Father's Day. BBQ, baseball on tv (or, better yet; go to a game!), swimming, boating. All of this sounds like a typical Dad's day to me. But the one thing that makes it a big stressor for me? What in the heck to you give a GUY???
After all the ties, golf shirts, Hawaiian shirts, etc are given, what's left? Well, I have a few suggestions for you.
Last year, I put together a picture book for my son, Adam, the awesome dad of my three Lovely Ladies. I have a Mac computer and using the iphoto program, I was able to make a book in no time. It cost me around $70.00 but that's only because I went a little crazy and used around 80 photographs. If I had used a little more restraint and stuck with 25 or so , it would have only been around $30. The book started with the first picture of him and his number one daughter, Ava. I chose pictures that had him with one or all of his three ladies. He loved it.
Something that is simple and also well-received is asking your children to finish sentences about their dad. I did this when my guys were growing up for their grandparents and some of the answers were pretty funny. A few of the questions were: I like it when my daddy________________. When my daddy laughs, it makes me feel___________________. I know my dad is happy when_______________. My daddy's favorite thing to do is_________________. My daddy's favorite drink is___________. My daddy can cook__________________.
These are only a few examples. You can do a lot of questions or just a few. I made cards with the questions and answers inside with a little title on the front that said, 'From the Mouths of Babes.' If you have a precocious toddler, this can be pretty fun.
Now, to give that Guy Who Has Everything something a little different, how about shaving products? I made shaving creams, aftershave lotions and masks. The ingredients are not 'flowery' smelling and when considering all those chemicals and such that you find in over-the-counter products, these are a very nice and fun alternative. I will admit there are many products available that are safe, but they can be pretty pricey. To help you with finding the safest products, try going to the website http://www.ewg.org/skindeep. Or, you can make your own! The recipes I am supplying are better for men's skin types and have bolder, more masculine scents and natural ingredients.
Fresh herbs such as rosemary, sage and yarrow are well suited for masculine tastes. They are all naturally antiseptic and cleansing to the skin. Yarrow in particular is a good choice to use in male product recipes as it is healing, cleansing and astringent. Spices are often found in aftershave products because they have anti-inflammatory properties and bold scents. Citrus blended with herbs and spices is also uplifting and, well, sexy!
Shaving products have gotten more sophisticated, but little has changed when it comes to the daily ritual of shaving: removing hair from the face with a sharp blade and then soothing the skin with a splash of cold water or aftershave. In my most favorite magazine in the world, 'Herb Companion', I found shaving tips for a closer, more comfortable experience, written by Janice Cox:
• Always shave in the direction of hair growth. Shaving against the growth can cause ingrown hairs and skin irritation.
• Before shaving, soften the beard with warm water or a hot towel.
• Don't shave the same area over and over; this can be irritating and can damage new skin cell growth.
• Use a gentle facial scrub once a week to remove dead skin and ingrown hairs. Try mixing a teaspoon or two of cornmeal, ground nuts or oatmeal into your favorite cleanser or soap while washing your face.
• Use a facial mask monthly to deep-cleanse pores and help rid your skin of surface debris and dead skin cells. Try a natural clay mask to help draw impurities out of your skin.
• Rinse razor blades well after each use and replace often. Allow your razor to air dry to avoid the chance of bacteria growing.
• Cuts and Nicks: Grab a clean cotton cloth or tissue and apply direct pressure to stop the bleeding. Avoid that area the next time you shave. You may also apply a bit of vitamin E oil to the spot to help it heal.
Target has a nifty Razor Kit that includes a razor, shaving cream brush, shaving soap and a soap holder, all of which hang from an attractive, metal stand. It costs around $30.00. Here are a few recipes for you to make at home using easily found ingredients. Try out some of these recipes and wrap them up with the Razor Kit from Target or just a simple, new razor. Dad deserves Make-It-Yourself stuff, too!
Olive oil creates a rich, moisturizing cream. Showering before shaving softens the hairs on the face. This is an easy recipe and it works best if used with a shaving brush to create a better 'foam.' It makes a nice amount that should last a good week or so, depending on how often the guy shaves.
Olive Oil Shaving Cream
6 TBS beeswax, pellets or grated from a block *see notes
4 TBS olive oil
1 cup boiling, hot water
1 tsp borax powder
2 TBS mild soap, grated (I recommend Dove soup; it's mild and has a very light scent that won't interfere with any essential oil you are adding)
20 drops essential oil of your choice (8 drops cedar and 12 drops lime has a nice, manly scent)
1. On stovetop in a double boiler or in microwave, gently heat beeswax and olive oil until just melted. You can also use a glass measuring cup placed in a shallow pan of water. Bring the water to a fast simmer. Stir occasionally until you have a clear liquid.
