Staying at someone's house, what to bring as a gift?

Old Jul 26th, 2004, 06:39 AM
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Staying at someone's house, what to bring as a gift?

Hi!
I need help from you guys! I am going to Oz soon from Canada, and will be staying in a family with a mom and her children (which are about my age). I want to give the mom a gift to thank her for letting me stay in her house (a few months!). I do not know her though. Any ideas on what could be an appropriate gift? Thanks for your suggestions!
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Old Jul 26th, 2004, 07:25 AM
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I have been to Oz twice - each time I stay with friends (that I met on the internet). I feel so lucky to stay with the locals because you get to do what they do - eat what they eat, etc. Can't get that when you stay in a hotel. Hope you feel lucky, too.
The first time I went it was 5 days after 9-11. I had already purchased T-shirts from Old Navy with the US Flag on the front. Little did I know it was going to be so popular. I also took "flag" bandanas that were real popular too. All their friends wanted one. I took foods from my area (North Florida) that I knew they couldn't get there - local honey, local BBQ sauce, jams, grits, etc - stuff like that. Oh yea, and canned onions rings - made by French's I think. I found out they don't have them when I shared a receipe that called for them.
On my 2nd trip I sent ahead a box with goodies in it. The son had asked for a real baseball shirt and the girls asked for some T-shirts with Florida printed on it and anything Victoria Secret (teenage girls). The husband asked for the most unusual thing ... a US Mailbox. Seems the Aussie postal system is different from ours - the mailmen do not pick up mail and they don't deliver junk mail. My friends love their mailbox and several of their friends have asked me to send them one, too. I also took Tootsie Rolls which they loved and had several people ask me about Big Red Chewing Gum (which I happened to have in my bag).
I also made sure I had US currency to give the kids (& some adults). I made sure I had enough coins and $1 bills and explained each denomination (the Aussies don't have pennies and $1 bills). I took some of that Aussie brand shampoo - seems they don't have that over there and all thought it was hilarious.
Hope I didn't bore you with all this. Just wanted to share what I worked for me. Trying to get back there this Christmas.
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Old Jul 26th, 2004, 07:43 AM
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If I knew which part of Canada you were from, I could probably help more. Darn this website for not allowing people to easily pin-point where they are from!
My adventures in Canada spanned several weeks, but were limited to the west and the Rockies, so I guess I can give you tips about what to bring from there.
What about some of the gemstone jewellery readily available in the Banff/Vancouver area. I can't actually recall the exact name, but it was similar to amber- but cloudier,was reasonably cheap and was a greeny/yellow colour. It was prismatic, showing off the light in various ways when you moved it around. I also bought some nice amber/silver jewellery(not really expensive)in Banff, so that might also be something you could bring.
What about some of those nice carved animals that were in the craft stores I saw in Gastown? I saw loads of them. Think it was referred to as "Canadian Jade", although it isn't jade, and it wasn't always green. Hand-carved small sculptural items of native species.
I also bought loads of "First Nations" inspired jewellery. Anything like that would be a 'winner'.
Personally, if I was getting a visitor from Canada I'd just ask you to ship out a box full of fresh salmon! Yours beats ours- hands down! Ours is very good- but yours is much better!
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Old Jul 26th, 2004, 07:43 AM
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If I knew which part of Canada you were from, I could probably help more. Darn this website for not allowing people to easily pin-point where they are from!
My adventures in Canada spanned several weeks, but were limited to the west and the Rockies, so I guess I can give you tips about what to bring from there.
What about some of the gemstone jewellery readily available in the Banff/Vancouver area. I can't actually recall the exact name, but it was similar to amber- but cloudier,was reasonably cheap and was a greeny/yellow colour. It was prismatic, showing off the light in various ways when you moved it around. I also bought some nice amber/silver jewellery(not really expensive)in Banff, so that might also be something you could bring.
What about some of those nice carved animals that were in the craft stores I saw in Gastown? I saw loads of them. Think it was referred to as "Canadian Jade", although it isn't jade, and it wasn't always green. Hand-carved small sculptural items of native species.
I also bought loads of "First Nations" inspired jewellery. Anything like that would be a 'winner'.
Personally, if I was getting a visitor from Canada I'd just ask you to ship out a box full of fresh salmon! Yours beats ours- hands down! Ours is very good- but yours is much better!
Possum
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Old Jul 26th, 2004, 07:47 AM
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Sorry for posting twice- and then again! Hit the wrong button accidently.
Wish there were some basic "editing" facilities on this website.
What I wanted to say was- let me know where you live in Canada, and I may be able to help you further!
Possum
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Old Jul 26th, 2004, 08:28 AM
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I'm in Montreal, Quebec.

So, something typical of my region right? But I don't want to give something the woman will not enjoy... It's so hard when you don't know the person at all!
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Old Jul 26th, 2004, 09:07 AM
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Hmmm, what about maple syrup? A friend is going to visit family in Ireland next week and that's what he's taking - they can't easily get it there.

My mother-in-law is in Australia, and we always have a problem knowing what to get her.

