5 Ways to Celebrate Father’s Day When You Can’t See Your Dad in Person, According to Party Planners and Therapists

published Jun 16, 2021
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image

There are lots of constraints that might make spending Father’s Day face to face with your dad a challenge, and this year is no different. “For many, an in-person Father’s Day celebration may be off the table this year,” says clinical psychologist Alice Shepard, Ph.D. of Mirielle Therapy Practice. “Some may not be ready to travel yet (especially those that have not been vaccinated), others may not be able to afford to take time away from work to travel, and others may have lost their dad during this time.”

Fortunately, with a little imagination and planning, you can still commemorate Father’s Day without your dad physically at your side. “If we’ve learned anything in the past 15 months, it’s that staying virtually connected with loved ones is possible and in most cases, fairly easy,” party planner Lisa Cokinos of LC Events explains. “While nothing can compare to seeing your father in person and expressing face-to-face appreciation for his love and guidance over the years, a virtual celebration opens up the opportunity to be creative with how you celebrate, extend the festivities to family members that aren’t in close proximity and still provide a level of intimacy despite the lack of physical presence.”

If seeing your dad in person this Father’s Day isn’t a possibility, there are still plenty of ways to mark the day and make it meaningful. From gratitude lists to virtual dinner ideas and more, here’s how party planners and therapists say you can celebrate Father’s Day when you can’t visit your dad (or fatherly figure) in person. 

Make a gratitude list.

When you can’t tell your dad why you love them in person, Cicely Horsham-Brathwaite, Ph.D., a psychologist and mindset coach in New York City says writing it down is the next best thing. “Psychologist Martin Seligman developed a positive psychology exercise that can easily be adapted to connect and pay homage to your father or fatherly figure on Father’s Day,” she explains. “The basic notion is that you write a letter detailing what you appreciate about the person, ways they’ve had a positive impact on your life, and provide specifics about why you are grateful for them.”

Once you’ve written your gratitude list, Horsham-Brathwaite says you can either schedule a video or audio call to read your letter to your dad, or read it out loud to yourself (or a loved one) if speaking with them directly isn’t a possibility. “This exercise has been found to uplift the mood of the person writing the letter as much as it does the recipient,” she explains. 

Create a photo montage or playlist.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a photo album is pretty close to priceless. Evan Karfinkel, the founder of EK Event Group suggests assembling some of your favorite pics of you and your dad into a photo montage or album. “A beautiful video montage or digital photo album can provide you both with positive memories,” he explains. “You can make your montage in iMovie, and if possible, send them a link when you’re done as a Father’s Day gift.”

Not into the idea of a photo montage? No problem. Horsham-Brathwaite says creating a playlist of your dad’s favorite songs can be equally impactful. “Add songs associated with special moments throughout your father’s life, like the first dance song at his wedding or one you would predictably see him dance to at a party,” she advises. “If you can, play the songs for him over a video or audio call and ask him to reminisce about what was going on in his life when the song first came out. Recalling memories of our past is especially nurturing as we age.”

Watch a memorable movie.

Whether your dad is a big action movie fan or into arthouse documentaries, Horsham-Brathwaite says you can watch a synchronized movie together using an app like Teleparty to share a meaningful virtual experience on Father’s Day. “You can write comments in the chat in real-time to enhance the experience,” she explains. If you can’t watch an online movie with your dad, Cokinos suggests watching a movie that sparks meaningful memories. 

Enjoy a virtual dinner (or drink) together.

Just because you can’t take your dad to his favorite restaurant IRL doesn’t mean you can’t dine together on Father’s Day. “A simple option for this Father’s Day would be to share a virtual meal together over Zoom,” Cokinos says. “If you want to take it up a notch, you can plan to have his favorite meal delivered ahead of time or make the same meal from scratch and then enjoy it together over Zoom.”

If your dad enjoys cocktails or mocktails, Cokinos says you can also plan a virtual happy hour for Father’s Day. “Brands like Sourced Craft Cocktails deliver curated cocktail or mocktail kits straight to your front door, so you can send your dad his favorite spirits and mixers,” she explains. “You can also sign up for virtual mixology classes (with a trained expert) to help guide you through the process, either way, it’s a clever way to kick back with your dad when you can’t go to a bar or restaurant.”

If dinner or drinks with your dad isn’t a possibility, consider cooking or ordering his favorite meal to enjoy at home in his honor. “An old family recipe or familiar meal can be especially comforting when you can’t see your dad in person,” Horsham-Brathwaite explains.

Share a virtual experience. 

If you can’t do something fun in person with your pops on Father’s Day, Horsham-Brathwaite suggests taking a virtual class together instead. “There are so many options for virtual experiences these days that have literally put the world at our fingertips,” she explains. “Consider searching for international cooking, dance, or art classes and expose yourselves to another culture. Learning new information or skills supports our mood, memory, and creativity, and doing activities together can enhance family connection.”

You can also use Father’s Day as an opportunity to make plans to do something exciting with your dad on a future date. “Although you won’t be together in person for Father’s Day, this will give you both something to look forward to in the upcoming weeks/months,” Shepard explains. “If you’re unable to make plans with your dad at a later date, plan something fun for yourself that reminds you of him for the future.”