Gifts for Visitors & Travel
Berkeley Parents Network >
Holidays and Special Events >
Gifts for Visitors & Travel
During a longer trip this summer, we are planning to spend the
day visiting a family in the UK that we got to know when they were
living in Berkeley for 3 years. We'd like to take them a small
gift, something California-ish that they can't get there. Their
kids are 11, 6, and 1. It can't be perishable or weigh too much.
No wine - don't want to pack it. Maybe something that the whole
family would enjoy. Any suggestions?
My family likes to get little fancy bottles of maple syrup and the guys like
salami. Fridge magnets of California beauty spots and parks are popular
because there are not many nice fridge magnets in the UK. Also we found
a monopoly game which featured US national parks-it's a little bulky but not
heavy. Be aware that gifts brought in to the UK may be charged import tax
if they are over a certain value and the duty free allowance for persons
from outside the European Union is smaller.
Take Giants hats or hoodies. They'll love them!
Worked for me
Scharfenberger chocolate. That's a ''it came from
Berkeley'' treat that everyone can enjoy. The milk
chocolate is the most family-friendly. Actually, get a
canister of their light-weight hot coco mix. Enjoy!
I would go to Fisherman's Wharf in the city, where there are
TONS of inexpensive shops that sell all kinds of memorabilia
that say ''California'' on them. Key chains, T-shirts, and
more stuff that you wouldn't think of...lots of personalized
stuff too, so you could maybe find little trinkets with
their names on them. Or...near the university there are
similar shops that sell ''Berkeley'' memorabilia, but I'd
guess they're a little pricier.
Have you asked them what they miss about the US? When we lived in the UK
last year, I could not find decent peanut butter, graham crackers, marshmallows
or Ranch dressing anywhere, so when friends came to visit that is what I asked
them to bring. I also missed Peets coffee. Are there any candies that the kids
miss? We are going back to visit the UK this summer, and I will bring back my
favorite teas and chocolates.
Does See's Candies or sourdough french bread count as
perishable?? I don't know a person in the world who would
not be happy to recieve See's. And, of course you are not
going to find real sourdough anywhere except our west coast.
American play money, American candy (there's is better, but ours is different;
tootsie pops, rootbeer or peanut butter flavor, mixed bags, See's) Native
American theme anything (a paper village they can all build together, Dover
makes some good ones) a light weight puzzle of the US where each piece is a
state, CA or Berkeley ( or whatever your town is) tshirts are crazy cheap at
walgreens, like 4 for ten bucks! CA seeds if they are gardeners. My Irish family
like pancake mix and maple syrup but it's heavy. Have a wonderful time!
Our UK family members love:
-Jelly Belly jelly beans
-USA tshirts - the kinds that come out in target/old navy for 4th july
I guess my family has a sweet tooth!
We bring packages like this back every summer, and they always request
They don't know about s'mores in the UK. Our Irish friends LOVED them, so I
sent them a s'more's kit. Apparently they don't have graham crackers, so include
an extra box along with the directions. They invited friends over to try this US
My daughter and I are visiting the family she lived with for
6 months when she was on semester abroad. Does anyone have
ideas for gifts? My daughter's French mom likes to cook and
read English books, and I have already sent her some books.
Also, I am visiting a friend in London and I appreciate any
ideas such as a restaurant for a gift certificate. Thank you
Given their love of cooking and ability to read
English, I would suggest American cuisine cookbooks, such
as Southern, New Orleans/Creole, New England, classic San
Francisco, or American comfort foods. Also, speciality
foods such as maple syrup, dried cranberries (brought
cranberries to a French friend last year who said that
she'd been wanting to do a recipe with cranberries but
couldn't find cranberries ANYWHERE in Paris!), Louisiana
hot sauce, real grits, or high end spice blends/mixes. A
bottle of zinfandel wine (particularly late harvest)would
also be a nice gift.
Also, a nice photo of YOUR family would also probably be
appreciated - especially if taken in front of a landmark
such as the Golden Gate bridge.
Our daughter brought a ''Cal'' stadium blanket as a present
when she studied abroad through UCB.
Local stuff makes great gifts. Try
http://www.juniperridge.com. They have California/western
soaps and teas that pack easily. Other ideas: UC Berkeley
tshirt or other gear, California olive oil, California photo
book or calendar. Have fun shopping.
Dear friends of our are traveling to Asia soon (Vietnam, Thailand,
Cambodia, and Laos). I'd like to give them a bon voyage care package
of little practical items that will be useful to them on the trip.
But I've never visited any of these countries, or done much overseas
travel at all. What should I give them?
-Friend of Globetrotters
As someone who has lived in Southeast Asia, although not the
countries you mention, this is the stuff I bring with me when I
go traveling there: wipes, sunscreen, small hand lotion,
bandaids, travel pak kleenex, ibuprofen, pepto bismol tablets,
Zantac, oral rehydration packets(although these can be bought
there), favorite toothpaste, dental floss. In other words,
toiletries and over-the-counter stuff that may be hard to find
there, or that aren't made to my own preference (band aids in
particular are something I always bring tons of). Not the most
glamorous gift, but it's the kind of things that you end up
having to go to Long's for on your way to the airport!
I organized tours to Asia in my past life. Here are my picks:
The Travelers' Tales books on those countries: short anecdotal
stories by travel writers and journalists that make for fun
reading on the trip. Light weight, folding umbrellas. We bought
a folding seat that could be used as a walking stick when
folded up for my travel partner who was older and had bad
knees. It was an absolute life saver in the heat while waiting
in lines or just resting. Tons of people asked us where we had
gotten it (The Travel Store on-line). A gift basket with gold
bond powder, wet wipes, waterless hand sanitizer, small flash
lights, extra batteries, dried fruits, nuts and granola bars,
and heavy duty sun screen (all travel size).
