- The Washington Times - Friday, June 16, 2006

He taught you how everything you know, from how to fish to how to throw a baseball. He taught you how to drive. He grilled your dates when they came to pick you up.

For all his time and effort, you can inexpensively give him exactly what he wants this Father’s Day — a card. Fortunately for sons and daughters everywhere, that’s what dad wants — not the traditional tie or barbecue tools.

A card is the present that dad most wants to receive this Father’s Day, according to a Discover Card survey. It’s also the present he’s most likely to receive.

Almost 69 percent of consumers say they will buy a greeting card for Father’s Day, beating every other category by 30 points, according to a survey by the National Retail Federation.

“You bet I am expecting a card,” said Ron Nielson of Elkhorn, Wis., while leading a school trip at Union Station. “A card is fine. The kids don’t have a lot of money.”

“I will probably get him one in the morning, but I will probably make him pay for it,” joked nearby student Trisha Luengen, 14.

But cards aren’t the only thing dads want. Sometimes they admit to wanting something more.

Rich Thomaseyof Middlesex, N.J., received not only dinner out with his family, but also XM Satellite Radio.

“I’d been hinting at it for a while, but I didn’t expect anything,” Mr. Thomasey said. “The boys and Mom all chipped in to get me XM satellite radio. One of my sons drove up from Florida, and he’s installing it now. It was a nice surprise.” And, his family let him leave them for Father’s Day to come to Washington to watch the Yankees play the Nationals.

The Greeting Card Association estimates that 97 million paper greeting cards will be given tomorrow to the estimated 66 million fathers in the United States — not including the millions of electronic cards that will be sent. American Greetings Corp. estimates that between 3 million and 5 million e-cards will be sent from its Web site this Father’s Day.

According to the National Retail Federation, $756 million will be spent on Father’s Day cards this year, bought by daughters, sons, wives, fathers, mothers, brothers, grandchildren and anyone else who just wants to thank an influential father figure. The day will spur almost $9 billion in spending, up from $8.2 billion last year. The average person plans to spend $88.80 on dads, compared with $122.16 for moms.

About 35 percent of Father’s Day cards will merit a chuckle or two, said Alana Campana, a program manager for American Greetings. “Humor is such an integral part of relationships with dad.”

The number of Father’s Day cards that focus on the comical aspects of a fatherhood, such as his love of the grill, outpaces the number of funny cards sent to mom on Mother’s Day, which are more often sentimental, Ms. Campana said.

Wives will send both a funny card and a serious card to their husbands, Hallmark Corp. spokesman Rachel Bolton said. Often for children, the e-card sent during the week to dad is comical. The card he gets on Father’s Day is more serious and heartfelt. Research by American Greetings has found that for Father’s Day, family members will send both an e-card and a paper card.

More than 85 percent of paper greeting cards in the United States are sold by Hallmark or American Greetings.

A card “shows how much I really respect him, how much I love him,” said Ricardo Mills, 15, of the card he picked out for his father at Union Station.

Jada Mary Stevenson, 8, of Columbus, Ohio, is giving her father a card “because he’s special and he’s always been there for me — and because he’s the best dad in the world.”

The average consumer will spend $7.45 on greeting cards, according to the retail trade group, not to mention the free e-cards that will fill inboxes.

Father’s Day is the fourth-biggest holiday for giving cards, eclipsed only by Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, and followed closely by Easter.

Paper greeting card companies are not worried about competition from e-cards this Father’s Day, even though some reports cite e-cards for the several-percentage-point drop in greeting card sales over the past few years.

“Some people are under the mistaken impression that e-cards tend to substitute for the sending of traditional cards,” said Barbara Miller, spokeswoman for the Greeting Card Association. “It’s more common that someone might send both.”

The traditional method of going to the store, selecting the card and writing a sincere message still will be the most popular way of letting fathers know who cares this Father’s Day, Ms. Bolton said.

Sherrian Isaac of Arlington bought cards for her stepfather and brother who live in Texas. “I think they will know and understand that I took the time to remember them.”

What Dad will get for Father’s Day this year:

Card 69%

Special meal or outing 38

Clothes 32

Gift cards 27

Books or CDs 22.3

Electronics or computer 15

Tools or appliances 11.2

Home improvement

or gardening 10.9

Sporting goods

or leisure items 9.1

Source: National Retail Federation

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