If you’ve got one at home, you’ll know that they can be a nightmare to buy for at this time of year… yup, we’re talking Dads! With an annoying tendency to go ahead and buy whatever they’ve been coveting regardless of seasonal gifting convention, we’re imposing a shopping moratorium next year from September onwards!
In the meantime, we invited a few of our favourite Dads to share what they’re hoping to find under the tree this year, so go ahead and “borrow” a little inspiration, mama… we won’t tell!
Before moving to Hong Kong three years ago Karim spent almost a decade in Shanghai where he was a partner at the now iconic restaurant company Element Fresh. Today he is Head of Programmes at the Global Institute For Tomorrow (GIFT), an independent think-tank providing content-rich and intellectually challenging executive education from an Asian worldview. In his spare time he attempts gluten-free baking and acts as sous-chef to his wife Rebecca who is expecting their first child in March. Karim shares a man’s perspective on pregnancy in The Daddy Diaries.
1. Daddy & Me Swimming Classes. From $900 for an intensive course.
Available via Splash Swimming and Platypus Aquatics, amongst others.
We live on an island so being able to swim is a must, and you’re never too young to start learning. Getting infants into the water as early as possible is not only great fun but also practical and safe. I know from a few friends that having a toddler with dolphin-like swimming skills makes those vacations by the pool a lot less nerve-wracking. Weekend swim classes also provide an opportunity for some valuable dad and baby bonding times so infant swimming classes are first up on the wish list. There are plenty of options in Hong Kong depending on where you live and the time of year, but Platypus Aquatics and Splash Swimming – Aqua Baby both come highly rated and offer courses for infants from 4 months and up.
2. Darth Vader and Son by Jeffrey Brown. Approx. $100.
Available from Amazon
Up next is a bit of fun reading material! Darth Vader and Son by Jeffrey Brown is not really for bedtime stories, although the little ones might find the illustrations entertaining. This is a book for parents, in particular for geek dads and especially for Star Wars fan dads. It is a light-hearted look at what might have been had Darth been a present and active father to four year old Luke and includes classic moments like Luke using the force to raid the cookie jar and lines from Darth like “when I was your age, we didn’t even have star destroyers.”
3. Bluedio Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones. Approx $760.
Available from Amazon
The next gift could be considered a bit insensitive, but these are just as useful for mamas as for dad! Having a pair of Bluedio Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones in the house means the TV/music volume won’t have to compete with baby’s screaming or toddler’s musical toys. Whether dad needs his fix of Top Gear or mum has finally gotten around to watching last year’s Greys Anatomy, as long as only one parent is using these at a time they are a great gift!
4. Poco Plus Child Carrier Approx. $2015
Available online at Rei or in store at Escapade Sports
There are so many great hikes around Hong Kong and having an infant shouldn’t keep you off the mountain. In fact, if you have the right gear weekend hikes, like the swimming classes, can be a great bonding opportunity for dads and little ones. This top-of-the-line baby carrier from Osprey would make an excellent Christmas present for dads who love the outdoors. It is also a strategic gift that will encourage dad to get out of the house with baby and leave mum in peace for a few hours at the weekend! The carrier is suitable for children from 6-24 months old or slightly younger infants if they can support their heads already.
5. Professional Home Blender by Blendtec Approx. $5000
Available from Blendtec Hong Kong
Anything that saves time or makes life more convenient is a good gift for baby-daddies. Made famous by the Will it Blend? Videos, in which everything from iPads, Kindles, pool cues and even skeletons are put to the test; a Blendtec blender is every smoothie-loving dad’s dream gift (not to mention it’ll come in handy when its time to start blending baby food). It is a pretty powerful, and therefore noisy, piece of equipment so you might want to wear your new Bluedio’s while you blend…
The Techie Dad
Andreas Rosboch is nominally a stay-at-home dad but stays busy. He has worked for over twenty years in high technology; he consults on networks and computers; he wrote the invaluable Hiring and Managing Domestic Help and is currently studying to be an airline pilot. He has built his own computers for the past twenty years and is an inveterate technology and science fiction fan.
1. Kindle Paperwhite. Approx. $1080, with free shipping to Hong Kong. Available from Amazon
The perfect solution for booklovers who don’t have much shelf space in their Hong Kong apartments, this little gem stores up to 1500 books. Contrary to popular belief, it displays not only Amazon-sold books, but pretty much any ebook, as well as PDFs and Word documents. You can even get newspaper and magazine subscriptions on it (is that a birthday present-hint, Andreas?!). Unlike a tablet, the screen is not backlit, but “side-lit”, leading to much less eyestrain and an astounding battery life measured in weeks. A bonus is that it won’t disturb Mrs. Techie’s sleep when you want to finish that latest Peter F. Hamilton or John Ringo novel. It weighs less than half as much as an iPad Air and fits in the cargo pocket of a pair of shorts.
Best of all, your kids won’t steal it to play games. A Techie Dad win!
