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sandykins Apr 1st, 2004 08:01 AM

U.S.-made gifts for Britons and Europeans?
I am always at a loss for U.S.-made gifts that I can bring to Britons and Europeans. Living in Maryland just outside of D.C., I want to give something that is representative of the region or at least of the U.S. AND that will be appreciated by Britons or Europeans AND that can pass through Customs.

I think: Maple syrup? Maple candy? Peanuts? Cranberry preserves? Native American handcrafts? Pecans? Revere-style silver? Trite? Boring?

Anyone on either side of the Atlantic have any ideas? Your suggestions would be a real treasure trove for the next time I need to think of a gift. Many, many thanks!

elina Apr 1st, 2004 08:17 AM

Maple syrup and different US nuts are sold in supermarkets in Europe. But yet it is not a bad idea if they are in special gift boxes, and not just something you have grabbed from the nearest supermarket. Sort of "luxus maple syrup".

I have been given native American handicrafts a couple of times, and I have been pleased. Once I got some glass tableware from depression time. I have forgotten the name for that type of glass, but it had a word "depression" in the name. That was a good choice. At least for me, the giver knew my taste in tableware which is "I hate anything and everything that yells DESIGN".

And once I got simple wooden candlesticks made by a local artesan. I think I have had those more than 20 years by now, and they are still my favourites.

And of course coffee table books are always good.

BTilke Apr 1st, 2004 08:25 AM

Out with most of the food ideas. You can get maple syrup, etc., at most European grocery stores.
A few ideas: a coffee table book with excellent photos of the region, for example, the Chesapeake Bay.
Those oval Shaker style boxes are stylish and Shaker style has plenty of fans in the UK and Europe.
Small art glass items. When we lived in the Pacific NW, we always brought over small Mount St. Helen's art glass pieces (these were pieces of art glass made with the ash from Mt. St. Helen's). Our European friends loved these--not only were they quality pieces of art glass, they were very interested in the connection with the volcano. We also brought over bottles of good Oregon pinot noir and this NW beer that has espresso in it (think it's called Espresso Stout). Our Belgian friends were very amused by the Espresso Beer!
A casual gift is a full size Rand McNally U.S./Canada road atlas. Helpful for Europeans planning trips to the U.S. and also handy for looking up U.S. places that make the European news (like the Iowa caucuses earlier this year).
If your friends like skin care, then Kiehl's would probably be appreciated. You can get it in the UK and continental Europe, but not all that easily.
Depending on your friend's political views, a book or two might be an interesting gift. We gave a Scottish couple copies of Fast Food Nation and the latest Al Franken book, which they really enjoyed. But you have to know their views to make the right choice.

missypie Apr 1st, 2004 08:36 AM

The type of peanuts you can buy at Williamsburg might be a unique treat. (Are they boiled? I forget.)

If you know in advance that you are bringing gifts to any hard core Harry Potter fans, you might want to bring a paperback of one the Harry Potter books so they can enjoy the language differences between the American and British/original versions.

One thing that might be kind of a hoot for them is an American travel guide for their region. There was an article in the newspaper a while back that talked about what foreign travel guides said about Dallas...hey wait, I forgot to wear my cowboy boots and hat to work today!

Underhill Apr 1st, 2004 08:46 AM

Our French friends like brownie mix, Native American crafts, origami paper (hard to get there), and American maps. Their cat appreciates catnip products; for some reason catnip doesn't seem to be easily found in France. A dictionary of American slang is also good.

EnglishOne Apr 1st, 2004 08:51 AM

Maple syrup is a great idea, as long as it is 'special', like it states that it was produced locally, or maybe a 'kitch' shaped bottle may be fun. I always regret coming home from Arizona without buying an 'authentic' (to us British) Native American dreamcatcher or the like. I bought one at home but it was never the same.

On returning from New Orleans, we just had to bring home the Rendevous sauce and dry rub powder for Ribs. Always reminds me of the Big Easy when we have Ribs :)
Is there any delicacy in Maryland that is uniquely yours that you could bring? Authentic Maryland Cookies?! (we have them here I take it they are from your State!)

My friend brought me home a New York Yankees baseball and Shirt and I was thrilled with them. When I saw the Memphis baseball team I bought home a 'real' baseball hat! how cool!

