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Appropriate gift?

We will be traveling to Norway in May. We have made contact with some distant relatives we plan to connect with. Although we will not be staying with them we would like to bring them a gift. Any suggestions on something that would be unique enough to make an impact but not too large/heavy to haul? We have such a "connected" world anymore I just don't know what wouldn't be "carrying coals to Newcastle". Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Posted by
8293 posts

I'll suggest what I always do to this kind of question. Take them out to dinner at a restaurant of their choice. So much better than something from your home town.

Posted by
552 posts

I like bringing spice packets with southwest flair (Birria, Carne Asada Rub, Chili Mix, etc.) from a local, San Diego company that has great products.

Lightweight, carry-on approved, and not something they would find in their local stores.

Even places in Europe with Turkish and Moroccan immigrants wouldn't sees spice blends we take for granted, like Cajun, Memphis dry rub, Hatch Chili, etc.

Chinese five-spice powder, which is something you can find several varieties of in any 'China Town' in the USA, was impossible for me to find in Paris (so I'm guessing equally challenging in the rest of Europe). I had to use 'Ras el Hanout' to give my Foie Gras that sweet-spice, exotic flair I was looking for.

Posted by
507 posts


How about sending them a live plant & have it delivered the day before you meet?

It will remind them of you after you have left. If it is an ivy, your relatives can give clippings to other relatives you may meet.

{ADD: Since you are not staying with them, you could send a gift via DHL or similar service to your hotel (let the mgr know) to be held for your arrival.}

Posted by
7394 posts

I would suggest a small scenic book of the area where you live. Otherwise, a local box of chocolates or similar local specialty food.

Posted by
16705 posts

I find Norma's suggestion of a dinner out most appropriate.

But if you want to bring something from home, and you can determine whether they enjoy wine, a bottle of good wine from a local producer in your state or region could be a nice gesture ( assuming there is good wine grown in your area). Wine is expensive in Norway, and in some small towns can be difficult to obtain ( unless things have changed considerable since my last visit there).

As for the spice mixes---I have known Norwegians who are world travelers and gourmet cooks, who would appreciate something like that. I have also met Norwegians who did not travel and did not like spicy food at all---staying at their home meant a diet of bread, cheese, potatoes, fish cakes, cured salmon and the like. I offered to cook one night as was specifically instructed "no curry or spicy food".

A houseplant is pretty impersonal. And I honestly cannot recall seeing house plants in the Norwegian homes where I have been a guest. Low light conditions through the winter ( short days and long nights) are not ideal growing conditions, and many house plants of tropical origin fail to thrive at high latitudes ( as I know all to well from living in Alaska).

It would be helpful to know where moorestephen is from, as there may be some regional craft or art specialty, or a food that would be allowed through customs, that would make a good gift.

Posted by
1840 posts

We take them out to a nice dinner. I think the giving of gifts from home might be presumptuous. One gift that I have given is an old U.S. silver coin.

Posted by
11294 posts

I agree with Lola's points. Alcohol of all kinds is famously expensive in Norway (even to Norwegians), so if you can confirm that they imbibe, wine or liquor might be very appreciated. But food and spices can be tricky; you don't know how they will feel about "foreign" tastes, especially strong ones. Some people love them and others don't. This is particularly true of local food favorites; they often don't translate, particularly if you haven't grown up with them.

I like the idea of taking them to dinner at a local restaurant. And don't think that it's a "cheap" gift. In Norway, it's not (but then, nothing is, as you'll soon discover).

Posted by
5837 posts

Agree with Lola. If you're from California, Oregon or Washington, a good bottle of local wine.