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Gifts For British Family

We are meeting my husband's oxford college buddy in London and would like to bring a gift or gifts. London comes at the tail end of our month long trip so it must be small. The family has a 10 year old girl and a 7 year old boy.

We are considering Kentucky bourbon for the grownups and U.S. coins for the children. Last trip we brought a Smith & Wesson hat which was very popular, postcards, and a myrtle wood pen.

Any suggestions?

(EDITED TO ADD HAT--we didn't bring a gun to Britian)

Posted by
8889 posts

This has got to be a wind up. A real "Smith & Wesson"? Minimum sentence for possessing one is 5 years.

Posted by
4645 posts

A Smith & Wesson - really?

Anywho, for the kids, I'd bring some American style chocolate or t-shirts from your alma mater.

Posted by
4645 posts

Chris F - I know, that's what I thought, but this is a regular poster. Go figure.

Posted by
644 posts

Bourbon is a good idea, but many varieties are widely available here, so make sure it isn't one that they could get in London as the impact will be less. Coins for the kids does sound like a good idea, for the boy anyway.

Posted by
2108 posts

bourbon is only a good idea if you know they like whiskey

what's Portland famous for? buy something typical to your region - any native American items? - also American chocolates be careful - not Hershey's please don't - ugh…

Posted by
646 posts

Oregon is famous for salmon which we could bring smoked, wine, beer (bringing beer to England sounds redundant), myrtle wood, and hazelnuts. Are American breakfast cereals a good idea for the kids?

Posted by
27476 posts

Scottish smoked salmon is everywhere these days, at all social strata. Is Oregon smoked salmon a lot different?

Some American breakfast cereals are available at Tesco.

Posted by
646 posts

Nigel,
I haven't had Scottish smoked salmon, but I doubt there's much real differnce. I'll cross salmon off the list.

Emma,
We keep hearing about peanut butter M&Ms. Magazines are a good idea.

Posted by
2353 posts

Portland has several distilleries - check into those - you'll be assured of a unique whiskey!

Posted by
3428 posts

What about smallish dream catchers for the kids? Find some that would pack very flat. Or some small beaded Native American jewelry for the girl and a sports hat for the boy? For the adults, a box of See's chocolate and a picture calendar or coffee table book featuring your area. Handmade items often go over well, too. Small lace doilies, placemats, dresser scarves, etc.

Posted by
5385 posts

It's unfair to stereotype, but I've found U.K. residents to be big whiskey lovers, all of them! So we brought some small distillery items that were indeed a big hit. If weight permits, some high-end California or Washington wines. Some silly American things, like a Beer-Can Chicken Rack for the grill, dumb Barbecue Aprons, unique Tee-Shirts (that Portland TV show, or Grimms?) Portland museum of art poster. Because we once visited them for the Chelsea Flower Show, we brought stuff from the Philadelphia Flower Show.

I agree about the salmon. They know more about salmon than we do, and they can get it with the name of the Loch it was caught in on the box. Bourbon barrels have actually been exported to England for some purposes. I've read that the "real" American whiskey is Rye. (I do like Bourbon, however.)

Posted by
3287 posts

I was an exchange teacher for a year in London, and I wanted something American to give my kids as good-by gifts at the end. My daughter, who was working at Warner Bros. at the time, got me T-shirts with well-known cartoon characters on them. The kids went wild, so I think T-shirts may be a good idea. How about ones that say "Oregon"? Too big is better than too small. I visited the next year, and brought individual size bags of Jelly Bellies in some exotic flavors. At the time, they were unknown in England; and, again, the kids went wild. Don't know if they've now spread across the pond. Emma? Nigel?

Posted by
9363 posts

I struggle with the same thing when I visit friends in Spain. I know their tastes a bit now, so it's a little easier, but I try to stick with things that are made in the US. The first time I visited them (husband, wife and daughter), the little girl was 3 and I took her a variety of little hair accessories - bows, clips, etc. - in a little purse (she has always been a girlie girl). I took candy and Beer Nuts (made in my town and nowhere else in the world) for the adults, as well as a calendar of natural areas in Illinois. On my visit this year, I again took Beer Nuts for the husband (because he loves them), a small Yankee Candle in a votive candle holder for the wife, and the daughter, who just turned 12, got several kinds of sparkly nail polish and nail stickers, along with some fruit flavored lip glosses, all made in the US.

Regarding the bourbon - do you know if your friends like bourbon? Not everyone drinks alcohol. Are you planning to just take tiny bottles in your 3-1-1 bags, or put it in your checked bags?

