What is a polite gift for Americans visiting Parisian couple for dinner?
August 2, 2009 8:54 PM   Subscribe

What is a proper gift to bring a same-sex Parisian couple when invited to dinner?

My boyfriend and I are visiting Paris next week and were invited to dinner with two Americans who have been living and working Paris for the past few years. Both men are very successful in the business world and live comfortably in the city. We have been invited to dinner at their apartment on our first night in Paris.
posted by tarthur to Human Relations (14 answers total)
I'm surprised the nature of the couple makes a difference; a bottle of wine is always appropriate.
posted by Billegible at 8:56 PM on August 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

Whatever you'd bring to a mix gendered couple, but I believe there was some discussion a while ago as to whether or not you can bring wine to a French dinner party, so maybe flowers or chocolate?
posted by cestmoi15 at 9:01 PM on August 2, 2009

You could bring Berthillon ices from the Ile St. Louis, if you have time before your dinner. They're fantastic.

Flowers are nice, too.

If you're looking for something in the nature of a house present from the US, you could bring a great Kentucky bourbon -- say Maker's Mark. Or something else peculiarly American -- smoked salmon from the Pacific Northwest, Texas habanero beef jerky, Hawaiian red sea salt.

I wouldn't bring wine to rich Americans in Paris; they probably already know what they like.
posted by musofire at 9:02 PM on August 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

For my wine loving friends I usually bring a nice olive oil and/or balsamic vinegar. If they are making you dinner I am assuming they like to cook and good olive oils and balsamic vinegars will be appreciated. (Unless of course they collect these as well as wines)
posted by troll on a pony at 9:07 PM on August 2, 2009

Don't bring wine (unless you're *really* good at choosing wine). You don't know what they are serving for dinner, so if you were to bring wine it may or may not go with the meal. If you bring flowers, you side step this entirely and don't leave your hosts in an awkward position of feeling obligated to serve your gift.

If you really want to step it up and dinner is going to be served on the weekend (or you know that somebody will be home to accept them), have the flowers delivered before dinner with a note saying that you're looking forward to seeing your friends.
posted by dancinglamb at 9:24 PM on August 2, 2009

I have a relative who worked at the American Cathedral in Paris briefly and she said that chocolates are a good choice.

Apparently wine is a bad idea because it implies that you don't trust them to pick a good wine so if you do go in that direction make sure you say it's for the wine cellar.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 9:30 PM on August 2, 2009

I am appropriately chastised re: wine and second the idea of chocolates.
posted by Billegible at 9:32 PM on August 2, 2009

Previous discussion on whether or not bringing wine would be appropriate, as well as some other gift ideas...
posted by illenion at 9:43 PM on August 2, 2009

Best answer: You are overthinking this plate of beans.

First of all, you will have just got off a plane. Their expectations will not be high. Anything that shows you put thought and effort into thanking them for their hospitality will do. Flowers from a street vendor would be perfectly gracious.

Second of all, if they are ex-pats, you are golden. Bring them one of those bags in which you normall present wine, stuff it with tissue paper, and in it place:

1) One tube of oreos
2) One tube of nutter butters
3) One bag of hershey kisses

It doesn't matter how posh they are. There is something about not having access to the junk food of your country of origin that makes you prize it highly. The very first place I go on US soil - like, in the car on the way from the airport - is Taco Bell.

And I fucking hate Taco Bell.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:57 PM on August 2, 2009 [5 favorites]

Don't bring wine (unless you're *really* good at choosing wine). You don't know what they are serving for dinner, so if you were to bring wine it may or may not go with the meal.

Just because you give a gift to your host, doesn't mean that they are expected to use it immediately, or to share it with you. It is a gift for them. If you gave them a book, would you expect them to read it right in front of you? A bottle of wine is usually appreciated by people who enjoy wine.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 11:14 PM on August 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Bringing an expat something from the US that's hard to get where they live is a nice thought, but better to ask what they like than just bring random junk food. I mean, speaking as an expat myself, if someone brought me oreos, nutter butters, and hershey's kisses, I would probably just toss them all. (I never liked any of those anyway, and besides, I live in Belgium for crying out loud, one thing I DON'T need is crap American chocolate.)

On the other hand, if someone were to bring good bagels, a bottle of bourbon (that wasn't one of the three varieties that are easy to get here), or some Dr. Bronner's Soap, I'd love it. Those are things I really miss.

If they're expats, your hosts doubtless miss stuff from the US, but what they miss depends on who they are. If you're going to go to the trouble of bringing them something American, why not make sure it's something they actually want? Just ask if there's anything they can't get in Paris that you could bring them.
posted by dseaton at 1:49 AM on August 3, 2009

Ditto on the bourbon. Ditto on asking them via e-mail if there are some specific small treats or U.S. items you could pick up for them ahead of time. I once brought a pair of comfortable shoes to a French woman I had never met before after asking her husband ahead of time what I could bring from the U.S.
posted by Elsie at 10:03 AM on August 3, 2009

Where are you from in the States? If there's a local, tasty product that they'd have no chance in heck of finding in the next state, let alone in Paris, perhaps go for that, paired with some lovely flowers or a super-awesome living houseplant, like an orchid.
posted by mdonley at 10:36 AM on August 3, 2009

Response by poster: We are out in California. Since we are planning not to check bags liquids from the states (larger than 3 ounces) won't really work. I think flowers might be a nice idea. Thank you all for all the suggestions.
posted by tarthur at 3:20 PM on August 3, 2009

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