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a VirtualTourist member from Franklin asked on Aug 7, 2012

World

Need gift ideas for home stay

I will be traveling to Romania in the next few weeks on a guided tour, and there are two nights we will be staying with a local family in their home (in lieu of a hotel). I would like to bring a gift for the family, but am completely drawing a blank - any ideas? I live in Nashville, Tennessee - I was thinking Goo Goo Clusters (a locally-made candy), but not sure chocolate would travel well...

Your advice is appreciated. It was so much easier when I lived in New Orleans - pralines, beads and Mardi Gras masks! :-)



44 Answers  (showing 1 - 30)


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answered on 8/7/12 by
a VT member from Puerto Princesa

Several similar questions have appeared on the forum and i always suggest a pictorial book of where you reside, perhaps Tennessee or USA, or even your own town.




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answered on 8/7/12 by
a VT member from Naperville

Why not a music selection of Nashville music?




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answered on 8/7/12 by
a VT member from Newark upon Trent

Chocolate does not travel well. A pictorial book or a music selection, perhaps. If this family is part of a guided tour, then it is likely they have already hosted other families. I suspect that they rely on these tours as a form of income, so are not likely to be over-whelmed with possessions, so a picture book may not be the most practical and they may not have anything on which to play music. Time is probably short but could you make up a photo album of you and your family, your house, your pets, your neighbourhood, school, etc. to take? This would be a good momento to leave them. Just random thoughts - a tea towel(s), apron, etc. with a Nashville theme. Any local ceramics, etc.? However, I think you are wanting to take an all-encompassing present for the family rather than individual ones aimed at specific members of the family? Does Nashville do any sort of special cookie? That would travel better.




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answered on 8/7/12 by
a VT member from Brussels

Excellent suggestion, Rich!




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answered on 8/8/12 by
a VT member from Tunbridge Wells

Yes, I'd go for a selection of CDs ---they're light, entertaining (hopefully) and say something about some of your local culture.

Chocolate or sweets/candy...European tastes are not always the same as American---for better and for worst, before anyone starts a cultural/cuisine war!




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answered on 8/8/12 by
a VT member from Puerto Princesa

i am not so sure about cds as Tennessee has a lot of country music, so it depends what type of music the Romanians like. For instance if someone gave me a CD i would probably pass it on to a 3rd party as my interest in music is limited mainly to 60s and 70s rock!




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answered on 8/8/12 by
a VT member from Kuala Lumpur

I have found that chocolates travel well, even to Malaysia (e.g. I always bring back Godiva from the US!), in my checked baggage and then put them in the fridge as soon as I get there! So, if you have access to a fridge in your room while travelling, by all means.. However, I suspect chocolates are a European thing and, so, might not be as well appreciated as something more representative of the country you come from (in my case I always bring Royal Selangor Pewter pieces with me when I travel abroad, to return expected/unexpected hospitality).

> I suspect that they rely on these tours as a form of income,

In such a case I would place some money in an 'ang pow' packet to give them when I leave! ;-) Since the cash would certainly come in handy esp if they are already overwhelmed with gifts?!




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answered on 8/8/12 by
a VT member from Kuala Lumpur

> I would like to bring a gift for the family,

I must commend you on your thoughtfulness! Nice! :-)




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answered on 8/8/12 by
a VT member from Marietta

How about some Tennessee whiskey? A pint bottle would fit nicely in a sock (to keep from breaking)




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answered on 8/8/12 by
a VT member from Park City

At you local book store, you should be able to find a book about your area. Often times table top books are great gifts.




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answered on 8/8/12 by
a VT member from Franklin

Thanks everyone - you really helped kick-start my brain with some ideas. I really like the idea of the coffee table book about Nashville - I might even bring a Southern cookbook. Since the home stay is part of the tour, the family is being financially compensated by the tour company; I just thought it would be nice to share our culture with the family.