2. Meanwhile, in separate container (I used a glass mixing measuring cup), mix together boiling hot water, borax and soap, stir until soap is completely dissolved, about 5 minutes.
3. Pour soap solution into blender and blend on lowest speed for a few seconds. The solution will foam a bit. With blender running at very low speed, slowly pour beeswax/olive oil mixture into soap solution and continue to blend on lowest speed until cooled and you have a smooth, creamy mixture, about 6 minutes.
4. Spoon into a clean container, like a mason jar. As a gift or as a convenient container, put some in bottles with a squeeze top or pump top. To use: soften beard with warm water and then smooth shaving cream over your face. Use sharp, clean razor.
*notes: this recipe called for a ¼ cup stearic acid powder instead of the beeswax. Stearic acid is very difficult to find unless you go online. It is an emulsifier, which makes the product creamier. I experimented with natural emulsifiers like sasparilla and yam, but the smell really put me off of it even though it did make a 'thicker' shaving cream. My husband used the creams with and without the sasparilla and didn't think it made a large amount of difference during the shaving process. I experimented with the beeswax and came up with the suggested amount and am very happy with it. I found the longer the shaving cream stood, the thicker it got.
How more manly can you get if you use brewer's yeast? It actually has a couple of benefits for anyone's skin, not just Dad's. It's rich in all the Vitamin B's and is known to kill bacteria associated with acne. It also promotes production of some white blood cells, which helps to clear problem skin and keep it healthy.
Brewer's Yeast Facial Mask
1 tsp powdered brewer's yeast *see notes
1 TBS buttermilk or plain yogurt
Mix yeast and buttermilk until smooth. To use: Spread an even layer over your face and neck. Let it sit for 10-20 minutes. Rinse well with warm then cool water and pat your skin dry. Store any leftover mask in refrigerator.
*notes: I found brewer's yeast at Brewers Connection located at 1425 E. University Dr. #B103, Tempe, Az. They have small sample packets of different types of brewer's yeast and are happy to let you take a few packets. The amount in each packet is plenty for one batch of the facial mask. They were very nice at Brewers Connection, by the way.
Clay masks are especially well suited for male complexions and help draw out oils and surface impurities from the skin. All clays have the same skin-clearing results but vary in color depending on what part of the world they come from and the minerals they contain. You can find natural clay powder at natural food stores or herbal stores.
Natural Clay Mask
2 TBS natural clay
1-2 tsp water
1 tsp light oil, olive oil, almond oil, etc
1. Mix together clay and water until you have a smooth paste.
2. To use: Spread mixture on clean skin and leave on for 15-20 minutes, until dry. Rinse well with warm water followed by cool water and pat your skin dry.
Aftershave helps refresh and close pores after cleansing or shaving. Used as a final facial splash; the combination of herbs in this recipe will help tighten pores and keep the complexion clear. These two are all naturally antiseptic and cleansing. In the herbal aftershave, you may also use fresh herbs in place of the dried; use three times the amount called for and store in the refrigerator for 1 week before straining.
1 cup witchhazel
1 tsp yarrow, dried
1 TBS lavender, dried
1 TBS sage, dried
1 tsp mint, dried
1 bay leaf
Mix all ingredients. Pour into a clean jar with a tight-fitting lid. Place the jar in a dark, cool place for 2 weeks. At the end of two weeks, strain off the liquid and discard any solids; pour into a clean container. After shaving or cleansing your face, pour a small amount into your hands and pat on your face.
To make this sooner than 2 weeks, put ingredients in double boiler and heat at very low heat for four hours. Let it come to room temperature. Strain off liquid and discard any solids; pour into clean container.
Bay rum aftershave was created in the West Indies during the mid-1800's and became a very popular item for men in New York City and, later, Europe. It has a very spicy scent with a little bit of orange thrown in. Cinnamon also smells great and its anti-inflammatory properties help soothe skin after cleansing or shaving. The 'Christmas-ee' scent makes it a nice gift during the holidays, too.
Bay Rum Aftershave
1/2 cup witchhazel
2 TBS dark rum
2 bay leaves, dried or fresh
¼ tsp whole allspice
¼ tsp whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1 small orange, zest
Mix all ingredients. Pour into a clean jar with a tight-fitting lid. Place jar in dark, cool place for 2 weeks. At end of two weeks strain off liquid; pour into clean container. Discard any zest and other remaining solids. Use on face after cleansing or shaving.
To make sooner, put all ingredients in double boiler and simmer on lowest heat for 4 hours. Bring to room temperature and strain off liquid; pour into clean container. Discard any zest and other remaining solids. Use on face after cleansing or shaving.