The Good Life for Dad

It’s easy for imagination to fail when it comes to finding gifts for Father’s Day. But writer Cooper Ray, creator of Social Primer ( – a website dedicated to bringing back traditional manners for men – is practiced in remedying that.

Ray curates a well-edited selection of goods for the good life – velvet slippers, rare vintage books, personalized cuff links – which he sells on his site and through travelling trunk shows.

Born in Montgomery, Ala., and oozing a warm Southern charm, Ray leans toward classic and traditional items to make a stylish impression. Gifts such as monogrammed playing cards, for instance, or personalized notepads and stationery. “It shows that you’ve thought ahead and gone that extra step,” says Ray. He’s also big on cultural excursions – and simple quality time with dad. “Men can talk around an activity,” he says.

Here are his top picks for Father’s Day presents that will inspire and impress. Like the products and social suggestions on Ray’s site, they’re proof that great gifts (and manners) are all about simple quality.
– Monogrammed playing cards from Social Primer, US$45: Monogrammed anything proves you didn’t wait until the last minute. The personal touch is especially welcome on something classic, cool and useful on poker night.
– Stubbs & Wootton slippers, $395: The best slippers for the price, says Ray. And they come in fabrics including classic velvet and casual canvas.
– Monogrammed cuff links from Social Primer, $65: “Good cuff links are usually so expensive that it can be difficult to find a great-looking pair at any price,” Ray notes. “This monogrammed pair – made to order and under a $100 – will always be well-received.”
– American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House by Jon Meacham, $19.80 at “I am a huge history buff and this is one of the best books,” Ray says. “If your dad loves history, he will definitely enjoy this.”
– Buffalo Classic briefcase from Brooks Brothers, $698: “This briefcase means business and delivers it with classic style,” Ray says. There’s ample space for a laptop, and this case will never be mistaken for a man purse.
– Language CD from Rosetta Stone, $259: “I am a big believer in the adage that we are never too old to learn,” Ray says. “This language CD is the best out there. It makes learning a language simple and enjoyable.”
– Bow tie from Social Primer, $95: If you go the tie route, add a little whimsy and unpredictability – bump it up to bow tie.

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