Gift for Sister-in-Law Studying in London for One Month
June 20, 2005 6:05 PM   Subscribe

My sister-in-law-to-be will be in London for one month studying this summer. Any ideas for an appropriate gift as I wish her a fun trip? She's been very helpful as Maid of Honor and just a wonderful friend/sister and I want to get her something. She's a girly-girl from NYC. Thanks.
posted by seinfeld to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (23 answers total)
How about a really cute luggage tag? These ones by Loop are super cute and really useful since they're so distinct. Another idea could be a travel makeup/face care kit, here's one from Sephora that's quite nice.
posted by orangskye at 6:19 PM on June 20, 2005

Oh, I forgot to mention she is 20 years old and probably looking forward to be able to drink while she's there..

And orangeskye, I like your ideas, but I don't think they're quite right.. Definately on-track and I appreciate the thoughts.. any more??

posted by seinfeld at 6:44 PM on June 20, 2005

A pretty umbrella (small enough to to fit in a bag) is always a good option for London =) I'd almost suggest coupling that with some pounds Sterling (you can get them from a bank in the US), and maybe a London A to Z book or another street map (or a guide book, like Lonely Planet, Let's Go, etc).
posted by handful of rain at 7:16 PM on June 20, 2005

Seinfeld, what about them do you like/don't like? That way I can try and think of something more on target.

Are you looking for something London-themed? Travel-y? Or just girly presents in general?
posted by orangskye at 7:52 PM on June 20, 2005

London-themed would definately be nice, but I'm most interested in something that is of practical use. I liked your ideas but they just were not perfect, that's all.

She has all the make-up she needs and a luggage tag was cute (as she would say) but just not quite right.

Thanks again..
posted by seinfeld at 7:54 PM on June 20, 2005 about a travel pillow? These ones come in pretty colours and are really comfortable, which could be nice for the long flight over. I also remember seeing somewhere this great little map that was about the size of a card and folded out to about a page, it had all the major tourist stops on it. I have no idea what it's called but it's out there somewhere....
posted by orangskye at 8:06 PM on June 20, 2005

orangeskye, hah i know youre on the right track b/c she just got one of those pillows !! hah.. it's so difficult thinking of something.. for me anyway.
posted by seinfeld at 8:09 PM on June 20, 2005

Does she have a lovely shawl to take the place of the gross airline blanket?
posted by puddinghead at 8:39 PM on June 20, 2005

unless you know her tastes REALLY well, i would stay away from trying to buy her clothes and such. but you could maybe get her a giftcard for a uk-based clothes store. i lived there for a semester but am blanking on stores that are actually unique to london... i liked topshop a lot, and they have gift card options under "details". that store is MASSIVE and has a ton of different styles so a "girly girl" would be hard pressed not to find something she likes.

the umbrella / travel books ideas are good too. i think let's go is best for the 20-something age group.

oh yeah, harrods. that's another one.
posted by jetskiaccidents at 8:46 PM on June 20, 2005

I have a fake pashmina that has been my best travel companion. It functions as a shawl, pillow, blanket, emergency towel, skirt, and head wrap. Yet it folds flat and fits into almost anything. If it's in your price range a real pashmina or pashmina-silk blend like this might be a good gift. Pashminas are highly functional and come in tons of colors.
posted by Alison at 9:21 PM on June 20, 2005

I'm sure a few of the London MeFites (such as me) would be willing to take her drinking....

The best stores to get gift certificates for would be Topshop or Selfridges. Selfridges is the trendy version of Harrods, with the coolest designers, window displays, promotions, bars/cafés etc (Harrods is kitsch but passé.)
posted by skylar at 10:09 PM on June 20, 2005

The miniature umbrellas I've bought in the states don't really hold up to the wind and rain here. The ones at Marks and Spencer are much better, plus they replace them when they still inevitably break.

I think guide books are an excellent idea. When I moved to the UK my aunt gave me a Dorling Kindersley Eyewitness Guide to London. If you're just looking to see sites, and not looking to find hostels, they're the best. I think Let's Go kinda sucks, and I am in the 20-something crowd. When I go to London I usually also take the Time Out Guide to Cheap Eats in London and the Bensons MapGuide London Visitor's Map.

Another option would be a Travelcard, which is quite handy for getting around town. Not sure a tube/bus pass really makes the best gift though.
posted by grouse at 12:43 AM on June 21, 2005

Following from Grouse's suggestions, all the techno kids are using Oystercards for their London transport payment these days... unless they object to the use of RFID chips, in which case they're probably avoiding them. Time Out is indispensable and the site lets you buy a digital version as well as subscribing to their food and drink guide online.

