Gifts for Visitors & Travel
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Gifts for Visitors & Travel
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.
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