Celebrating a first Father’s Day – and acknowledging the wonder and challenges that becoming a parent can bring – is an opportunity to reconnect with your partner. It’s a time to recognize and reward your other half for embarking on this parenthood journey with you.
Father’s Day can also be a time to celebrate any men in your life supporting your transition into motherhood, whether it’s your own father, friends, or other father figures in your family’s life.
Consider the following options for celebrating the dads who enrich our lives in so many ways. While some are geared towards new dads, we’ve found that many of them work well for veteran dads too. In fact, I've shared some photos of my boys doing a pretty good job celebrating my husband! Have any other great ideas for Father's Day activities? Comment below!
Send Him On A Sentimental Scavenger Hunt.
If you’re on an early-morning schedule anyway, why not have a little fun with it? Let Dad sleep in, while you strap your baby into the carrier so you can set up. Create a series of clever clues leading to locations throughout the house, culminating in a card and small gift. As you’re doing this, you can have the coffee brewing and a favorite like French Toast Casserole or Quiche Lorraine cooking in the oven.
Since young babies are usually not up for theater or fine dining, a family day date outdoors is a great bet. Grab the carrier, sling, or stroller and enjoy the sunshine. Nature offers the perfect chance to reconnect away from the distractions of technology, chores, and errands.
- Hike – If you’re not sure where to go, search online for the nearest “kid-friendly” hiking trails. If you’re a member of a Facebook parent group specific to your geographical region, you can ask fellow parents for suggestions. Bring sunscreen, water, and snacks, and plan for an easy dinner, as you’ll all likely be exhausted by the day’s end.
- Swim – Most babies have a natural love of water, which makes swimming an ideal activity. Scope out a warm pool with an ozone filter if possible. Buy an age-appropriate floatation device to give your baby a thrilling sense of buoyancy. Also worth considering for an extra-festive twist: matching family swimwear. Sunday Swim Day can be a Father’s Day special – or it might be so much fun, you’ll make it a weekly ritual.
- Bike – For the active dad, a baby bike seat or trailer can be a rewarding splurge. A leisurely bike ride has a way of clearing the mind, particularly if you live in an area with dedicated biking trails.
- Fish – National Go Fishing Day is on June 18th each year, but you can celebrate early if the dad in your life is the sort who enjoys a day on the water. Besides, what makes a better dinner than a fresh catch? Make sure you protect your baby from the sun by using a shaded carrier and hat, and stick to smaller streams. Expect to take a few breaks for diaper changes, picnicking, and play.
- Golf – If the dad in your life enjoys golf, he may appreciate a few hours of solo tee time. Alternatively, you can go mini-golfing. While most kids won’t develop much of an interest in mini-golf until around five, babies might be interested in the colorful balls and windmills.
- Garden – Some of the dads in your lives might find gardening to be relaxing. In fact, one study from the Netherlands found that gardening was better at reducing stress than reading. For your baby, spread out a picnic blanket with toys for tummy time while you and the eco-conscious dad get your hands dirty.
- Escape – Head to your local zoo or wild animal park to see animal dads up close. Male seahorses carry and protect the family eggs for several weeks. Penguin, sandpiper, and ostrich fathers all incubate their eggs. Marmoset fathers carry newborns on their backs. The father bat-eared fox typically spends more time grooming and guarding the offspring than the mother does. If you’re not into crowds, spend a few hours on your own quiet stretch of sand at the beach, checking out the marine life.
Create a Keepsake.
Family art projects can be a fun and relaxing way to spend an afternoon. Purchase and organize the supplies in advance to make the activity effortless. The baby may be too young to join in, so have a swing or playpen ready, or plan your art project around your baby’s nap schedule.
- Scrapbook – What better way to make use of the thousands of baby photos you’ve taken than putting them in a scrapbook? The art supply store is full of stickers, borders, scrapbook paper, and stamps that give you plenty of creative liberty. Relive some of the year’s best memories, while creating a keepsake for years to come.
- Shadow Box – Using an old dresser drawer or a picture frame, you can assemble highlights of fatherhood. Select photos, ticket stubs, pamphlets, newspaper or magazine clippings, apparel, and other sentimental mementos you’ve collected, and paste or place them in the different compartments. The end result is a cool piece of artwork to hang in your home or at Dad’s work. Search online for great inspiration.
- Movie – If you’re tech-savvy, create a movie called A Day In The Life Of Daddy & [Insert Child’s Name Here]. Film Dad going through a day of diaper changes, feedings, naps, and playtimes to capture a funny and thoughtful snapshot of what life as a new parent is really like. It doesn’t have to be high production value. You can even do a photo montage. Both you and the dad in your life will love watching the footage with your child when he or she is older.
