Gifts for cousins in Italy

Dec 2nd, 2007, 07:33 PM
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Gifts for cousins in Italy

We, (husband, my parents and I) are going to Italy next May. We will be staying there 3 weeks although the middle week we will be on a cruise. The rest of the time my husband and I stay with one cousin, my parents stay with my aunt and we meet every day for lunch and/or dinner at my other cousins.

We usually bring gifts for the relatives. My aunt we don't have to worry about as my father is paying for her cruise. But my cousins and their wives, (ages 56-64) we are at a loss for.

Last time we brought a crystal Empire states building for one couple and a crystal Statue of Liberty for the other.

Can anyone give me any ideas? We want to spend about $100 per couple.
I know posters sometimes suggest getting something connected with where you live. We live in NJ and my parents in FL but I can't come up with much even with that. Thanks.
dvg1027 is offline  
Dec 7th, 2007, 09:09 AM
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This is a tough one for me to answer too. It seems like my friends and relatives in Italy don't want anything in particular from the US (although they do like the USA).

My Italian friends can always get everything they want from buying in Italy or elsewhere in Europe, it seems.

Ralphie is offline  
Dec 7th, 2007, 12:19 PM
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I'm always stuck with this one too! I find CD's go over very well...of course, you do need to know what type of music they like ;-) something "American" though...Jazz, etc. (CDs are VERY expensive in Italy...somtimes triple the price here...and they are easy to travel with)
CasaDelCipresso is offline  
Dec 7th, 2007, 03:44 PM
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An extremely successful gift is a photograph of a family group. Right now, I am preparing to mail beautiful photos taken when we visited our cousins in Italy. I had two different photos enlarged to five by seven size prints, and I bought nice wooden frames at Bed Bath and Beyond. I am mailing the photos in the frames to the cousins. Every time I have done this in the past they have put the framed photos on their side table, sideboard, hanging on the wall, in a cabinet, somewhere in view in their homes.

True, this is a gift that cannot be presented until after the visit, but I have found it to be a very successful gift.

canyonjane is offline  
Dec 7th, 2007, 05:25 PM
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I know this is obvious, but I would also suggest going out for a meal with your cousins and paying for that meal whether it's dinner or lunch or pizza for everyone in the group together.

I have learned to listen closely to comments our cousins make when we're with them and so I was able to find out that one cousin misses a certain tea he used to get from Fortnum and Mason in London when he went there on business so when I was in London, I had some of that tea shipped to him in Italy.

Again, it was a gift sent after the visit but the main thing is that it was definitely a success.

As you no doubt know, anything sweet is an inappropriate gift for anybody in Italy, and in fact, food of any kind is difficult because they are so highly opinionated about food. Not that there's anything wrong with it!
canyonjane is offline  
Dec 7th, 2007, 07:19 PM
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"Anything sweet is an inappropriate gift for anybody in Italy." Odd. Some of our friends there always ask for real maple syrup.
Jean is offline  
Dec 8th, 2007, 10:16 AM
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I too disagree...very good quility chocolates are always appropriate around Christmastime (just not in Summer!!!).
CasaDelCipresso is offline  
Dec 9th, 2007, 07:57 PM
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Perhaps it may be a matter of regional differences or just the particular savory palate of our relatives in Italy. However, I have a sibling in Vermont who owns a long established sugarbush and after going to some trouble many years ago to give Italian cousins small containers of real Vermont maple syrup, it was pretty clear to me that they didn't care for it. I should add that several of them are professionally involved in food and wine production so maybe that's the reason. I'm quite interested to hear that there is an Italian in Italy who likes maple syrup!

As for the chocolates, I would very much like to know which chocolates would you give to Italians in Italy? It would help to expand the possibilities for me as a gift giver!

canyonjane is offline  
Dec 9th, 2007, 08:09 PM
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How about checking out some local craft galleries or fairs. You might find a hand-carved box or bowl, or piece of pottery or a wall-hanging - something made by an American craftsman.
NGail is offline  
Dec 9th, 2007, 08:29 PM
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Canyonjane, I buy chocolates in Italy to give to my Italian friends in Italy. I do not bring any over from the US.
LoveItaly is offline  
Dec 9th, 2007, 09:09 PM
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Are there any wildflowers native to NJ? A few packs of native wildflower seeds might be nice, as I'd think anything you can grow in Jersey will grow in Italy. Throw them in with a "hand painted" flower pot. (Just buy a terra cotta pot and paint it to reflect something personal. When my brother passed, my sister collected some beautiful maple leaves from his front lawn tree. She "shellacked" them to the front of a plain terra cotta flowerpot, then painted the rim gold and added a few other decorative touches. THen sprayed it with a clear finishing product. She made one for each sibling. I love mine.