Can I just say - this is one of the reasons I love being on VT. You all are WONDERFUL! :-)




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answered on 8/8/12 by
a VT member from Brussels

Hi
Just a couple of comments on books as gifts.
Firstly, I don't know how you travel, but if you have a limited luggage allowance, coffee table books are heavy and fairly bulky, so take that into account.
Also we've been on the receiving end of several of these over the years, and frankly, they're not very interesting for the recipient who has no connection to the place and its tourist attractions. As an extreme example, people who live in the suburbs of London or NYC probably hardly see the Tower of London or the Empire State Building themselves from year to year, so bringing a coffee table book of their 'home town' doesn't actually bear much relation to their everyday lives. What is far more interesting is to have an insider's view of what it's like to live in that place, so a photo album (hard copy or 'virtual')documenting your daily life is likely to generate a lot more excitement. Photos of where you work, where you do your grocery shopping, what your house looks like provide a point of engagement, provided that you take the time to explain its relevance. After all, you're in their home to experience how they live, so it would be nice to reciprocate.
A cookery book can be an excellent gift, and something that I'd personally love, but obviously will only appeal to those who like to cook. However, for it to be useful, you'll need to be sure that your host is functional in reading English (not always the same as speaking it). Also bear in mind that American cookery books usually work on a 'volume' system (a cup of this, a stick of butter) and this won't mean much to Europeans who work on a metric weight system.
Hope this helps.
Regards
Cathy




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answered on 8/8/12 by
a VT member from Newark upon Trent

I do so agree, Cathy! I was going to mention the coffee book angle but thought I would be shot down in flames for being ungrateful. We have, over the years, received quite a few books of the coffee table variety of people's home towns and/or countries - I have found them mildly interesting ONCE and then they have been put away in the attic, then the next stop is a charity shop. We have photographs of our visitors, which are souvenirs of their visit. Cookery books, as is said, are only interesting for those who 'cook' - you have to be sure the grasp of English is adequate, they know what the measurement equivalents are and most important, if they can find the ingredients. I feel gifts should be something practical or disposable, so chocolates (although I disagree with the poster who said they travel well) or cookies or something like that is probably the most satisfactory. Cookies or other food in a tin (with possibly something Nashville on it) gives a container to be used once the contents have been eaten. Shortbread is always a popular gift but that is something we have here and you don't have there!!




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answered on 8/8/12 by
a VT member from Brussels

I also think that the suggestion of the Tennessee whiskey was also an excellent one - seldom do bottles of booze go unappreciated, except when you're visiting teetotallers (which is probably unlikely in Romania)!




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answered on 8/8/12 by
a VT member from Newark upon Trent

Yes, good idea, although be prepared for it not to be shared - or for it to be consumed all in one go! We have sent, via friends, bottles of hooch to Russia and it has been so treasured that it has been kept, in pride of place, for years!! When it has been consumed, a very good evening was had by all.




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answered on 8/9/12 by
a VT member from Marietta

LMAO Catherine! I need to meet some Romanians!




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answered on 8/9/12 by
a VT member from Tunbridge Wells

I like the whiskey idea too...mmm...

However, the poster did say that it was a family...

Do we have any ideas for the children? Although I haven't been to Romania, I have travelled to Bulgaria and Sochi in Russia ----both on the Black Sea: both had American and British chocolate and sweets/candy. I like to take photos of what is sold in shops abroad!

How about something linked with the folk lore of your 'local' Indians?




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answered on 8/9/12 by
a VT member from Brussels

I have yet to meet kids (and adults) who don't enjoy sampling a selection of sweets (candy) from another country. Usually I just grab a few of those packs of sweets designed for kids' birthday parties (fun sized packs of Mars Bars, for example) and then divide them into the requisite number of bags. It's good if you can try and find types/brands that aren't internationally available, which is where the Goo Goo clusters sound interesting. For example, M&Ms are now pretty universal as a brand, whereas Reece's Pieces are distinctly North American (and therefore more exotic).
If you're transporting chocolate, just bear in mind that it was in the early 40sC in parts of Romania this week, so you'll have to make a plan to store items that melt easily if you're not going to dispense them as soon as you arrive.




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answered on 8/9/12 by
a VT member from Marietta

1 non-chocolate choice might be Harry Potter jelly beans----surely that has been seen in Romania and the kids might go crazy! and less melting...




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answered on 8/9/12 by
a VT member from Brussels

Yes, jelly beans travel very well indeed.




