Honor Dads and Cheer Grads

(Family Features) With the end of the school year and summer fast approaching, gifting occasions are plentiful. Some events – graduations and Father’s Day, in particular – can be a challenge when it comes to finding the perfect present.

Resist the temptation to throw some cash or a gift card in an envelope and instead peruse these ideas for inspiration for gifts that your dad or new graduate will actually use and appreciate.

Find more gift ideas for dads and grads at officedepot.com.


Gifts for Dads

Upgrade the Man Cave
Keep dad’s space cool with smart home technology that can control features such as temperature, lighting and music volume. Many devices and apps allow for themed settings, so dad can instantaneously turn up the lights and sound to catch the game on his big screen, or relax while taking a leisurely weekend nap.

Gadgets Galore
If dad still works on a desktop, help him upgrade his outdated tech toys. Go in on a big present with your siblings and splurge on dad with a top-selling 2-in-1 laptop, such as a Dell Inspiron 13, which is available at Office Depot and OfficeMax locations. The stores offer a broad assortment of tablets and laptops to get him going with the latest in portable technology.

Out of This World
If you love playing video games with your dad, take it to the next level this Father’s Day with a virtual reality headset that gives new meaning to getting into the game. These devices allow for 360 degree immersive viewing of more than 400 virtual reality apps available for Android and iOS devices, as well as many popular video content providers.

Tech for Every Day
So much of people’s lives revolve around technology, and dads are no exception. Help him stay up-to-date with simple yet convenient and effective options for his smartphone like rechargeable power banks, cellphone cases, screen protectors and charging accessories. For a less tech-savvy dad, start small with an option like Bluetooth headphones.

Share Memories
A new digital camera is the perfect way to let dad capture every moment together with the family. If he as an ample photo library just waiting to be shared, create a work of art with a personalized canvas print he can proudly display in his office or favorite room in the house.


Goodies for Grads

Show Some Spirit
Graduating doesn’t have to mean leaving everything about college behind. Let your grad proudly represent his or her alma mater with university-branded items for their desk at the office or at home. With an assortment of spirited options, Office Depot offers everything from USB drives and mouse pads to planners and notebooks.

Planning Ahead
Starting a new job means taking on new responsibilities and learning the ropes at a new company. Help your graduate stay ahead of the learning curve and on top of important meetings with a smart, new planner that makes organizing that extra-busy schedule a cinch.

Photos on the Go
If your grad is an avid photographer or even just enjoys the occasional commemorative photo with the family, consider a gift that gives him or her the ability to immediately enjoy personal artwork. While looking at photography on a phone can be fun, a device like the HP Sprocket Wireless Photo Printer, which can fit in a pocket, gives the option to print a 2-by-3-inch photo in as little as 40 seconds so favorite photos don’t get lost in cyberspace.

Sign Up for Success
Today’s students probably spent most of their college years tapping keys to take notes and complete important tasks. While those habits will transition well to the corporate world, there are still plenty of reasons to have some quality pens available. Whether jotting quick notes while on a call or signing important documents, the job is more enjoyable with a high-quality pen in hand.

Take Initiative
When starting a new job, a newbie needs to show just how much he or she is engaged in the work. Give them the opportunity to showcase value by documenting brainstorms, meeting notes and important deadlines in a discbound leather notebook, such as the TUL Note-taking system. Bonus: you can even pick out the paper inserts that best fit his or her personal style.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images (father and son on graduation day)

Office Depot

In the Asking

By Ian Anderson

Yesterday morning I watched as my sons played Chutes and Ladders. All seemed well in their world: they laughed at the thought of doing the “naughty” things that made them slide, counted how many more spaces they needed to win, and argued about whose turn was up. And then the youngest screamed the scream that makes his oldest brother cover his ears and look at me like, “Are you going to do something here?”

Right before the scream to end all screams, I heard their conversation, which was quickly urgent on all fronts. The older brothers were making the little one understand, in gentle tones of course, that he needed to move his piece to a certain spot on the board. I heard something like, “No! Give me that! It goes here!”

Then, as previously stated, the scream happened.

I talked quickly and simply, and the game resumed. Because of the frequency of this kind of situation, I knew what the little one needed — he had to be asked.

It took me a long time to realize that to ask is to create relationship, to draw another person toward me. The opposite of asking is demanding, and it is the same as pushing away; when I demand, I step on the personhood of whomever I demand from.

Both asking and demanding are powerful, and it may be that our demands are often granted, but we should know the price. Implicitly, we bind one to another or we cast away.

I’ve observed the power of the request in the classroom, too. I talk openly with my students about the authority I’ve been given as their teacher, especially about how easily that power could go to my head. And it’s because of that authority that my requests, my genuine pleases and thank yous, are even more powerful. By asking instead of demanding, I silently acknowledge the independence and personhood of my students, and I have seen in their eyes a willingness to listen — even when they disagree or would rather resist.

Foolproof? Not even close. Yet, if we really respect the people around us, we give them room to carry out their resistance, to say no. As a teacher, I explain the consequences simply.

And what about more intimate relationships? We’ve all seen marriages in which it’s common for the request to be absent. Inserted is the demand, and with it the attitude that each should know the other so well that asking becomes a sort of an insult — or the idea that each has the right to demand what is due. Maybe too many requests went unfulfilled and demanding was the only way to carry on. Maybe.

However, earnest requests are hard to deny, no matter the situation. This is why we instinctively avoid the friend or neighbor who we know will ask to borrow from us. How can we say no? Asking is so powerful, we are often angry that we’ve been asked because the pull of the request is so strong, even from someone who “over-asks.”

