How To Honor Father’s Day Without Commercialism

There are a lot of dates to mark on your calendar in June, the first day of summer, your family vacation to the beach, and Father’s Day.

Dad’s special day is honored once a year, but when did this holiday begin?

The history is interesting and recent in comparison to other nationally recognized days but is no different in that the consumerism centered around it has become out of control.

Right in the middle of Richard Nixon’s re-election campaign in 1972, he made Father’s Day a federal holiday.

Since then, through successful marketing techniques, and America’s love of shopping, the nation spends over $1 billion a year on Father’s Day, according to

This year the celebration falls on Sunday, June 17th, and the National Retail Federation is predicting spending at $133 on average per person. This year’s prediction falls only a few dollars short of last year’s record high.

It hasn’t always been this way. The first Father’s Day celebrated in America was on June 19th, in the year 1910, but only in the state of Washington.

Although Washington state probably got a little economic push for recognizing fathers, it was far from the national surge it is today.

Even when the federal holiday began to get recognition throughout America, many men weren’t fond of the idea.

According to, one historian noted they

scoffed at the holiday’s sentimental attempts to domesticate manliness with flowers and gift-giving, or they derided the proliferation of such holidays as a commercial gimmick to sell more products–often paid for by the father himself.”

In the 1920’s and 30’s there was a push to combine Mother’s Day and Father’s Day for one single holiday called Parents’ Day, but despite activists’ attempts it never took to the general public.

During the Great Depression, the struggling economy forced the retail industry to double down in promoting Father’s Day, and called it the “second Christmas” for men, according to History.

Entering into World War II gave companies an advertising goldmine when they alleged that by buying gifts during Father’s Day you were honoring the troops and supporting the war.

While we are currently not in a world war for the retail industry to capitalize on, the marketers for men’s goods are ingeniously convincing the whole nation that our Fathers need us to buy them gifts to make the day special.

And unlike Mother’s Day where you can put together a bouquet of flowers or buy a new pair of earrings, Dads are usually harder to buy for.

Men typically have more unique hobbies, like electronics, cars, and tools, which make their gifts more expensive.

So, why buy a gift at all for Father’s Day? Make the day extra special by giving a meaningful gift from the heart that can’t be bought from the store.

Some of the best things in life are free. So, let’s look at a few Father’s Day ideas that allow you to spend some quality time with your dad, without spending a fortune.