What about buying her a night in a good hotel, or a meal out in a restaurant, or a day at a spa?
posted by skylar at 1:04 AM on June 21, 2005

Don't know how much you want to spend but she'll be knackered when she gets off the plane so how about a day/halfday at a spa, this one is in Covent Garden (ie central London). Some other pampering possibilities here.
posted by biffa at 3:28 AM on June 21, 2005

Be warned that if you get her a gift card for a London store, the money will go much less far in the UK than it would in the US. Expect UK prices to be anywhere between 20% and 100% more expensive than the US in most things. One of the few exceptions is Clark's, a chain of shoe stores that tends to have a much better quality-to-price ratio than most US stores.

Besides shoes, the other thing that's surprisingly affordable in London is world-class theatre. Perhaps you could get her Theatre Tokens so she can go to a play. The Tokens can be used at most London theatres, and they can be used at the half-priced TKTS booth in Leicester Square.

Perhaps you could accompany the Tokens with a £10 gift card for WH Smith which she could use to buy a copy of Time Out each week so she'll know what's on.

As for guidebooks, my favorite guidebook to London is out of print, but you can buy it used on Amazon: Londonwalks. (I'd recommend it in book format, not audiotape.) Most guidebooks try to be comprehensive and tell you a little bit about everything, but Londonwalks takes the opposite approach: it only focuses on only 5 neighborhoods, but it takes you block by block through them, pointing out fascinating things along the way that an ordinary guidebook would never cover. Every guidebook will take you to Covent Garden--but only Londonwalks will take you a few blocks away to "an unremarkable entry labeled Goodwin's Court. Few Londoners notice it, so Goodwin's Court is still a superbly preserved and almost-secret 18th century street."

Your niece will almost certainly want a more traditional citywide guidebook to accompany it, but trust me: Londonwalks is great.
posted by yankeefog at 4:31 AM on June 21, 2005

The Oyster card is a good idea sklylar, but you can only have it delivered to a UK address. You can, however, purchase certain Travelcards on paper format in advance at

Seinfeld, no suggestions on the pressie side but if you S-I-L would like some advice on the Oyster card or types of London travel tickets you can put her my way (email in profile).
posted by floanna at 4:39 AM on June 21, 2005

I would advise against the travel card unless you know for a fact that she will incur this cost once she arrives. Most study abroad programs (even the summer ones) incorporate a length-of-stay travel card into the cost of the program.

Maybe a functional but stylish bag that will hold her school stuff, though still cute enough to use as a carryall around the city. When I studied in london, someone bought me this type of bag and I loved not having to haul an ugly, awkward backpack around.

I think the gift certificate suggestion is really great. I'm sure her shopping budget will be limited, but she is bound to see lots of styles and cute things that she'd be unable to find in the US. Even if the USD to GBP exchange rate does not work in her favor, who wouldn't enjoy a bit of "mad money" for shopping?
posted by necessitas at 6:46 AM on June 21, 2005

You're all wrong. Speaking as a Londoner, the very best thing a visiting American can have is the "We are not all jerks" tee-shirt from Diesel Sweeties . This will get her smiles, conversation and possibly drinks as well. I've seen it work.
posted by Hogshead at 7:07 AM on June 21, 2005

Wow, lots of responses -- thanks!!

I'm thinking the travelcard may be a great idea as I do not think her program covers the cost of the Tube. I am going to find out before doing anything.

If that's not the way to go, perhaps a gift certificate at a trendy clothing store would be perfect. No doubt she'll want to shop but I'm sure her budget will be on the thin side.

Topshop or Selfridges? Think one of those two is the one? Or perhaps both? She likes Express, Mandees, FHM, Forever 21.. stuff like that. oh and The Limited..

thanks again!!
posted by seinfeld at 9:16 AM on June 21, 2005

Is she a theater person? Maybe tickets to a show that's really hot right now.
posted by MsMolly at 12:24 PM on June 21, 2005

Surely Topshop would be the choice for a 20-year-old girl.
posted by grouse at 12:32 PM on June 21, 2005

any suggestions for how i get a gift card for topshop from the US? she leaves in two weeks!!

posted by seinfeld at 10:58 AM on June 22, 2005

I made a more detailed posting here but I think JRun lost it. Anyway, somewhere on their web site is an e-mail where you can ask about vouchers, but I don't know if you'll be able to have them delivered to the U.S. Why not send it to her UK address after she gets here?
posted by grouse at 12:09 PM on June 24, 2005

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