Posted by
71 posts

I think alderwood smoked salmon in a PNW native art box is an excellent gift for just about everyone. It's easy for you to get and pack and will still be in good shape when you gift it at the end of the trip.

Posted by
2353 posts

emma - you have been drinking the wrong whiskey! There are so many varieties and each has its own personality. Like fine wines - older is better.

My secret can't get in the US love - no laughing - BN Biscuits! The raspberry ones!

Posted by
7124 posts

10 yo girl - Book on natural wonders of Pacific North West ??
7 yo boy - Baseball cap/tshirt ??

Posted by
2818 posts

Given the depleted state of Scotland's wild salmon stocks, I doubt people in the UK are on a first name basis with their salmon's birthplace. Unless perhaps it is the name of the farm where it was raised.

Vhttp://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/the-loss-of-scottish-salmon-is-a-cultural-catastrophe-10158356.html

I think a gift of dry-smoked ( Native American style) wild PNW salmon is a great idea---assuming no problem with bringing it into the UK.

Posted by
6258 posts

Accentuate Oregon's natural beauty. Take thungereggs or sunstones. A booklet on the coastal redwoods or Mt St Helen's eruption.
Oregon has some fine wines. Check if they can brought into the country. Maybe a slouchie or knit cap saying Portland or Oregon or The Gold Coast.

Posted by
5483 posts

Living in the UK, I only know one person that drinks whisky and he's Scottish!

You say this will be at the end of a month long trip, so do you really want to carry a heavy bottle around for this time, assuming it doesn't get smashed by the airline in transit and ruin all your clothes? What kind of preservatives does your salmon have that means you can keep it for a month out of a fridge?

I think you are better buying tshirts that are small and light. Takes up less room and no risk of breaking. Alternatively, locally made key ring fobs are always useful. Sweets are always popular with children, but not chocolate, as we tend to dislike Hersheys and this may melt in your month away.

Posted by
646 posts

We did a little shopping yesterday and got M&Ms in crispy, peanut butter, smoores, and pretzel. We also got a couple mini flags as the stores are littered with them for Independence Day. That and Oregon quarters are what we have for the kids.

We had a brain storm about the gentlemen. He has some interest in early U. S. hisory. We have a small collection of Indian spearheads, and civil war muscat bullets that my husband and his father collected on walks in Georgia. They are small and come with personal stories. Are they as good an idea as we think they are?

I have a number of miniature Navaho and Zuni pots (the biggest is less than an inch high). They too come with stories. I thought one for the wife might be a good idea. I've bought them mostly directly from the artists and I have postcards of the Pueblos where I bought them.

Posted by
27476 posts

other than security, and if they are buried in checked baggage and spread around, surely not considered ammunition, I think this latest list is really good....

Posted by
646 posts

Emma,

I'll check about the stone spear heads and the muscat balls. The spear heads were in the ground a long time and are in no way sharp anymore. On the security camera I think it'll look like a nondescript rock. I cannot imagine how a spent muscat ball would constitute a weapon. It never was explosive, it's just a small lump of metal with a history. You might throw it at someone, but you couldn't fire it again.

We are flying out of Canada. Does anyone know if their security is less insane than TSA?

Ish, I just looked. http://www.catsa.gc.ca/complete-item-list?keys=&field_wtp_category_tid=6&nid=&page=5 Spent bullets might really be taken unless checked. It would take a zealous security person, but they might. We would only bring one of each.

Posted by
71 posts

My take on coins for kids: They'll say, 'Oh, cool' and then the coins will sit in a drawer or somewhere. At that age, my son would have politely accepted them but never looked at them again. He would have loved something to eat or a cool t-shirt, though. Actually, he still loves things to eat. I just got back from a trip and my gifts to him were chocolate bars from every country I visited. That's what he loves.

I personally am not a fan of knickknacks or doodads from any country, unless I can actually use it for something (i.e., my friend brought me a cool dish that she bought butter in when she lived in Germany, and I use it as a bowl for lots of stuff; another friend brought me a tablecloth from Poland I use; another friend brings me my favorite can chuhai from Japan--you get the idea).

Posted by
5385 posts

We saw M&Ms of all kinds, and bagged (not boxed) Oreos at Milan duty-free November 2015. As if they were expensive delicacies!

OTOH, our Belgian friends love the stuffed pretzel bits (like simulated cheese product ... ) sold in US supermarkets, as well as in truck stops! They can't get them in Brussels.