Pepto Bismal--its amazingly hard to find when you need it and nothing works like it.
Get the tablets, they pack better. Baby powder is really great in hot humid countries.
It's nice to have your own sheets and pillowcases, esp. if your friends are traveling on
the cheap--some travel stores sell a set of thin silk sheets that fold up very small. A
small photo album with pictures of their families and friends to show to their new
acquaintances (people love to see these).
former Asia traveler
I'm going to meet my birth mother for the first time at the end
of September. We've been in contact since February, but this
will be our first face-to-face meeting. I'd like to take her a
little gift. She lives in London and has for 20+ years, is very
worldly and cool (NOT a snob nor rich) and of course she has
access to lots of cool stuff there; what I'd like is to give
her something small (she's going to have to schlep it home to
London from Missouri where we're meeting), a unique ''Bay Area''
kind of thing, but it has to be really cool and not mass-
produced (not along the lines of Pottery Barn candlesticks,
pretty as they may be). I also don't want to spend a ton of
money. I'm thinking something that a local artist has
made . . . probably not jewelry because that's so
personal . . . any suggestions? (P.S. not looking for advice
about the meeting itself, got that covered, thanks, just want
You know you can give her the tackiest, stupidest thing possible and
because it's from YOU she'd love it forever.
And I know there's also the need to impress and ''prove'' yourself, but
hey, there are a lot of really ''uncool'' people in London too! (Lived
there - I know!).
Go with something that says YOU - not SF/Bay Area - something YOU
love, something you made, something you admire.
I think a beautifully framed photo of you would be THE best by far.
Easy, touching, something she'd proudly display or keep somewhere close
and look at it and say ''That's MY *child*...wow''
How about a nice bottle of wine? For many gifts, I go into my
local wine store in Montclair and ask for a suggest of a bottle
of wine that someone wouldn't be able to get outside of the Bay
Area. The only problem is, the bottles are usually at least
$40. And, you have to know if alcohol is an issue or not. But,
for the wine-friendly, it has brought joy to many people I know.
There are lots of nice, locally-made hand-crafted albums (hand-
tooled leather or hand-made from paper or fabric). Why not get
one of those and head down to the scrap-book place on 4th
Street in Berkeley and make a lovely scrap book for your birth
Mother, with photos of you growing up, special events in your
life, and anything else that would reflect your unique self?
For example, if you like to hike in Tilden, you could include a
map from the East Bay Regional Parks. Or include a copy of the
program for a play you were in as a kid in school, maybe even
copies of report cards, a used BART ticket if you ride BART a
lot--you get the idea. You could also wri! te in the book about
what was going on at the time or what you were thinking about
or what your favorite songs were at that point in your life.
She probably would love to have such a memento.
Congratulations! I suggest locally-produced, easily transportable
food, like Scharffen Berger chocolate (don't leave in a hot car),
fancy local olive oil like McEnvoy, or Frog Hollow dried apricots
or preserves. Sure, it won't be an everlasting keepsake, but
almost everyone likes gourmet food.
Of course you know that you are probably her greatest ''gift''
ever and she hardly needs more. However, I was thinking maybe a
nice framed picture of you as a young person or something that
you have made, sewn ,written, drawn, etc.... Keep it personal.
Best of luck to you
I would suggest finding a shawl or nice scarf--something
handmade. There are some amazing artisans here in the Bay Area
who work with textiles. Last Christmas I took a number of
scarves to England as gifts for not-so-near relatives and they
were a big hit.
How about a nice bottle of California wine?
In various guises (as renters, new relatives, home exchangers),
we will be meeting a number of families in France this summer.
We have already had such pleasant communications with them all
that we would like to take small gifts to them. What items could
we bring from the U.S. that would be appreciated by French
children (from 13 mos. to 18 years of age)? The smaller,
lighter, and cheaper, the better! We are at a loss for ideas.
As a high school exchange student, I needed to take small gifts
that not only met your criteria but also represented where I was
from. This may not be what you have in mind, and I was going to
a third world country so French children may not be as pleased as
my gift recipients were, but I brought: a cardboard puzzle map of
the US, t-shirts and other cheap San Francisco tourist items like
keychains from Chinatown, books of postcards showing where I
lived, small items (coin purse, eye pillow) made from kimono silk
from a Japanese giftshop because Japan is very exotic and
interesting in the country where I was on exchange (and to me
things Asian are an important part of what makes the SF area
great), UC Berkeley souvenirs (pencils, book marks), and some
crisp one dollar bills. It was very handy to have on hand a
number of extra things for children I met in my travels.
When choosing gifts for my husband's family in France, I've had
a lot of luck with American Indian items -- beaded jewelry,
dreamcatchers, T-shirts, etc. My favorite store is Gathering
Tribes on Solano, and I've also found items at Bill's Trading
Post on College at Ashby, and the gift shop of the anthropology
museum on campus.
It may be polically incorrect, but the french boys loved the
monster-type transformers we bought them.
this page was last updated: Nov 18, 2013
BPN is now a 501(c)(3) non-profit and we are building a new website!
Read more, and see how you can help:
The opinions and statements expressed on this website
are those of parents who subscribe to the
Berkeley Parents Network.
Disclaimer & Usage for
information about using content on this website.
Copyright © 1996-2015 Berkeley Parents Network