Gift for SA colleague

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Aug 11th, 2004, 10:24 AM
  #1
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Gift for SA colleague

I need to buy a small gift (under $50) for our colleague in SA who has helped us arranged all the logistics for our stay and our work-related activities.

Any suggestions for a gift for a youngish professional woman?

We are avoiding food/plants/flowers as we want to be able to pack it.
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Aug 11th, 2004, 12:28 PM
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I think the best thing to take is something (handicraft or whatever) that your local area is noted for.

If all else fails, a coffee table book about your city or region makes a suitable gift.

I would recommend against any kind of electrical appliance, because of the differences in voltage between your home country and South Africa.

This probably wouldn't be a suitable suggestion, because the recipient is a woman, but the multipurpose tools manufactured by Leatherman are popular with menfolk overseas (and with some womenfolk too, but you would have to know the woman well enough to be certain that something like that would appeal to her).

A local sports team's cap or shirt is a frequent suggestion to someone who raises a question such as yours, but I don't think it's a suitable gift for a businesswoman whom you may know only slightly and whose tastes probably aren't familiar to you. Sports memorabilia may or may not appeal to her.

Although local stores in Calgary sell plenty of souvenirs (T-shirts, tea towels, calendars, key chains, and the like), I usually have good luck at the store that's attached to our city's museum when I'm searching for a nicer kind of souvenir.

Hope that helps.
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Aug 12th, 2004, 06:05 AM
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If you can't find something concrete from your local area, you might look for a calendar that features pictures of whatever your area is noted for -- famous buildings or cities, or (in my case) farms and prairies. Our South African friends have appreciated those. Another idea is a regional cookbook, but that may or may not be appropriate for someone you know professionally. I like Judy's idea of shopping in a museum store.
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Aug 12th, 2004, 07:20 AM
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Find out if she likes wine. If she does a good bottle of wine might work because we don't see much (any?) USA (Californian) wines on our shelves.
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Aug 12th, 2004, 08:07 AM
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For a fellow Fodorite who put us up I took a pretty silk scarf - it was light and didn't take up much room and yet I felt it was special enough to convey my appreciation for her generosity.

For a fellow Fodorite who took us out and about I didn't know what to take but settled on a book about London; I went into my favourite travel bookshop in London and browsed through their wonderfully large collection and chose my favourite.

We visited Namibia 3 years ago and at the time clicked with an English woman working at the lodge. She happened to guide us during our visit though she was actually a manager not a guide at the time. Before this recent trip we asked if she'd participate in our wedding renewal ceremony and she agreed and she played the role of the officiant. I know she's a dedicated conservationist and loves wildlife. She's also petite and delicate and very pretty so I took her a lovely little brooch in the shape of a bird on the wing. It was from Past Times and made in a Victorian style and covered with tiny clear gems and a red gem as the eye. Much more delicate than it sounds and something a little personal as it related to her interests.
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Aug 12th, 2004, 11:53 AM
  #6
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Thanks for the ideas!

The only downside is that we are based in Washington DC and most travel here at some point during their tenure with the organization, so I don't necessarily know if souveneir types gifts would be appropriate.
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Aug 12th, 2004, 12:39 PM
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The fact that a person has visited a place or may visit a place in the future doesn't necessarily mean they wouldn't enjoy a souvenir from that place.

Put the shoe on the other foot. If you receive a visit from a South African in a year or two from now, I bet you won't mind it if they give you a set of place mats or coasters with South African animals or birds or flowers on them (or some such thing). I bet you won't say to yourself, "Oh well, I've already been to South Africa, so I don't feel like receiving anything more from South Africa." If anything, I would expect that the gift from South Africa would bring back pleasant memories for you.

We've been to Washington DC a few times but, when some friends from there visited us and gave us a coffee table book on the city, we appreciated it.
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Aug 15th, 2004, 07:45 PM
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Big vote against coffee table books. Heavy to carry and no one ever looks at them after the first time. Youngish professional woman - scarf is a great choice. I think Bloomingdales or Nordstrom or Neiman Marcus has designer ones for that price (small neck ones). I asked a SA woman for advice for a gift for another SA lady and she suggested sports clothing (this other woman was into sports) as she said, "It would be hard to get here."
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Aug 17th, 2004, 04:56 PM
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Another vote against coffee table books.Clematis is right in both respects.

What about one of the designer knock off pocketbooks (handbags). On my visit to South Africa in March, they were hot items.You can tell her that it is obviously not an original, but you had heard that the knock offs were popular. Anyone think this is a bad idea?

The plastic "jelly" bags were also popular there and considering that they are coming into their summer may be a good idea. http://www.nyhandbag.com/jelly_handbags.html
Or knock off watches?
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Aug 18th, 2004, 11:00 AM
  #10
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Thanks for lacking of knowing anything much about this lovely person, I just purchased an Ansel Adams book and a portfolio of his pictures of American National Parks.
We work for a worldwide conservation organizations, so it was befitting.

P/S. I'm going to just mail the book ahead of me with other supplies.
Thanks!
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Aug 18th, 2004, 11:36 AM
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Why not just ask her?
You might as well tell her "I'm going to bring a small gift to thank you for all of your support. People have suggested X and y and z. But I'd really like to bring you something that you would prefer...is there anything you would like that you can't obtain in SA?"

When I've done this (several times, always with women) they've given me good answers-- a book that is not available locally, sometimes magazines that they enjoy but can't get, one time a special face cream that wasn't available in SA. I never would have guessed what they craved from North America. And it is a way to get to know someone a bit better...
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Aug 18th, 2004, 06:40 PM
  #12
 
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Tashak, my applause. It's so simple but you'll get someone exactly what they want this way.
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Aug 19th, 2004, 06:11 AM
  #13
 
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Excellent choice, Jen!
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