dragonfly Max Notebook
The HP Elite Dragonfly Max is likely the closest to a Steve Jobs Apple product than any other laptop currently in the market, including a Mac. What made Apple products different, and I’d argue more compelling when Jobs ran the company, was that he took a personal interest in their creation. Thus, they were uniquely designed around what he thought was important.
This device is Andy Rhodes’ idea of what the perfect laptop should be. Much like Apple products were built for Steve Jobs, this laptop was created for Andy, who came to HP from Dell.
It gave up its unique blue/black color for black this year. But otherwise, it is a technology and design showcase. Weighing in at 2.46 lbs., with a lighted keyboard, and 4G and 5G WAN options coupled with Wi-Fi 6, it has an unusual number of connectivity options.
The Dragonfly Max has some cool, unique features I haven’t seen before. For instance, it will wake up when placed on a table, go into hibernation when you put it into your backpack, and it will go to a lower-powered mode when it is placed on your lap (to keep you from frying your privates).
This laptop has an interesting new pandemic feature called HP Easy Clean, which allows you to shut down the touch screen and keyboard to disinfect the entire device without needing to put it to sleep or power it off — and its finish resists these cleaners. It has one of the best keyboards ever put into a laptop, short of gaming products.
For those beautiful Teams, Webex, or Zoom meetings, it has a 5 MP camera designed for video conferencing and the first, fourth world-facing microphone I’ve seen in a product (very aggressive AI-based noise cancellation).
The processor options are unusual and connected to the Intel EVO effort, which potentially assures a higher level of performance. The other is connected to vPro for a higher level of management. Both are Intel i7 based, and both have Intel’s new enhanced Xe graphics.
The Dragonfly does have the 13.3″ HP Sure View 1,000 nit display, which works well outdoors and provides one of the best protections against people viewing your screen in the market. This display has an integrated blue light blocker that protects your eyes but doesn’t change the image noticeably.
This laptop isn’t a cheap date, with a starting price of $2,265, but high-profile products rarely are. But it comes the closest to what I’d build if I had Andy’s authority — and it is arguably HP’s most feature-rich product.
Regardless of what I said above, I’d be good getting this as a Father’s Day present. Just saying.
Sadly, before I finished this column, the laptop sold out online but might still be available in stores. Nevertheless, because this laptop is currently the most advanced HP makes, the HP Elite Dragonfly Max Notebook is my product of the week.