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Here’s 5 gifts that can make Dad glad

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Fathers are notoriously difficult to shop for, but preparing for this special holiday can be easier than you think. Here are five very different, very easy ways to celebrate. Any one is sure to be appreciated - especially if it's accompanied by a handmade card.

Father's Day breakfast

Start the day with a stack of classic pancakes hot off the griddle. Here are a few ways to make them even more delicious:

- For fresh-fruit pancakes, add berries or banana slices. To distribute them evenly, dot them across the batter after you pour it onto the griddle.

- Make bacon first, then cook the pancakes on the same griddle, and they'll take on some of the rich, savory flavor. Make sure to remove the excess bacon grease first - the key to perfect pancakes is using a griddle that's just slicked with oil, not swimming in it.

- Substitute cornmeal, buckwheat flour or whole-wheat flour for half of the all-purpose flour in the accompanying recipe.

Shoeshine kit

Help your father stay organized by packing essential shoeshine supplies into an attractive container that he'll have for years.

Look for a simple wooden or metal box at an art-supply store. Fill it with shoe polish in assorted colors, horsehair brushes for cleaning and polishing, a stiff brush for suede, buffing cloths and a shoehorn. Tie the box with shoelaces.

Grilling gift

If your father does the grilling at your house, he'll appreciate an assortment of good-quality accessories: an apron; a bottle of excellent olive oil; and long-handled utensils, like a basting brush, spatula and tongs.

Instead of gift-wrapping them, present them this way: Wrap the apron around the bottom half of the other items, so their tops are showing, and secure with a rubber band. Now wrap a pretty new dish towel around the apron and tie with a ribbon.

Monogrammed glassware

Etch an initial, stripes or polka dots on plain tumblers and other glasses. You'll find etching cream at craft stores, or you can order a glass-etching kit, which includes stencils, from Martha By Mail (call 1-800-950-7130 for a catalog or more information).

Etching cream isn't hard to use, but it must be applied smoothly and carefully, so practice on a jar until you're comfortable with the process. When using etching cream, wear plastic gloves and an old shirt with long sleeves, and work in a well-ventilated area.

1. Clean and dry the glass you're using.

2. Decide on the design you want. For polka dots, use looseleaf-reinforcement stickers; you'll stick them on the glass and paint the etching cream inside the holes. For stripes, use masking tape; apply strips of tape all the way around the glass or vertically; the space between the strips of tape is where you'll paint the etching cream.

And for an initial, photocopy a letter from a typography book or even from a magazine to the size you want, enlarging or reducing it as necessary. Place the letter on a piece of contact paper, trace around it and cut out the letter with an X-Acto knife, leaving a letter-shaped cutout in the contact paper. Trim the contact paper into a square or rectangle (with the letter cutout in the center) that will fit onto your glass.

Apply the stickers, tape or adhesive stencil to the glass, pressing hard so the edges are all flat.

3. Use a paintbrush to apply a thick layer of etching cream to the glass. Wait 5 minutes, then rinse off with warm water.

Outdoor games

Father's Day, June 21, also happens to be the first day of summer. What better way to celebrate than with a lawn game? Set up a game of horseshoes, croquet, badminton or bocce, an Italian game in which players roll or throw small, heavy balls toward a target ball.

These games don't require much space or fancy equipment (you'll find everything you need at sporting-goods stores), and your whole family will enjoy playing them all summer long.