Start a Photoshoot Tradition.
Start your own tradition of Father’s Day photoshoots. Looking at how much your baby changes from year to year will delight both you and the dad in your life.
- D-A-D: Most craft stores have giant letters you can buy to create a three-photo spread of baby holding up D-A-D. Recreate the scene each year. Lying down on a flat surface usually works best for babies, but research online to find other ideas for the perfect staging.
- Babysuiting – One of the latest social media crazes involves dressing up a baby in his or her parent's suit. It’s so funny how you can picture the baby as a grownup when wearing adult clothes. Fathers may just swoon with pride to see their little babies dressed up like big shots.
- Nostalgia – Wistful dads may enjoy recreating with their baby the childhood photos they took with their dads once upon a time. Sift through old albums for ideas – perhaps a push on the backyard tire swing or a trip to a favorite park. If his father is still living, you can also arrange to recreate one of those childhood photos.
- Generations – If you’re celebrating fathers, grandfathers, and even great-grandfathers this year, be sure to assemble everyone for a multigenerational photo. Another neat idea is to take a picture of the baby holding a framed photo of Dad, then take a picture of Dad holding a framed photo of his father, and so on for a final collage that contains at least three generations of fathers.
Throw a Superdad Party.
Some families have groups of friends or siblings who also have young kids. Host a backyard barbecue to give everyone a kid-friendly place to convene. If you’re celebrating your own father, your father-in-law, and your grandfather, you may find the Superdad Party a better option than running around town trying to celebrate all the dads. It’s also nice being close to home for nursing and naps. Here are a few tips to make the day go smoothly:
- Make it a potluck or consider having it catered to alleviate some of the stress.
- If it's in your budget, hire a cleaning service before and/or after the party.
- Set up a bounce house, baby pool, water table, playpen, ball pit, or sandbox to entertain the kids.
- For adults, set up bocce, horseshoes, a Frisbee/disc golf course, or any other favorite activities.
Host a Family Karaoke Night.
All babies love music – and many dads we know do, too! With apps like Baby Karaoke or Lullaby Karaoke and games like Rock Band or Guitar Hero, you don’t need a fancy karaoke machine for the occasion. (There are, however, plenty of machines on the market to choose from, ranging from $20 to $200.) It doesn’t take much to entertain a new baby – a fake microphone and a few YouTube karaoke tracks will often do!
Grab A Quick Bite To Eat.
Dining out isn’t always easy with a newborn, but open-air establishments offer a low-stress option; you can quickly step out for a walk if the baby needs a break. It can even be as simple as going to a stand for great hot dogs, ice cream, or burritos. Beachside dining is also a fun option, as are cafes with patios. Add in a post-meal stroll (with Dad wearing the baby carrier) for memorable quality time.
Consider Getting Him What You Would Want.
Think about what you would want for Mother’s Day. As parents of a newborn or young baby, you might want similar things – whether or not that was true in the past. Check out our Mother’s Day Gift Guide for New Moms for some inspiration.
Bonus! Some Great Father's Day
Activities to Do with Your Partner
When Your First Baby’s Nearly Here:
- Go out to a fancy dinner. You may not have much time to dine out once the baby’s here!
- Splurge on a nice grill and cook a great meal.
- Buy movie, concert, or sporting event tickets for him and his best friends to enjoy a night out.
- Spend the day painting, building the crib, or decorating the nursery.
- Hit the toy store and bookstore for a few special items, like a pull-toy or book he loved as a child.
- Gift him a “New Dad” kit – whatever you think that means for the dad in your life. Go sentimental (a sweet frame just waiting for a baby photo) or funny (Aspirin) – or both!
- Plan a “babymoon” getaway – whether it’s an exotic trip or a romantic night at a local B&B.
- Hire a professional photographer and spend the day doing a baby-themed photoshoot.
- Watch a father-related film like Juno, Knocked Up, Look Who’s Talking, Big Fish, Parenthood, Field of Dreams, To Kill A Mockingbird, or The Pursuit of Happyness. You can even make it a movie marathon!
The urge to plan a “dream day” full of fun activities is understandable, but you’ve got a lot on your plate with a new baby in the house – or on the way. You don’t have to surprise the dad in your life with elaborate plans or spend a fortune. Take comfort in knowing that many dads prefer the simple pleasures – quiet cuddle time with their family, a smile, or a card. Some dads will appreciate if you come up with the plan and tell them exactly what will happen. For other dads, it may be better to float a few options so they can choose how to spend the day. With a new baby, there may be some hitches in the plan, but keep it light – and remember, there’s always next year!