Father’s Day: the alternative gift guide | ActionAid UK

Cora Bauer

Senior Media Officer

I’ve always struggled with what present to get my dad for Father’s Day (Sunday 19th June, for those of you that need reminding). It arrives just a couple of months after his birthday so by the time Father’s Day comes around I’m usually out of interesting gift ideas.

17-year-old girl standing in a field in Kayin State, Myanmar, holding a goat, part of ActionAids goat breeding programme
17-year-old Nan San Nwe Win holding a goat near her village in Myanmar

To make it even trickier, my dad is not very materialistic. His main likes consist of music, bikes and books. He isn’t fussed with the usual Father’s Day fare of ties, cufflinks, socks and whiskey.

When I was about 14, in a rush of last-minute Father’s Day panic, I scribbled him a “cheque” with the promise of a trip to the cinema and popcorn, on me. Needless to say I never actually fulfilled my promise, despite his many hints, and the reminder of what a terrible present it was and rubbish daughter I am has haunted me ever since.

This year, I am determined to get it right. I am well aware of the arguments that Father’s Day is a manufactured and overly-hyped day designed to get people to spend money. But I love my dad. And just like we celebrate my mum each year, I think he deserves a day where we celebrate him.

Eating cereal at Yosemite National Park, California, 1990

This is a guy who changed my nappies as a baby, bought me tampons when I had my first period and was too scared to go to the shops (horribly awkward - for me not him), took a week-long road trip with me across the east coast of the USA when I declared that was where I wanted to go to university, taught me how to fix my bike and tie my shoes and generally has been a total hero.

Dad deserves a gift that’s different, one that he would appreciate and care about. This year I am going to get him something meaningful.

So if you, like me, are stuck for ideas on what to get your dad, look no further: I’ve compiled some alternative Father’s Day gifts that won't break the bank. Whichever one you choose, your dad gets a cool paper or e-card explaining the gift. You can even add your own special message. Plus, they will help people living in some of the world's poorest places to change their lives for good. Cheers Dad.

1. Buy a bike

Now I’ve said my dad likes bikes, but he already owns one and definitely doesn’t need another, so this is a great alternative.

In the Upper West region of Ghana, up to 40% of girls don't go to school, seriously damaging their chances of a life free of poverty in the future. For many girls living in rural areas, one of the problems is how far away the school is - it can take many hours walking on often dangerous roads to get there. That's where the bike comes in!

This gift can help provide girls aged 10-15 with bicycles, which they use to travel to and from school. With an education, they can gain the skills they need to earn a living and ultimately have many more opportunities in life.

Buy a bicycle

2. Choose climate-resilient chickens

This one is a great option for your science-mad Dad. In order to stand up against the devastating effect that climate change can have on people’s food supplies and livelihoods, ActionAid has invented the climate-resilient chicken!

No I’m not clucking crazy, this is a heavyweight cockerel bred with a local heat-resilient hen, to create a Super Chicken that can tolerate the high temperatures better, and grow big and strong.

This chicken could help families around the world by producing nutritious eggs that they can eat or sell at the market.

Cool right? 

Choose chickens

3. Go football crazy

For the football fanatic dad, why not give him something he’ll love - his own team! This gift brings the joy of football to kids who don’t have much. If you buy football equipment for children in Malawi you'll be giving kids everything they need to learn to play the beautiful game, stay healthy, build their confidence and work as a team.

Buy footballs for kids

4. Buy a beehive

Now, this is a gift you won’t see anywhere else.

For the poorest people of Uganda, earning a living is extremely hard. And with little money, they can't buy essentials like medicine, or give their children a life-changing education.

This gift could help women keep bees, produce honey and generate income. By providing hives, protective clothing and training, women can harvest honey to sell and provide for their family. 

Buy a beehive

5. Get him a goat!

Now we’re ActionAid, so we couldn’t let a special occasion go by without mentioning goatsWhy not get your dad a goat-breeding scheme? 

By rearing goats, families can drink their milk and sell any left over. When kids are born, some are kept to grow the herd. Others are sold so the family can buy tools and seeds. It’s the charity gift that keeps on giving - no kidding.

Give a goat

These are just some of the alternative gifts ActionAid can help you with this Father’s Day.  For more ideas and inspiration, browse our full range of life-changing gifts on the Gifts in Action website.

Shop for Gifts in Action


Photos: Greg Funnell/ActionAid, Cora Bauer.