RufusTFirefly Apr 1st, 2004 09:05 AM

From Maryland--how about Old Bay Seasoning or Berger's Cookies? Or a crab tie or Chesapeake Bay cookbook--if they like seafood? Or a small gift basket with a couple of items.

monicapileggi Apr 1st, 2004 09:30 AM

I live in Maryland and am bring some local jams to someone in Italy. My cousin (from Boston) is bringing maple syrup. Although it can be purchased in Europe, I still think it's a great idea and one that our friends will appreciate.

I like some of the ideas posted here!

Monica ((f))

palette Apr 1st, 2004 09:59 AM

Ok, born and raised in Maryland here, what are Berger's cookies. I have never heard of them. This is an interesting post because I will be going to Croatia in September; one of the planned events is an in-home dinner. Now I know they are paid to do this, but I also wanted to bring something as a thank you - American but not too poltical. I was considering a White House or Capitol Xmas tree ornament, or something along those lines. I don't think Maryland blue crabs would travel well! Years ago I took a Lennox peace dove bowl, a keychain made with a buffalo nickel, and some National Geographic books on the US to my Swedish exchange daughter's family. It is hard these days to find something typically American that isn't available elsewhere.

bellairegirl Apr 1st, 2004 10:07 AM

I'm also born and raised in Maryland (but have lived in Texas almost 20 years now), and I fondly remember Berger cookies -- round cake-like bottoms with a thick chocolte fudge layer on top (with the consistency of fudge). Yummm.

Also, how about Utz potato chips (with crab flavor seasoning). If you can't get it in Texas, you probably can't get it in Europe.


Katharine22 Apr 1st, 2004 11:05 AM

This is more general, but I think a Better Homes and Gardens cookbook would be a neat gift. It has a lot of "traditional" American recipes.

missypie Apr 1st, 2004 11:38 AM

A cookbook would be a great idea!...maybe even one of those self published church or office cookbooks (where you find recipes for things like Jello molds and King Ranch chicken)...what about measurements? If they differ, you may want to include a set of inexpensive meauring cups.

AnneB Apr 1st, 2004 11:46 AM

Hi, I have found that adding a blueberry or cranberry pancake mix with the maple syrup was very welcome. Also, as someone else suggested, clothing with American sports teams ( including colleges) is always well received-- Deflated basketball with perhaps the Final Four logo, or a basketball jersey. The ESPN Zone in Baltimore has some fun stuff.

sandykins Apr 1st, 2004 12:07 PM

Wow, thank you all for these wonderful ideas! Love them all. I have 26 hours before my flight to London, and I am running out tonight for a huge jar of Old Bay seasoning and a Chesapeake Bay coffee-table book or cookbook -- love these two Maryland-specific gift ideas. (Why didn't I think of Old Bay, right in my pantry!) I am compiling a list of all the other terrific ideas you've mentioned, for reference the next time I need to find a gift (and have more time to buy it!).

Thank you all tremendously for coming through for me. And please keep the ideas coming, as I am making a list. Again, much thanks!

Underhill Apr 1st, 2004 12:13 PM

To go with the cookbook, take a set of American measuring cups and spoons; makes things much easier for people in the U.K. and Europe.

SuzieC Apr 1st, 2004 12:16 PM my mouth a'waterin! Get one of the crabbers from Crisfield to send crabcakes and Olde Bay. What could be better than Crab Cakes and Pommes Frites? Otherwise, this year, there really are some beeeeautiful coffee table books out on the Cheseapeake and Williamsburg.

RufusTFirefly Apr 1st, 2004 12:27 PM

HOLY COW! A Maryland native and no Berger's Cookies???

I get them at the JiffyMart at 140 and Sandymount Road in Carroll County.

RufusTFirefly Apr 1st, 2004 05:25 PM

The only thing I can thing of better than Crab Cakes and Pommes Frites would be Crab Cakes and Pommes Frites and beers, hon.

bellairegirl Apr 1st, 2004 06:42 PM

I may be a little biased because I'm still a big O's fan, but what about some Baltimore Orioles caps or a U of Md or Johns Hopkins lacrosse shirt?

There's also some wonderful Chesapeake Bay cookbooks that I've seen at Harbor Place, as well as some stationery/blank cards with scenes of Maryland.


SiobhanP Apr 2nd, 2004 12:50 AM

I would avoid food. Even though you think the peanuts from your area are unusual or local they still can get nuts where they live.

Elina - the glass you mentioned is called Depression Glass and now are rare collectables. My mother collects this glass as well. Its quite a thoughtful gift and a bit of history as they were given out during the time of the depression in the U.S. either in fairs or with coupons...maybe someone else can elabotate on it.

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