Appropriate thank-you gift in India?
November 27, 2008 6:10 AM   Subscribe

Need a thank-you gift for a comfortably well-off Indian family.

Looking for suggestions for a gift appropriate to give a very nice middle-aged Indian couple who are friends-of-a-friend and did us a quite nice favor recently. They are in Mumbai. I could shop there or somewhere in Rajasthan or in Calcutta (or in Nepal, for that matter).

I'd like something domestically-themed but a bit sophisticated perhaps. They are extremely well-educated and worldly. All suggestions welcome--please let me know WHY you think your idea is an appropriate thank-you gift.
posted by Mngo to Shopping (2 answers total)
We buy gifts for our well-off Indian family members back in Chennai and Bangalore.

For the living area:

Fancy pillowcovers for their throw pillows. The person who picks these should have a good eye for how the home is decorated. The nice ones are made of silk or at least look like they're made of silk. These are a good gift because throw pillows are a good way to change up things around the living room without buying new furniture.

Also, rugs. Most homes there have tile floors. Handmade wool rugs are popular way to cover the floor. They may already have enough rugs, but even if they do, they'll figure out a way to use it. A fine rug has a very thick pile (fibers close to each other). Avoid something "dull" (muted earth tones) and pick something regal

Also - plastic table covers. Basically, it's a hassle to clean table cloths and eating on a plain wood table is boring. If you get them a proper, thick clear plastic (.5mm or so) table cover they will be able to enjoy their table cloth design without washing it. I'm sure they probably already have plastic covers, but from what I recall, the plastic was thinner and didn't have the clarity they wanted. You may not find this quality of plastic table cover in India.

So then get a table cloth. These are domestic and well appreciated decorating items.

For the kitchen: Too bad you're shopping in India. If you want to ship something, go shop at places like Bed Bath and Beyond and Linen & Things go over very well in India. Mostly the handy things you don't find easily there. One example is a potato peeler (people use knives, but a peeler is convenient). Durable plastic tools like these are appreciated by housewives and/or the servants that do their work (but the servants tend to break tools).

In the end, it comes down to seeing how they live their lives and finding small, relatively inexpensive ways to improve it. India is progressing and you can "get everything" in India, but not necessarily at a good price or conveniently.
posted by abdulf at 7:05 AM on November 27, 2008 [1 favorite]

Thanks, abdulf. For various reasons (partly because of the amount of tea that we drank in their house) we settled on an elephant-shaped tea cozy that is a staple souvenir from Nepal, and a couple of other small items.
posted by Mngo at 12:30 AM on December 21, 2008

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