As a parent, it’s difficult to balance my authority with a clear eye on building up my sons. But with an understanding that relationship is more important than getting my way, even as a dad, I’m at least headed in the best direction.

Chutes and Ladders continued without bloodshed because I explained — over the ear-splitting, tongue-wagging, scream — that instead of trying to rip his piece from his hand while forcing their way on him, their brother needed to be talked to like one of them. Once they drew him closer with a request, he gleefully accepted their help.

Perhaps before we learn anything about relationships, we must first learn how to ask.

Ian Anderson is a teacher, a husband, and a dad. He lives with his family in Central Kansas. Occasionally, he tweets here: @ian_writes.

Dad’s Day Gift Ideas

(Family Features) Dad can be hard to shop for sometimes. Of course, he can never have too many ties, coffee mugs or tools. But doesn’t the man who taught you how to ride a bike, to play catch and to always try your best deserve something more personal and unique.

Sure, he will be happy regardless of what you get him, but why not help him enjoy more time with the interests he has outside of being a great father. Here are some Father’s Day gift ideas for every kind of dad – from the grill master to the car enthusiast and the clean freak to the hygiene centric and every kind of dad in between.

car cleaning supplies

Let Dad Stand Out with a Million-Dollar Shine
Your dad can now achieve the million-dollar appearance of Barrett-Jackson car auctions in his garage. Their Premium Auto Care line includes washes, waxes and detailers formulated with synthetic hydrophobic polymers and genuine carnauba wax for lasting brilliance and easy application. Learn more about how to bring a long-lasting and brilliant, deep shine to your dad’s car at Barrett-JacksonAutoCare.com. Barrett-Jackson Premium Auto Care products, which range in price from $5.49 to $17.99, are available at retailers nationwide, including Walmart, Pepboys, Menards and select Home Depots, and through online retailers including Amazon.com. For the ultimate gift, go a step further and wash his car for him.

driving shoes

For the Dad Who Loves to Drive
What do you get a dad who loves his car and truly loves to drive? How about something that connects him to his car, like a shoe that enhances his driving experience? While comfortable and stylish enough for everyday wear, the Piloti Spyder S1 driving shoe features patented Roll Control heel technology, superior red suede and mesh panels for maximum comfort and flexibility as well as the perfect combination of support, size, grip and feel. Check out the Spyder S1 ($150) as well as Piloti’s complete line of luxury, casual and performance driving shoes at Piloti.com.


A Gift Dad Can Sink His Teeth Into
Make Father’s Day complete with a dinner he’ll remember for years. The Omaha Steaks Father’s Day T-Bone Gift package is a meal dad will be willing and eager to fire up the grill for. The package is headlined by two 18-ounce T-Bones and includes four Brisket Burgers and four Gourmet Jumbo Franks along with Omaha Steaks Seasoning. Regularly $194.95, you can now bring the family together to enjoy this incredible fare for just $69.99. For more information, visit omahasteaks.com.

cordless vac

A Spotless Man Cave, Workshop and Car
It’s the ultimate gift for dad and his man cave. The Dirt Devil FlipOut™ is a premium cordless hand vac, perfectly designed to keep his man cave, workshop or set of wheels spotless. The 16-volt, fade-free lithium battery means faster charging, longer runtime and continuous power. It’s compact and lightweight, and has versatile tools for quick and easy cleaning. The FlipOut is $49.99. For more information, visit DirtDevil.com.

electric toothbrush

Power Dad’s Smile
Be the power behind dad’s smile this Father’s Day with the Oral-B 7000 SmartSeries Electric Toothbrush with Bluetooth connectivity. The brush connects to the Oral-B App, which provides real-time guidance while brushing and records brushing activity that can be shared with dental professionals. With six different cleaning modes, it removes 300 percent more plaque compared to a manual brush. Upgrade your dad’s oral care routine and visit oralb.com for additional details.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images (father and daughter photo)

Family Features

Jill-E bag combines style, functionality

By Todd Vogts

JACK Lenox Portfolio Front
JACK Lenox Portfolio Front

It is that time of the year when you are buying school supplies, new sneakers and an updated wardrobe for your children, but why should they be the only ones that use this time of the year to freshen up their looks?

Jill-E Designs has a plethora of great accessories for mom and dad, and these stylish accoutrements will make you as excited about a new week at work or running errands as the children are about getting back to school and friends.

The ladies always have options when it comes to picking out something new to set of their look, but it can be more difficult to find something for the guys. Luckily, Jill-E has the JACK Lenox Portfolio.

This over-the-shoulder back is the perfect combination of style and functionality. It can hold your laptop or tablet with ease, and there is a pocket for your phone. It has space for pens and cards as well, and it is all contained within sleek and soft brown-leather.

It comes in two sizes depending upon your needs: a 13-inch and a 15-inch.

JACK Lenox Portfolio Interior
JACK Lenox Portfolio Interior

This may not sound like a huge amount of space, but it is perfect for whatever device you need in your day-to-day efforts. And, if you are like me, the limited space helps you stay away from carrying extra clutter you don’t really need.

I highly recommend this bag for the stylish man in your life. They start at only $169.99.

Check out www.jill-e.com to purchase this bag and check out everything else they have to offer.

JACK Lenox Portfolio on a Mannequin
JACK Lenox Portfolio on a Mannequin
JACK Lenox Portfolio Side
JACK Lenox Portfolio Side