Sunday, November 16, 2008

Making a List, Checking It Twice

Yes, I know it's not even Thanksgiving yet but we're heading back to the States in December for a visit and I'm trying to get organized now so I won't feel too crazy later. I've been on the lookout for small gifts to take to friends and family back home. Plus I'm also thinking about what I should buy there that's quintessentially American to bring back for hostess and teacher gifts for folks here in France. Suggestions from either camp? What's the perfect gift from Paris? And what are the French and expats living in France dying to have from the U.S.? We're talking reasonable here, no cases of champagne or couture, folks. Let's hear what you think.

10 comments:

Isabelle said...

Boxes of assorted chocolates are always a big hit with my family in law. Corné Port Royal is a very good brand:
http://www.corne-port-royal.be/

Also: caramels au beurre salé, nougats, caliçons...

Alcohols like Grand Marnier, cognac, pommeau, calvados...

And everything with a provençal touch like olive oil or lavender soaps etc.

Roxanne said...

You're going to think these are crazy suggestions. However...

I lived in France for a year from 1985-1986 and until I went back in 2007, I seriously surfed the Internet trying to find a way to get Savora mustard here in the States. It is impossible. I brought two bottles back with me in 2007 and my 17 year old daughter LOVES IT! When we use it, she doles it out like rations and says, "We have to make this last until we go to France this spring."

My second suggestion is to bring some of the hearts, stars and flowers shaped sugar morsels (not really "sugar cubes") that you have in France. We are stuck with boring cubes here in the U.S. and I thought the assorted-shaped onces were so cute my last visit. I have been sorry that I didn't bring any back with me.

Starman said...

I think the quintessential Paris gift is the Tour Eiffel keychain. Nothing says "Paris" like the Tour Eiffel and it's not going to be consumed and forgotten like something edible. Plus, it's very inexpensive but shows that you thought to bring something.

La Mom said...

I always stock up on French-milled soaps in hard-to-find scents like Lily of the Valley to bring back to friends and family. You can get them at most pharmacies.

As for what I get people to bring me, the only thing I really miss is Arm & Hammer Baking Soda Toothpaste, which I can't live without!

Must write a letter to Santa so I can get some toothpaste in my stocking...

Anne said...

Keep those ideas are coming. (If you expect to receive a gift from me, just avert your eyes.) And some more ideas on things to bring back. I get the toothpaste thing but cannot see doling out tubes as a hostess gift!

Polly-Vous Francais said...

I usually go to the basement of BHV to get presents. Corkscrews made from grapevine, house numbers, signs, etc.

And the boutique at the Assemblee Nationale has great stuff like oven mitts that say Droit and Gauche. Witty.

For gifts from US to France: although they're heavy, I usually try to get attractively-scented candles (like Mrs. Meyers' etc.) because they are SO expensive in France.

My houseguests were so seal-trained to bring me boxes of RedRose tea that now I'm overflowing with teabags...

Meg said...

I love little things like stationery, notepads, pens & Pencils (but I write, so my paper treasure may be another woman's trash) tea towels, hankies, old-looking books (little slim ones for decorating) and anything that I would use everyday but in French like pot holders, coasters, pretty playing cards, soaps, etc.

I've learned who to hit up for champagne (the fellas) and who to request a notebook from (friends/family) and am happy with either.

From the US; candy (esp. regional treats), lots of requests for chocolate-peanut butter concoctions (Lindt PB truffles, buckeyes, etc, not Reese's) and if it's around a Holiday, then something very typically American.

Anne said...

Thanks all. I particularly like the oven mitts and have a few friends in DC who would definitely get a kick out of those!

misplaced texan said...

I like the idea of bringing back small, but fancy bottles of eau de vie, calvadoes or pommeau (Isabelle mentioned this too). I think I'll also be taking fois gras and chocolate, this year. Because their easy to carry and not crazy expensive, I always pack a few extra scarves to give as impromptu gifts (and for my one scarf-obsessed friend).

I haven't brought too many gifts back from the States that weren't food related. I like going to Cracker Barrel, or other typically-American/southern shops to bring back kitschy, but yummy gifts like peanut brittle, pecan logs and flavored syrups. Uniquely-shaped cookie cutters might be a cute thing to give, too, since you don't see many of those around here.

An Ex-ExPat said...

HI, I lived in France and the very best gifts that I brought back were scarves, mustard, and soap. As a student I had to be frugal as well as thoughtful. Women LOVE being able to say that their scarf is from PARIS, really - how can that not be a winner? Jars of mustard are always a hit with the men folk or BBQ herbes de provence, and soap...same a scarves; a cheaper brand from ED had the same allure as some fancy French brand that no one stateside could recognize.
And things I would take back? Since our home was/is in Southern California, I would take back anything Mexican (food, linens etc).
Best of luck!

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