If the father in your life happens to be deployed this Father's Day, here are a few ideas to help bring him closer to home, if only in his mind:
• Gather your kids, pets, friends and neighbors for a formal portrait sitting; make a sign that says "Happy Father's Day from the Whole Gang!" and send him prints of the photo. Portraits usually cost between $100 and $250, depending on the photographer.
• Buy a cheap iPod Shuffle ($42 on Amazon.com) and load it with his favorite songs, songs that remind him of home and your "special song," and mail it to him in a care package.
• If you're taking a vacation or road trip this summer without Dad, have a life-size cardboard cutout made with his image; in all the photos, make sure "Dad" is included. http://www.lifesizecustomcutouts.com">Six-foot "Hero Helpers" are about $100; ask for the military discount.
• If you know his return date, visit http://www.stubhub.com">www.stubhub.com and purchase tickets to a concert or sporting event; scan the tickets and e-mail the photo to him on Father's Day. When he opens his e-mail, he'll see a pair of tickets to watch his favorite team compete.
• If you're short on cash (and who isn't these days?) you can still say "I love you" by sending him his favorite snacks, baked goods, magazines or toiletries in a care package. A homemade card from the kids, a recent snapshot and a handwritten letter will warm his heart as much as anything you could purchase. (Although tickets to see the Dallas Cowboys are a close second.)