Wine for money!
April 23, 2009 9:45 AM   Subscribe

University-etiquette filter: I received a great grant and would like to thank the professors who helped me through the rigorous application process. Is a good bottle of wine a proper choice?

This is at the PhD level, in Canada. The grant is provincial, and will make a huge difference in my studies. I just don't want the gift to seem too personal or what not. I know the professors well, just not much outside of academic life. Anounymous because it is such a small world.
posted by anonymous to Education (10 answers total)
It's a proper choice if the prof likes to drink wine. It would a horrible choice if the prof is a recovering alcoholic. You should have some basic idea if the prof likes coffee, chocolate, wine, pies, or whatever. Any of those could be a good generic gift providing they enjoy those things.
posted by JJ86 at 9:58 AM on April 23, 2009

How about a basket? I did this for a prof who made the phone call that basically got me into graduate school. I thought the selection was a better way to go than just one item which they may not like. It was a small basket that had jams, crackers, chocolates, pate, olives, etc. in it. I steered clear of the wine. It felt like I had made a bigger effort than just going to the wine store and picking something.
posted by meerkatty at 10:03 AM on April 23, 2009

How about a good fountain pen, or some other vaguely work-related (yet personal) gift?
posted by gene_machine at 10:20 AM on April 23, 2009

A really nice bottle of wine(with a decent price tag around $50?) for a wine connoisseur would be a good idea but a bottle of wine is what you get when you're invited to a dinner party.

As jj86 said, go off on what the prof likes. I like to get mont blanc for professional contacts, or try to locate first edition of their favorite books or a book signed by the author.

You should go see the prof to talk a bit to learn about his/her personal life. I've given a great travel guide in countries and regions that they like to visit, make sure it's not a place that they're familiar with (i.e. they studied there for a year so already know the region well).

I like to bake and am pretty good, so I've made stuff for some people too.
posted by icollectpurses at 10:28 AM on April 23, 2009

Baked goods as icollectpurses suggests sound great.

I try to give professors little gifts based on what I know they like. Successful gifts have included chocolate covered coffee beans, crafts, plants and cookies. Surprisingly, the most successful has been Wacky Packs. (I had no idea my professor had collected them as a kid.) In general, the more (tactfully) personal the better.
posted by ladypants at 10:40 AM on April 23, 2009

Any of these ideas sound great. Any gift shows that you have recognized the effort the professor put in, and are grateful. You want something nice, but not outrageously expensive -- that would be weird.

I'm a professor, and I've received wine many times. Also cookies, candy, just a card. I once received a big bunch of flowers, which I thought was a little odd (perhaps because I'm a youngish female), and once an expensive scarf. That last would have been excessive, if it weren't for the fact that it was from a retired auditor that I knew to be (and he knew I knew to be) wealthy.

Congratulations on your grant!
posted by kestrel251 at 10:52 AM on April 23, 2009

Ditto. I've had students give me wine, very good whiskey (I'm somewhat out about being a connoisseur -- best ever was the bottle of Johnnie Walker blue label from a student who got into law school).

But the best present I *ever* got from a student was a bag of 100 frozen tamales home-made by his (Apache, New Mexican) mother and hand carried from home on a flight. I ate tamales for a year from that bag. The kid (who also got into law school) went on to great things, too.
posted by fourcheesemac at 11:36 AM on April 23, 2009

Modulo the recovering alcoholic thing, wine is always fine -- polite gifts don't get any more traditional, and if they don't like it, they can always regift.

Reasons in favor of wine:
- It's consumable -- it doesn't stick around cluttering things up like some (possibly viewed as tacky) engraved pen.
- It's fungible -- re-giftable, as noted.
- It's easy to find good quality -- unlike baked goods, which could suck.
posted by paultopia at 4:16 PM on April 23, 2009

No gifts necessary, IMO. I'm a professor who feels weird when students don't understanding that helping them with these things is part of our job.

I'd like the tamales though, having not had decent Mexican food in ages.
posted by vincele at 7:37 PM on April 23, 2009

Why not suggest taking them out for lunch, or maybe coffee? Then you could celebrate together while talking about your studies, future plans and life in general. I don't think you could go wrong if you tucked a bookstore gift card inside a personal thank you note. I teach at a university, and I'd feel a little awkward if a cash-strapped grad student gave me more than that.
posted by woodway at 5:07 AM on April 24, 2009

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