Feet up, colourful socks, novelty, manager, office worker, lazy, free time, relaxation, relaxing.

Think outside the socks ... read on for great gift ideas for dads.

We've all been there: time gets away and as Christmas draws near panic sets in, and suddenly a cheap box of chocolates or, God forbid, novelty socks, find their way into Dad's Christmas stocking.

But fear not. Here you will find inspired gift suggestions for every type of father. There are a few rules to remember of course, and number one is that a carefully thought out surprise can be badly received. According to recent research published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, gift recipients are more appreciative of presents that they explicitly request than those they do not. In contrast, gift givers wrongly assume that both solicited and unsolicited gifts will be equally appreciated.

"This study torpedoes the long-held belief that if you spend days scouring David Jones for that special gift for a loved one, you'll show them just how much you care, and also what incredible insight you have into their needs and interests," says Australian Psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg.

"But the truth is that adults prefer you simply buy them what it is they've told you they want, which is entirely in line with the trend of an increasingly pragmatic society."

But you can't always get what they want, especially when your dad hasn't sent through his wish list, despite your prodding. If this is the case, consider these Christmas present ideas.

For the hirsute dad

Have you noticed that Movember seems to effortlessly segue into December these days with many men hanging on to their facial pelts long after the charity donations have been collected? If you want to send Dad a hint then shaving oil might be the perfect present. Molton Brown's Re-charge Black Pepper Shave Oil allows razors to glide over every curve of the face, with nary a nick or bump in sight. Now dad can plant a festive kiss on your cheek without giving you a rash.

Molton Brown Re-charge Black Pepper Shave Oil, 30ml for $40, available from David Jones.

For the musical dad

"Quirky and retro gift ideas that are proving very popular," says Myer's Group General Manager Merchandise, Adam Stapleton, who cites best sellers including Ridley's Harmonica, Slinky and YoYo. These gifts hark back to a simpler time and remind dad that his youthful days were not that long ago. The harmonica could be a fun present. We say 'could' here, as it depends on your father's harping skills. Dad can entertain the troops on Christmas day pretending he's Dylan or even Norman Gunston. It comes with a case and cleaning cloth.

Ridley's Harmonica available at Myer for $14.95

For the culinary dad

The father of molecular gastronomy, Heston Blumenthal, brings science to suburban kitchens with his new book, Heston Blumenthal At Home. The celebrated Michelin-starred chef maps out new techniques including an explanation of sous-vide cookery – the water bath that Blumenthal promises will help put home cooks on a par with professional chefs. (If you really want to give Dad the whole package, you can purchase a sous-vide from www.sousvidesupreme.com.au). There's 150 recipes to test including Blumenthal's famous triple-cooked chips, no Bunsen burner required.

Heston Blumental At Home is published by Bloomsbury, $65.

For the gadget-mad dad

Sure, you could buy him the latest smart phone or iPad but what's in it for you? If your dad loves the latest in technology, consider an iRobot. He dreamed it would happen all those years ago while watching the Jetsons and now he can have his own personal robot that not only vacuums the floors but washes them too. The Scooba Floor Washing Robot 385 is a robotic mop that rids your floor of dirt, then washes, scrubs and finally dries it using a squeegee, all the while dad can look on in amazement.

Scooba 385 RRP $599, at www.roomba.com.au

For the sporting dad

What does a gifting expert recommend for a sports lover? The Westfield Insider, (yes, that's her job title) Alyce Cowell's favourite product this season is the GoPro HD Motosports Hero camera.

"Dad simply straps it on the front of his car, motorbike or helmet and catches the action while partaking in his favourite motor sports, then shares the glory with the family when he gets home," says Alyce.

It's the high adrenaline equivalent of a slide show night.

The GoPro HD Motosports Hero is available at Ted's Cameras at Westfield Shopping Centres for $299.95

For the design-loving dad

Who would have thought a humble office chair would be on permanent display at the Museum of Modern Art. The Aeron Chair from Herman Miller revolutionised the way we work (it's cushionless and ergonomically contours to your body) and is the ultimate statement piece for the home office. Charmaine Chan from Living Edge furniture says it's a perennial best-seller.

The Aeron Chair from Herman Miller RRP $1195 from www.livingedge.com.au

Still looking?

Myer's Group General Manager Merchandise, Adam Stapleton, suggests these gifts:

Vinturi Wine Aerator - $64.95

Jeff Banks Belt Set - $59.95

Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography by Walter Isaacson (Little, Brown Company) $24.95

Vue 12-piece BBQ set - $49.95

Sony Tablet 16G $579