2. Logitech Harmony Touch Universal Remote. $2990.
Available from Wan Chai Computer Centre and various other outlets.
Tired of four remotes? Tired of explaining to your family the eleven steps required to watch a BluRay movie on your home theatre system? Get a Logitech Harmony Universal Remote. It allows you to set up “actitivies” such as “Watch NOW TV”, “Play Wii” and “Watch BluRay Player”. You then program any inputs and special commands required to set up the system for that activity. All the user has to do is press one button on the touch screen and everything is sorted. As an added bonus for the seasoned techie, the hours spent setting it up are a classic tech frustration/elation grind.
3. Netgear ReadyNAS RN31200. Approx. $3720.
Available from Hightech Computer in the Wan Chai Computer Centre, as well as various other outlets.
Fed up with data smeared across your family’s multiple devices with no hope in case of a disk failure? Take the leap and buy a Network Attached Storage device. The ReadyNAS features redundant storage (but don’t forget to back up anyway. No, really…) and stores all your family’s data, from documents to pictures and videos. It also acts as a Time Machine target for your Macs and can feed any DLNA compliant (if you’re a techie, you will know what this means) device, for example by streaming videos directly to an LED TV. It is tiny and so silent it won’t disturb you, even in the living room. It can send you emails when it detects anything untoward. The only downside is that it may take a bit of time to set up just right. If you feel four Terabytes isn’t enough for the many, many home movies of your kids, there are two even more capacious models.
4. Lifetrons speakers. $498.
Available from the Lifetrons HK online shop.
These tiny chargeable speakers are perfect for travel. They juice up via USB and the charge lasts for weeks with moderate use. Perfect for singing along to Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now” in the hotel room shower on a family vacation.
5. Atomic Floyd SuperDarts +Remote. Approx. $2470.
Available via the Atomic Floyd website.
Made in metal, these are the ultimate headphones for your smartphone or tablet. The price is high but the sound is astounding. Two drivers in each earpiece will make you think that you are hearing it live, and the level of detail on the design is astonishing. For example, the lower part of the cord is Kevlar mesh coated to decrease tangle, while the upper part has a smooth coating to minimize interference when it rubs against a shirt collar. The only unfortunate side effect is that any songs in your collection with less than stellar bitrate may sound somewhat flat. This is techie nirvana!
The Sporty Dad
Lachlan Wolfers is a tax lawyer by day, and wannabe athlete by night. In 2010 he completed a grueling Ironman triathlon as a precondition to his wife marrying him; has run the Boston marathon in a tad over 3 hours; and is an all-round sports fan. His wife Jane is a champion runner (and Sassy Mama regular contributor!), and he is Dad to Henry, aged 2. Here is what is in Lachlan’s letter to Santa this year…
1. Sennheiser Adidas PMX685i sports headphones Approx. $440
Available from Amazon
Most headphones are not designed for serious runners – they either fall out too easily, or the sound quality is badly affected by sweat. These headphones are clearly designed with both running and sound quality in mind.
2. Spotify premium subscription $48 per month
Available from Spotify HK
Now that you have the headphones, you need the tunes to match! Get Dad a Spotify premium subscription, and he can choose from amongst 20 million songs… Ok, this may be a little time-consuming, so if he’s seriously into sport, why not pre-load his favourite iGadget with some inspirational music like Eye of the Tiger or Chariots of Fire? Before you know it, he’ll feel like a champion, (even if he doesn’t run like one!).
3. Cervélo S5 with Zipp wheels
Price on application via Cervélo’s official HK Distributor. Call Iron Ore Bikes at 3576 3839 for more info.
If Dad’s into cycling or triathlon, then its difficult to beat the latest Cervélo bike. The lightweight S5 is very very fast and with the added bling of Zipp carbon wheels, Dad will have all the gear of a Tour de France champion, but without those annoying and potentially career-ending after effects of EPO or performing-enhancing drugs!
4. Yepp Mini Front Child Bike Seat Approx.$1240
Available from Amazon
So you may not want to attach this to your fancy new Cervélo… but what better way to exercise than to take your toddler on a bike ride? With these front-facing bike seats, the little tacker gets a great view of the road ahead while protected by a Perspex screen and a safety harness, and you have better control. I first used one of these when Henry turned one, and he absolutely loves it! It’s a win for your fitness, for your kid, and for your significant other, who gets a lie-in while you’re pedaling!
5. 2014 FIFA World Cup tickets World Cup Final tickets from $21,000; Economy class flights to Rio De Janiero start from $29,000
Available via Ticketbis HK and Skyscanner HK
Ok, its a very long shot, but if my wife really wants me to have a happy Christmas and be eternally in her debt, then maybe, just maybe, she will buy me tickets to what must surely be the party of the century… the FIFA World Cup, held next year in Brazil. Be entranced by the skills of Messi, laugh out loud as England predictably falter in the quarterfinals and then blame the referee / the coach / the captain, but above all be ready to make an emergency evacuation if Brazil don’t win. What do you think my chances are? (Lachlan, we think you’ll be lucky!)