little gifts for visitors

Hi guys and girls,

Good day. I’ve been doing some international business traveling the last couple of years and there’s something that bothers me… most of my international clients give me little gifts whenever I visit them and/or when I leave them. This is very sweet, and I always feel special that they thought so much of me.

So why does it bother me? Well… I’m historically a poor gift-giver, even with my friends and family. Not that I’m stingy with my resources, I just don’t know WHAT to give. And it is with this in mind that I write this post. I’d like to have little gifts for my clients when I travel (or when they visit me here). I’m trying to think of something that’s “American”, but I’m coming up blank. I guess it’s difficult for me to see anything “interestingly” American when I’m swimming in a sea of Americana on a daily basis.

Anyway, I’m hoping you have some good ideas. Well, I know you folks have good ideas, this is the SDMB, and I’m hoping you’ll share them.



Where do you live?

Here’s an article with some suggestions.

I like the idea of giving locally made chocolate or candy, since nearly everyone enjoys sweets. Pens or notepads are also useful.

Abortions for some, miniature American flags for others!


I’m in NC.

Abortions… you crack me up! Probably hard to get a supply of those, and they probably don’t travel well. Can you imagine declaring them at Indonesian customs?

Okay, I’m trying to come up with helpful suggestions now, and it’s tough. I’m assuming you want something that evokes North Carolina, and won’t offend Muslims. So, booze, BBQ, shellfish, all out.

Cigars perhaps? Wood boxes, Cross-type pens?

I grew up in Taiwan, and it was common to never actually unwrap the gifts - businessmen would get a nicely wrapped present and put it in the closet, until they needed to give a gift. One of my acquaintances made a point of giving perishable items and pointing that out. But I digress.

My husband once had a Japanese client bring him a *box *of sake.

I used to do a lot of business in Asia, and as I remember gift giving was a big thing in Japan and Korea. I would smile and accept whatever was given to me, usually a calendar with the company’s logo on it or a fancy ball point pen, but I rarely recipricated.

If they came to visit me in the US I would always take them to dinner which in my mind more than made up for the token they provided me. On rare occasions I even invited them to my home for a home cooked meal, which was a big deal for them since they didn’t expect to visit an American’s home.

I occasionally brought an expensive bottle of whisky with me if I knew I would be meeting with the CEO or VP, but usually I didn’t bring anything and they didn’t seem to expect me to bring them anything. I think it is a cultural thing that they feel obligated to do, but I don’t think they expect us to return the favor.

Locally-made, certainly. Don’t worry about representing America, or even representing NC, just that it comes from your locality and that they wouldn’t otherwise encounter it. (Bear in mind the banal Best Western groundhog day they probably suffer when visiting America!)

My daughter will be going to Japan for an exchange program this summer. The students were told that they should bring a small gift for their host families. They were told that the favoured gifts were always things that are typically American (pocket change being favoured by the kids, go figure). We plan on finding a few small goodies, such as souvenir-style gifts (maybe pick up postcards from Walt Disney World when we go there in a couple weeks, TN branded stuff like pencils, etc) and putting them in American flag themed basket boxes (my company sells them, and since they pack flat, they will be easy for her to assemble once she gets there), with red, white and blue ribbon. That is probably a little corny for businessmen/women, though, so I would recommend something like locally made chocolates (local to you, of course), or stuff like you might find at a Cracker Barrel. It’s a fun gift that allows them to enjoy an American treat.

I’m sure someone, somewhere (or more relevantly, in NC) sells small, like 2 oz, bottles of BBQ sauce. That might be a cute gift for someone not from the area.

Also, I bet you could find something small that is related to Kitty Hawk. I think there is some sort of Wright Brothers Memorial, I wonder if they have a gift shop? Their first plane is a pretty iconic image of both NC and the US.

The postcards and Wright brothers suggestions are getting somewhere - perhaps instead aim for a place of local significance, historical or otherwise, that they’ve probably never heard of, but which would pique their interest. Put it this way: if they look it up on Wikipedia when they get back to the office, you’ve judged it right.

Not exactly what everyone thinks of when they hear “North Carolina,” but what about small bottles of genuine maple syrup? From what I understand, it’s uniquely North American – and delicious!

I’m also in NC, and something I sometimes give out are Moravian cookies–unique and tasty!

How about an uncirculated state coin (Wright Brothers)? Or a Fisher Space pen?

Contact the North Caroline (NC is North Carolina isn’t it?) Tourist Bureau or whatever the organisation is called. They will often have free stuff promoting tourism in your state. I think of lapel pins, state flags coffee cups, mouse pads and the like. Frequently it’s free because it’s promotional material. I used to get lapel pens shaped like Queensland from the Queensland Tourist Bureau when travelling to Japan, Indonesia and Thailand on business. I would put the pin on cotton wool in a small box and wrap it in gift paper. Always went down a treat. And they were free.