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August 5, 2011 11:46 PM   Subscribe

Help me find a good, cheap, interesting birthday/housewarming gift for a great person!

One of my best friends is leaving for grad school in LA in 3 weeks, after spending a year teaching at an international space camp overseas. Her birthday is a week before she leaves. I want to get her a good little gift for a birthday/farewell/congratulations/housewarming thing!

She is a world history buff (especially Middle Eastern history), religious studies person, and she's into history, space exploration, art, beer, and food. Young woman, single, moving into a new place by herself all the way across the country. I'm thinking an amusing but useable housewarming type gift. I know she likes a lot of the housewares type stuff on sites like Urban Outfitters and the like, and that also reflects the price range: I'd like to spend under $30, but still get something she'll like and use.

Any ideas, hive?
posted by broadway bill to Shopping (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
this might sound lame, but I'd give her a large box of super delicious brownies.
posted by saraindc at 12:56 AM on August 6, 2011

homemade, of course
posted by saraindc at 12:57 AM on August 6, 2011

Does she not have the standard apartment stuff already, and will she have room to transport this item to the new place? If so, I'd say almost anything house-y would work wonderfully. A few specifics:

-Penzey's box of spices -- either a basic set if she wouldn't have any, or maybe a create your own focusing on their awesome Middle Eastern seasonings like zatar and their Turkish seasoning.
-Something framed for the wall -- maybe a cool old map?
-A cooking item (pot, pan, etc.) and a recipe you like to make with that item
-If she wears jewelery but doesn't have good storage, something like an earring tree or jewelery stand might be nice -- Urban Outfitters had some neat designs the last time I checked.
posted by pie ninja at 4:01 AM on August 6, 2011

I thought of gifting her a FOTO membership for Griffith Observatory, but the lowest is Planet and costs $45. I imagine friends-of programs for LA history museums would probably run about the same. But the idea of something specific to LA seems right. A city guide tailored to her interests? Is there such a thing? I've heard of someone giving a friend a public transport credit - though that's a very utilitarian present.

So hard to think of housewares when I don't know her taste or what she might need. It'd have to be something small for convenience's sake. It's sounding like gift-card time...
posted by likeso at 4:05 AM on August 6, 2011

A bottle of wine, a jar of great olives, and nice napkins? The napkins could be a pair of cloth or a package of paper, and a celestial design in either variety shouldn't be hard to find.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:56 AM on August 6, 2011

I think you should get her an intangible gift unless you can ship it to her new address because when I am moving the last thing I want is for someone to give me more things to pack.

Since she is going to grad school and will be focused presumably serious stuff most of the time, it might be nice to get her something that is more fun and relaxing like a subscription to a trashy magazine or one related to her hobbies (you can buy one issue of it at the newsstand to present her with to show her what you are getting her). Plus then she will be getting mail and a constant reminder of your friendship at her new place.
posted by rmless at 8:19 AM on August 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

How about...
EAT: Los Angeles 2011: The Food Lover's Guide to Los Angeles (I want this myself)

Or if she likes to cook, entertain, or needs to decorate her new place, I'd love if someone gave me a gift card to a place like Crate and Barrel. I know there are stores at the Grove, Beverly Hills, Pasadena.

If she'll be on the westside of LA, a Peets coffee card would be nice.
posted by hellochula at 8:49 PM on August 6, 2011

Two little gadgets that are really useful and a little bit different: a microplane/zester and a cheese planer. You could get both within your budget.
posted by Anitanola at 10:23 PM on August 6, 2011

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