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14 Free or Cheap Things to Do for Father's Day

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THE THOUGHT THAT COUNTS

Instead of scrambling for a pricey gift that may fall flat on Father's Day, consider what dear old dad really wants. Maybe it's a day off from chores, a fun day out, a delicious meal, or simply more quality time with family. Before shelling out for another tie, mug, or gadget, consider these 14 free or cheap ideas for a Father's Day to remember.

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WASH HIS CAR

Let dad pocket the money he'd spend at the car wash by pitching in and washing his wheels. Remember to use a car-friendly cleaner and wait for a cooler part of the day, when the heat won't dry soap too quickly, leaving spots and streaks. For more car-washing tips, check out Consumer Reports.

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BE HIS LANDSCAPER FOR THE DAY

Grab dad a beer and let him relax on the porch or patio while you mow the yard, trim the bushes, or pull all those pesky weeds in the flower bed. You'll get some exercise, and he'll get a kick out of watching you get a little dirt under your nails.

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INDULGE HIS FAVORITE HOBBY

If dad loves to golf, reserve a tee time -- or challenge him to mini golf for something more budget-friendly. If he's an outdoorsy guy, invite him on a hike. If he loves to watch the game, nab a couple of tickets to a favorite sporting event. Bonus points if dad's hobby isn't your cup of tea -- he'll be tickled at the effort.

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ORGANIZE A BACKYARD CAMPOUT

If a full-fledged camping trip is too time-consuming or expensive, consider pitching a tent in the backyard, dusting off the sleeping bags, and finding a flashlight so dad can tell his spookiest stories with a little panache. Having a clean toilet close by is nice, too. Parenting magazine offers suggestions for family-friendly games and nibbles to complete the night.

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TREAT HIM TO A FREE MEAL

Keep an eye open for the inevitable wave of free Father's Day dishes and meals at local restaurants. Last year, promotions flagged by Coupons.com's The Good Stuff included free spaghetti or lasagna at Spaghetti Warehouse, a free medium sub at Firehouse Subs, and a free seafood platter at Long John Silver's. Remember, these deals typically require a purchase of equal or greater value.

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GIVE HIM SOME TECH TIPS

Whether dad has the latest iPad or an aging desktop PC, check in and see whether he needs help with day-to-day tech needs -- without any eye-rolling, of course. For example, if his computer is slow, offer to scan it for viruses or clean up the hard drive. Optimize his new tablet by downloading apps he'll love and organizing them in easy-to-find folders.

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PROCLAIM HIM KING OF THE REMOTE

Whether he wants to watch ESPN, the news, or the Weather Channel 24/7, today's the day to let him follow his boob-tube bliss. And that means no complaints, even if you know he's seen "A Few Good Men" at least 100 times. Bonus: Bring him his favorite snack and watch with him.

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LET HIM TELL HIS STORY

Help dad create a family heirloom by gifting him an inexpensive journal filled with prompts asking about his past and hopes for the future. For a free, equally thoughtful alternative, whip out your smartphone and interview dad one on one, USA Today suggests.

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TAKE A TRIP DOWN MEMORY LANE

Even the most stoic dad can't resist looking through old family pictures or mementos. Whether it means dragging out some dusty old albums or finally organizing a photo library on the computer, take time to reminisce. For bonus points (and a lot of laughs), recreate a favorite family photo.

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ORGANIZE A FAMILY GAME NIGHT

Whether dad is a Monopoly master, trivia buff, or poker champ, grab those games from the closet, prepare a few snacks, and go to town. Make it a real thriller by offering to clean the garage (or complete some equally thankless task) if he wins.

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MAKE HIM SOMETHING HE'LL TREASURE

Don't forget that a homemade gift can save a ton of money (and earn a lot of brownie points for thoughtfulness). From comic-book coasters and cord organizers to homemade beef jerky, Brit + Co. has a roundup of ideas ranging from practical to delicious. Children can pitch in on projects from a list by Dodo Burd.