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answered on 8/9/12 by
a VT member from South Africa

Hi there! First of all...have a great trip to Romania...enjoy it as much as possible and keep your mindset open...try to see just the positives of it and you'll have a great time. Regarding gifts, if this family you will be staying with lives in the country side...then like one of the previous members suggested, leave some money with them when you leave. Romanians are very hospitable people and will go out of their way to make sure you are feeling like royalty and for sure what they do is part of their income so even if you take the wife to the local market and see what she needs for her cooking and then you pay for it, it will be something special. They might say no, no but most of the time its a huge assistance. If you see they are managing well by themselves and they don't necessarily need that help then anything small will be appreciated by them. I guess for them is just important to see that you are relaxed, you respect their traditions, admire their home and you socialize with them and aren't afraid to taste some of their local cooking which believe me is DELICIOUS! If you can...try learn a few basic lines in Romanian...such as hello, thank you, see you later...it means a lot and puts smiles on their faces.




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answered on 8/9/12 by
a VT member from Puerto Princesa

I am against bringing alcohol or confectionery as it will be gone in a few days, better the book or similar so they can keep this for years so they will remember you.




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answered on 8/9/12 by
a VT member from Newark upon Trent

This family is being paid for the homestay, doubtless one of a few they will host. Why leave money? It is insulting. However, going to the market and buying the groceries, if you can do it discretely, isn't a bad idea but they may already have bought everything and may also be paid additional to buy the necessary supplies. We know nothing about this family, whether it is a couple or what approximate age, or a couple with children and if so, the ages and etc., etc., etc. The gift would depend on the make-up of the group. Best thing to do is ask the tour company at least for details of the host family.




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answered on 8/10/12 by
a VT member from South Africa

@Hawkhead: Your right and your suggestion is good too. I don't think they will take money as a insulting gesture. I think if done in a discrete manner it will actually be welcomed. With the economy in Romania as is and with the cost of food and products and a huge unemployment rate, money i think will never be denied. Place it in a envelope and give it to them and just say thank you like you mean it (which i hope you do). When you have plenty of money and someone would like to give you some as gesture, perhaps to you it may come over as insulting or charity...but to them it won't. Its obviously something they do to make a living...by hosting tourists...so why not give a little extra? you get your bonus at the end of the year...let them have a bit of extra too...why not? We all could use extra and hell..if you ever complain about getting too much....pass whatever extra's this way lol!




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answered on 8/10/12 by
a VT member from South Africa

Oops...posted twice....my apologies!




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answered on 8/10/12 by
a VT member from Newark upon Trent

I suppose for "you" you don't mean "me" (Hawkhead) but my point still stands - it is insulting. You are missing the aspect of 'pride'. There are many ways of showing appreciation and giving money, no matter how discretely, is not one of them. Giving money also sets a precedent that undermines the intention of the home stay....... but then, if one is comfortable giving money, or the conscience feels the need to do it, go ahead. It will not necessarily make the donor better thought of. I still maintain that the family is already being paid, so there is no need or requirement to give anything extra. A small gift will suffice.




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answered on 8/10/12 by
a VT member from South Africa

@Hawkhead: Nah bine...(ok). :-) Wasn't an attack or anything...you..me....just typing as i think....anyway :-)




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answered on 8/10/12 by
a VT member from Kuala Lumpur

> don't think they will take money as a insulting gesture. I think if done in a discrete manner it will actually be welcomed.

I absolutely agree with you! Imho it will be much appreciated and more useful to a family that needs money more than a gift (which they might not even like/might actually find useless)!

For the benefit of those who are not aware, it is the custom in MY to give money (placed in an 'ang pow' or a nice envelope with a card) for weddings and festivities etc!

In fact our banks in issue crisp new MYR notes for this purpose e.g the new MYR 1,5, 10, 20 and 100 notes currently available from the banks as of two days ago, for Eid! ;-) The MYR50 notes (= bills in USA) in circulatiopn are already in the newly minted version, otherwise they would be reissued, too!

I hope this clears the air on this? ;-)




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answered on 8/10/12 by
a VT member from Kuala Lumpur

> you get your bonus at the end of the year...let them have a bit of extra too...why not?

Exactly what I did since we all got half month bonuses for Eid (irrespective of whether we celebrate it or not), so I gave my cleaning lady a half month bonus, too, and MYR50 to each of the security personnel in my condo who look after my place, so well, esp while I was away in Canada last year! :-)

It can also be considered like a tip for services rended! :-) Which is a common thing in the USA! ;-) Like when you leave a tip for the chamber maid.. Like when I left CAD100 for the U cleaners when I left CA - they didn't complain! In fact I got feedback from the U accommodation services that it was much appreciated! :-)




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