Another thing that might be nice would be some Quebec crafts - you know, some more traditional types of art work.
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Old Jul 26th, 2004, 07:43 PM
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I second the maple syrup - the stuff we get here in Oz is vile. I have a particularly nice one in my fridge right now, kindly brought by a Canadian guest - doesn't seem to have a brand name, its in a white tin with red artwork (maple trees, log cabin and a little man with a pompom on his hat) -labelled "Sirop d'erable PUR" with a little overlabel "Produit du Quebec- Gerald Beauregard et Fils Enr - JOH 1JO" Yum!
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Old Jul 26th, 2004, 09:21 PM
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When I visited friends in Oz, they requested stuff from The Gap. DON"T bring any clothes from Roots as 'rooting' has a completely different connotation in Australia! Oreo cookies were a hit. Our ketchup is different from theirs so a bottle of that might be interesting...Clothes w/some of the bigger-named sports teams, especially football or baseball...
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Old Jul 27th, 2004, 03:34 AM
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I thought we couldn't bring food into Oz.. But if Maple Syrup works, I'll surely bring some down...!

Any other ideas?
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Old Jul 27th, 2004, 03:56 AM
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Certainly, foodstuffs bought into Australia have to be declared. But I don't think Canadian maple syrup would presemt a problem
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Old Jul 27th, 2004, 06:16 PM
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Hi,
We brought regional stuff to our hosts. Coming from the SW USA, a kachina doll, and books about local culture were well received, as were home baked goods.

When we left we were able to gift them our beach towels. Most importantly we are looking forward to reciprocating their hospitality in a few years.

AndrewDavid
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Old Jul 28th, 2004, 01:31 PM
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The story on food imports into Australia can be found at www.aqis.com.au, the Australian Quarantine Inspection Service website.
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Old Jul 29th, 2004, 05:48 AM
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If you find out that you CAN bring Maple Syrup into Oz and it is in a glass bottle, don't forget to enclose it in one of those zip-lock bags before packing it in a safe spot. One decent bump during luggage handling and you could have a very "sticky" situation on your hands(and clothes)!
Nothing would be more embarassing than saying to your unknown host, "Err,can I fill your washing machine with my glass and maple syrup- infused clothing?, and sorry- it WAS your present!" Might not make for the most harmonious start!
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Old Jul 30th, 2004, 01:59 PM
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If you are going to a cold area of Australia and you are staying for a time then I personally would like to recieve a nice fur hat or scarf as these items are not available here very often and then the choice is limited. Orios are available in Australia but are not a patch on our own chocolate bikkies, in my opinion. I think you have to go a long way in getting something better than our Cadburys Chocolate and Cadburys is not the same all over the world either.
Something regional is always a nice item - a guest brought me a nice oven mit in the form of a Ca. flag and that is a most useful item as well. Gap clothing is not made in Canada I think now - its outsourced to Asia as is everything - at least that is my belief. You have some really beautiful Iniut (sp??) carvings that I think are lovely and that would be nice- and different, although heavy. The Salmon would be great but I think that would not go through Customs here unless it was tinned. I still get a craving for a kind of made up lime drink you can get in Canada - you make it up from powder and I used to drink nothing else when I lived there. Then of course there are some rather nice Canadian spirits that would go down well. But if you are from Montreal then I am sure there are some really lovely regional items that you have there with a French flavour.

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Old Aug 2nd, 2004, 09:15 AM
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I think most "cooked" things should be OK to bring into Australia. The customs folks looked at me funny when I asked about some jam I was bringing as a gift. (THey looked at me funny in the US when I checked "yes" on the food item and then showed them the Anzac bisquits as well.) For that reason I would think maple syrup or maple candy would probably be OK.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2004, 12:52 PM
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Talked with my Aussie friend last night and asked her about this thread. She said the nicest gift(s) I have given her is the times I cooked supper or breakfast for them. I remember one night I cooked fried chicken, mash potatoes and cornbread. The cornbread didn't come out all that good (to me) but they don't have JiffyMix down there. I wanted to fix butter or lima beans but couldn't find them. I can't remember what kind of beans it was that I fixed but no one ate them.
My friends enjoyed eating something they would not normally have.
You might want to think about treating your host to a night of Canadian cuisine.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2004, 01:27 PM
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TallyLass, you must have been in a pretty remote location - dried butter/lima/borlotti/kidney/etc/etc beans are widely available in supermarkets, Greeks delis and the like, and the canned versions are in every supermarket and convenience store.

Your suggestion is a good one. I'm intrigued about 'JiffyMix' though - what's in it? I'm wondering why one would use a prepared mix to make cornbread.
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Old Aug 3rd, 2004, 06:18 AM
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Neil,
I couldn't find fresh frozen butter beans in the grocery store where my friends live (The Dandenongs). Dried & canned just don't cut it ... not for this southern gal anyway.
JiffyMix is the best quick cornbread mix around. Even my grandmomma thought it was better than homemade.
While what I fixed for my Aussie friends might not sound unusual for ya'll ... my friends thought it was better than Kentucky Chicken (KFC) and having it fixed by a true southern made all the difference.
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Old Aug 3rd, 2004, 02:54 PM
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TallyLass - ah, fresh frozen is a different story - can't help you there. I guess there's not much demand among the bean-eating population here.

I was inspired to make some cornbread after visiting in your neck of the woods and used fine-ground cornmeal (sold here as polenta), buttermilk etc. It turned out OK, I thought, but I'm sure it wasn't a patch on yours. Same story with grits, which I prefer to oatmeal porridge - but then, I've always hated oatmeal.

So, what is that magic ingredient in JiffyMix?
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