- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 16, 2007

The perfect Father's Day gift just happened to be a 12-hour airplane ride away.

It was by chance that Zach Silberman, an intern in the District, and his brother found it as they explored Jerusalem during a 10-day youth trip in Israel. They saw it in a random shop, and they knew it was perfect: a clay statue of a Russian fiddler, a Jewish collectible their father would love.

“We felt he would remember this for a long time,” said Mr. Silberman, 21. “A card doesn’t really express how you feel in the same way that words do.”

At about $60, Mr. Silberman, who is from Highland Park, Ill., said it was also reasonable for a Father's Day gift.

However, a study from the National Retail Federation found that the average person will spend $98.34 on Father's Day this year, up from $88.80 last year. Consumers are expected to spend $9.9 billion total on dads across the country tomorrow.

Men are expected to spend $100.72 on average, while women will spend an average of $96.09.

Those amounts seem pretty high, said Hannah Snoke, while waiting at Union Station before a meeting. Her entire family usually gets together to celebrate Father’s Day in her hometown of Pittsburgh instead of giving gifts.

“My family would not be like one of those average people,” said Ms. Snoke, who is looking for a job in the District but still lives in Pittsburgh. “We always celebrate a lot. We don’t really give gifts to each other a lot.”

Ms. Snoke, who is in her 20s, said she would expect the average Father's Day gift to cost about $30.

Greeting cards are the most popular gifts for dads, according to the study.

That’s exactly what Kyle Willner, 21, who works with Navigant Consulting Inc. and lives in the District, plans to get for his father. He said $15 to $20 is a good amount to spend on Father's Day.

“As I get older, I’ll spend more money when I have a steady income,” he said.

The retail federation, however, did not find that. The 18-24 age group spent the most of all ages, the study found. That amount declined throughout other age groups, but increased again in the 45-54 group.

Mr. Willner, who is from Pennsylvania, said he usually doesn’t buy big gifts for his father. This time around, he will be going to Pennsylvania for a wedding. He said he will celebrate an early Father's Day, as well as his mother’s birthday, with a breakfast or lunch today.

Karen Alman, a mother of three boys, said she celebrates Father’s Day with her boys and their dad. This year, the family is on vacation from their home in a suburb of San Francisco. Last year, they went to Alcatraz in the San Francisco Bay.

As for what they are doing this Father's Day, one of her sons had his own idea.

“Sleep in,” he blurted out.

But Mrs. Alman said the family will be heading to New York for a Yankees baseball game. Usually, the day “involves food and something fun,” she said. About $90 is usually reasonable for Father's Day, she added.

As you get older, the amount of money you spend on Father's Day often gets higher, said John Wheeler, who was visiting the District for a wedding,

“Especially if you’re farther away,” said Mr. Wheeler, who is stationed in Pensacola, Fla., with the U.S. Navy. He is from Leesburg, Va.

He expects to spend from $50 to $150 on a Father's Day gift, which can range from clothes to power tools. The day also usually includes a cookout or dinner, Mr. Wheeler, 24, added.

Just acknowledging the day can go a long way, too, said Ryan Connor, 22, with Enterprise Community Partners. He usually calls his father or sends him a card.

“That’s all he cares about, anyway,” Mr. Connor, from Columbus, Ohio, said. “That I acknowledge it.”

But for younger people who are entering the work world for the first time, Mr. Willner says it’s tough getting used to spending on Father's Day.

“When you’re a kid, you don’t really get your parents presents,” he said. “They get you presents for birthdays and Christmas.”

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