Thank-you gift for my cousin?
June 4, 2009 10:47 AM   Subscribe

I need help coming up with a good thank-you gift for my (female, early 30s) cousin at the end of a 3-week visit.

I've been staying with my cousin in London for about 3 weeks, and would like to get her something meaningful to say thank you. But to get to the point: I don't know her very well (I grew up in the US, she in the UK); despite being exactly the same age we are entirely dissimilar in personality/likes/interests; she is currently on a diet so food is out (including taking her out for a meal); she doesn't drink, so alcohol is out; and she's already got every household tchotchke thing (candles, bath/beauty products, picture frames, etc.) I can think of. Oh, and she works in the entertainment industry so things like "here are tickets to X" are entirely redundant. What's more, she works fairly long hours and spends each weekend out of town in order to take care of a relative, so her schedule can be tricky.

So based on what I know, she likes: relaxing with tv/movies; spa weekends; her family's dogs; trashy magazines (her description); hanging out with her godson; mystery novels and chick lit. She doesn't like: running or other exercise for its own sake; art, especially of the modern and contemporary varieties; crafty stuff; jigsaw puzzles.

To top it all off, she's far, far wealthier than I am, so I'd rather get something that demonstrates some imagination than something that just says "here's a random luxury item" -- because we're in different enough financial brackets that it would probably come across as "here's something kinda tacky." Plus, she's the kind of person who just buys whatever it is she wants -- so she already has all the latest DVDs, etc.

And for those of you who want to suggest donating to charity in her name/honor -- I've sponsored her in the Race for Life this weekend, but want to do something that's actually for *her*, since she's been doing so much to make my stay here fun.
posted by obliquicity to Human Relations (16 answers total)
How about a jump drive with a lot of photos (personal, trip, others of interest). It might take awhile to put together.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 11:08 AM on June 4, 2009

What's more, she works fairly long hours and spends each weekend out of town in order to take care of a relative.

Why don't you cook a special meal consistent with her diet to enjoy together at the end of one of those long workdays?

Can you care for the relative for a day so she can have a day off?

How about some chores, errands or cleaning for her? Sounds like she has very little free time, so that might be appreciated?
posted by bunnycup at 11:08 AM on June 4, 2009

she's been doing so much to make my stay here fun

What, specifically, has she done to make your stay fun? Did she take you to the zoo? Get her a handmade, recycled elephant poop card from the gift shop and write her a note telling her how much you appreciate her. Did she take you on a spa weekend? Wait till you get back home and send her some bath stuff from a local artisan (I know you said she has bath stuff, but it gets used up, and she sure doesn't have any from that really great local place you love). Something small, but meaningful (i.e. related to the three weeks you spent together) seems the best bet.
posted by arcticwoman at 11:11 AM on June 4, 2009

What about a lovely flower arrangement or plant, combined with a handwritten note of thanks? You could also follow up after you get home with a gift of a photo or two of your trip (maybe the two of you together?) in a nice frame.

I think you may be putting a little too much pressure on yourself to come up with some incredibly imaginative, unique gift (a task that seems to be additionally complicated due to the intersection of her particular preferences, restrictions, and wealth). Because a warm, sincere, gracious gesture of thanks -- even something as seemingly old-fashioned as a handwritten note and some flowers -- is itself genuinely meaningful.
posted by scody at 11:12 AM on June 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

I know you said her family's dogs, so I'm guessing the dogs don't live with her so I don't know if this would work, but how about baking some doggie biscuits, and you could get a nice container (maybe from Etsy ?) to put them in, and attach a cute recipe card along with a handwritten thank you note?
posted by KAS at 11:13 AM on June 4, 2009

What about a detailed heartfelt thank-you letter? Either handwritten or typed and printed out on nice paper of some sort. Start from the beginning of your trip, saying how nervous you were on the flight over (or how excited you were, you could hardly stay still, whatever applies). Your first impressions upon landing in England. How much fun you had when she took you to X, Y and Z, and you'll never forget when A happened on the Tube, and that cab ride on the way to B. Sort of a trip "diary" in the form of a thank you letter. I think she'd get a kick out of seeing what an impression she made on you during these three weeks, and how you'll never forget her or her hospitality.
posted by Oriole Adams at 11:36 AM on June 4, 2009

I agree with the ideas of a gift basket of some kind, especially along the ideas of relaxing, and maybe a gift certificate for a pedicure or manicure in there (as she likes spa weekends) that she can use as her schedule allows.
posted by questionsandanchors at 11:36 AM on June 4, 2009

Nthing the idea of a post-return-to-the-US gift. Definitely try to do something nice for her while you're there (like bunnycup suggested, a chore or task you can cross off her list) but after you get home send a nice letter expressing your gratitude, along with a token gift. "I was walking along Main Street the other day and I saw this adorable hat and thought of you. I wanted to thank you for everything you've done..." Most people are polite enough to say "thank you" when they leave at the end of a stay. Few people are considerate enough to send a letter and gift weeks later. It will mean something to her, even if she already has 3 dozen hats just like it.
posted by philotes at 11:41 AM on June 4, 2009

Charm bracelet with a couple of charms that have some meaning related to your time vwith her?

Buy pretty, unusual vase; fill with flowers?

An art book, with an inscription?

Don't forget about her when you get home; send cards on birthdays, emails, whatever, so she knows you like her and think of her and didn't just use her place as a gratis hotel.
posted by palliser at 12:53 PM on June 4, 2009

agree with palliser:
pretty vase, fill with nice flowers, write heartfelt thank you note.

That's good enough. If you have a picture of the two of you, a nice frame with that photo would be a nice addition too, or that could be instead of the flowers. No need for "just perfect" gift that will wow her. Being thoughtful and thankful is all that is needed here.
posted by tk at 1:52 PM on June 4, 2009

It's funny, in all the other "thank you" threads I agree with the note people -- but when it comes to this, I think thank you letters are so entirely expected in my family that it's just not enough. I like the idea of a post-return gift in combination with the thank-you note, though, that gives me a lot more leeway.

And, I'm not sure a good photo of the two of us exists (even though I'm over all the time, relatively speaking, this is the first time I've stayed with her rather than other family members), so I like that idea, too -- I'll try to make it happen.

And of course, I've been doing the helpful-chore thing as much as possible throughout -- but in keeping with her lifestyle (which, to be honest, I could get used to... sigh), she has people who do most of those sorts of things for her (!).
posted by obliquicity at 3:37 PM on June 4, 2009

Flowers. Always wins.
posted by radioamy at 4:04 PM on June 4, 2009

Maybe a subscription to one of the UK netflix-type services, if she doesn't already have one?
posted by clerestory at 4:40 PM on June 4, 2009

A massage therapist that does in-home calls. If she likes spas, that would probably be really nice after a long day at work.
posted by stray thoughts at 5:30 PM on June 4, 2009

I like the idea of a post-return gift in combination with the thank-you note, though, that gives me a lot more leeway.

The one drawback to the post-return gift is that she might think you just left without making a gesture of thanks -- I'd do a little bouquet with the thank-you note, then the post-return gift.

Best-received thank-you-host gift I ever sent (for dinner at an out-of-town friend's house) was a Terrible Towel. Local color + a little tongue-in-cheek = good feelings.
posted by palliser at 8:45 PM on June 4, 2009

Send flowers. It may not be creative, but fresh flowers are so nice to have in the house. There's a reason giving flowers became a tradition.
posted by theora55 at 7:59 AM on June 5, 2009

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