Are there still any beautiful fall leaves by you? Now would be the time to collect a few and make the flower pots. Other ideas for the flower pot might be to use a map of Jersey and a family photo or just hand-paint it with whatever you like. The finishing spay seals it all onto the flower pot. I love mine! (Sister also hand-painted me a mailbox for my bday last year with little items for the state I live in-Texas. A coyote, a pair of cowboy boots, a roadrunner,etc. I love it and my mail-lady says it is one of the neatest mailboxes she's ever seen!
sarge56 is offline  
Dec 10th, 2007, 09:17 AM
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<<I'm quite interested to hear that there is an Italian in Italy who likes maple syrup!>>

The Italians I know who like maple syrup have visited the US and enjoyed pancakes there, so they understand its possible uses. It does seem to be a hit-or-miss proposition.

Similarly, some of my Italian friends always pick up a jar of peanut butter when they visit the US. Others have stated that eating peanut butter is like eating dirt.

One simple item that always seems to be a hit: Jiffy Pop Popcorn (the kind you cook on top of the stove in its own pan). It is very unusual, seems very American, and preparing it becomes a piece of theater. Not very elegant, but memorable.
ellenem is offline  
Dec 10th, 2007, 10:42 AM
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There's a real - and consistent -lesson in these replies.

There's no present you can think of Italians will welcome from America. There are SOME presents SOME Italians might like.

And what determines that? The individuals concerned. About whom, in this case, you know an AMAZING amount more than anyone on this site.

They might like (though God knows why) maple syrup. They might like wild flower seeds, or a facsimile of Audubon's drawings or a locally-made quilt.

But they can get (and probably have) on a plane to America any time they like and buy those things for themselves, except they're already available cheaper, better and also made in China, at the local hypermarket.

The simple answer is to forget about nationality. What would you take to a relative a few hundred miles away if you were staying with them? Well, mutatis mutandis, that's exactly what you shoud get for these Italian cousins.
flanneruk is offline  
Dec 10th, 2007, 11:20 AM
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Ditto Flanner.

And also, if they were brought up right, they will smile and say how much they love whatever you bring them even if they hate it.

Which probably explains all the "I brought my European friends a x, y and z and they loved it..." stories.
Pete_R is offline  
Dec 10th, 2007, 12:28 PM
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We went to Milan on a business trip last year and had coworkers that showed us around, took us to dinner, and purchased nice books about the city for our leave.

We had no idea what to get them as a big thank you gift. But, the one thing we learned was that they LOVED American basketball. . .so we got them jerseys of their favorite team (they loved the bulls) and some gear. They were BEYOND thrilled. One of the managers travelled to the US a few months later and we got him to a basketball game as well.
lamgray is offline  
Dec 10th, 2007, 12:54 PM
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If it were me, I would probably bring a bottle of brown liquor. You could go with a good aged bourbon, for example, if you want to stick with American. Maple syrup?? Never, unless they have expressed an interest.

Or pick up something really luxe like Johnny Walker Blue at the duty free (admittedly over the stated budget)

ekscrunchy is online now  
Dec 11th, 2007, 11:04 AM
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"See's Candies" have gone over well as far as chocolates - yummy AND American ;-)
CasaDelCipresso is offline  
Dec 11th, 2007, 02:15 PM
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Yep. Suggestions are all over the place.

Some comments about the maple syrup thing: Our friends traveled to the U.S. with small children many years ago, and the kids got hooked on pancakes and waffles. They carried home boxes of pancake mix and bottles of maple syrup. Over the years, the syrup was requested because they had introduced the kids' friends to pancakes as a special treat (usually dessert!), and then they were all hooked. One friend, an excellent cook, found several other uses for the syrup including a spectacular adult (mostly) dessert; for the garnish, she spun the syrup like cotton candy.
Jean is offline  
Dec 12th, 2007, 07:53 AM
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I like the idea of pancake mix! Definitely American.

I'd heard about Greeks loving American peanut butter but not Italians (yes I'm generalizing, but just going by my own experience and secondhand stories). I'll consider that too.

Ralphie is offline  
Dec 12th, 2007, 10:30 AM
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Is there a way you can just ask them beforehand if there is anything special they would like from the USA? If not, I would take them to dinner in a nice place while you are visiting and then send them some photos of it later, maybe in a nice frame.

I can picture syrup being poured out after you leave, it is sort of an acquired taste. They have chocolates and all the rest.

SeaUrchin is offline  

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