Frugal Father's Day

Posted September 6th, 2005 by Penny Wise

What a difference a year makes! Father's Day last year was carefully orchestrated and expensive. We took Noel on a mystery tour, where the first stop was a sumptuous breakfast at (where else?) my favourite caf. From there, we spent a happy time at one of the local lakes feeding the ducks and playing on the playground. Nobody else wanted to leave the lake, but I dragged everyone off to a beautiful vineyard restaurant about an hour away where I had booked a table for their Father's Day special lunch. Which was absolute mayhem and bursting with people who had all had the same wonderful idea. We queued endlessly, the kids fidgeted and whined and the afternoon ended with Noel and the boys playing basketball in the car park as everyone was going stir crazy. While Noel did appreciate my efforts, I was amazed to find that his favourite part of the day had been feeding the ducks. 'We didn't really need to do all that, did we?' he said gently. In my efforts to provide him with a pleasant day to remember, I had forgotten one thing - to keep it simple. At the end of the day, all this Dad wanted was some quality, stress-free time with his family, not tearing around the countryside from one activity to the next.

So, this year we kept it simple. Armed with inspiration from the Vault, the kids and I set about putting their Dad's present together and decided to create a hamper. We were going to use a box and decorate it, but then we found a stylish metal desk tray in The Warehouse for $4.00 and decided that would do the job perfectly - and he did need a desk tray. While in the store, we also found a nice photo frame for $7.00. We got home and the boys made pictures and cards to go in the box. It's a standing joke in our house that Noel's taste in music leaves a lot to be desired, so the boys went through their mother's huge music collection and spent the afternoon choosing songs they thought Dad would like 'to bring him into the 21st century'. We then put them on a CD, so he would have his own compilation to listen to in the car (much of his job is spent driving). After that, we looked on the Internet for Rocky Road recipes and had heaps of fun making that - so many cool ingredients for the kids to add and stir! We wrapped it all nicely and added it to the Father's Day box, along with the photo frame, in which we had put in a lovely photo of Ali and his Dad fishing together. We didn't have a recent one of Liam with his Dad, so we put in a second empty frame, with the note 'Dad, please can you take me fishing so we can have another photo for this frame?' The boys were pleased with their handiwork and it was so much fun putting it all together. We also made some peanut brownies for their grandfather, which they chose to do themselves 'because Pops loves peanuts'. Then, we wrapped Noel's box up with cellophane and ribbon kept from previous gifts and hid it until the morning.

Sunday morning arrived and the boys and I jumped out of bed and cooked a huge slap-up breakfast for their Dad while he stayed in bed, blissfully unaware of the havoc going on in the kitchen. The boys set the breakfast tray (complete with flower) and one carefully carried it up the stairs, while the other sneaked behind carrying the hamper. Unfortunately our entrance didn't go entirely as planned, as Noel had been fast asleep, dead to the world and our hearty 'HAPPY FATHER'S DAY' yell scared the living daylights out of him. All we received was a severe growling for waking him up, until he opened his eyes and saw two earnest little faces waiting to show Dad their gifts! Scare tactics over, we proceeded to enjoy a simple day at home, playing games with the boys, planting seeds and helping each other in the garden. Total cost of the day was less than $20 but the relaxing day we spent enjoying each other's company was worth much more than that. Noel loved his hamper and enjoyed this year's Father's Day far more in the comfort of his own home than cooped up in a city restaurant!

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