Nostalgic German gifts
November 28, 2011 3:48 PM   Subscribe

Looking for a present that will remind a grandmother of her German heritage.

My husband's grandmother was born to German immigrants in 1924. She's lived in Minnesota her whole life, but grew up in a fairly traditional German farm household. I'm not sure which part of Germany her parents are from, but they were farmers in Germany, and settled as farmers when the immigrated. I'd like to give her something nostalgic for her upcoming birthday that would remind her of her childhood. This can be a baked or food item, holiday decoration, clothing, you name it.

Do you know a gift that would make her reminiscence about growing up with German parents in that time period? Thanks for any suggestions.
posted by Laura Macbeth to Shopping (16 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
What about this cookbook or something along similar lines? I had German relatives who came to the States in the 19th century, and we still have faded (and copied for the sake of preservation) recipes that were handed down that mean a lot to the family--and that we sometimes still use.
posted by HonoriaGlossop at 3:54 PM on November 28, 2011

Given that she grew up in the US it is really hard to say whether this would be a nostalgic treat or a total oddity but I'm going to go with schneeballen or Schneebälle. They are a ridiculous pastry that I ate way too much of while in Germany.
posted by boobjob at 3:57 PM on November 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

Christmas pyramide. The're seasonal and they rule.
posted by wenestvedt at 4:01 PM on November 28, 2011

Wooden springerle cookie molds!!!!!!!
posted by devymetal at 4:01 PM on November 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

Perhaps a German candle pyramid or a really good stollen?
posted by Morrigan at 4:04 PM on November 28, 2011

My grandfather (Berliner) often gets different kinds of marzipan as gifts. You might want to research specific German makes/kinds, but I understand that marzipan is a traditional treat.
posted by Jehan at 4:07 PM on November 28, 2011

My own German grandmother loved Leibfraumilch (sp?) wine.
posted by easily confused at 4:14 PM on November 28, 2011

Christstollen, especially if you can get it freshly made from a German bakery. Also a good bet: pfeffernüsse.
posted by infinitywaltz at 4:26 PM on November 28, 2011


(Also, jinx, Morrigen.)
posted by wenestvedt at 4:29 PM on November 28, 2011

Or make stollen from scratch for her! I add marzipan to the middle of mine. Delicious.
posted by sugarbomb at 4:35 PM on November 28, 2011

You could get her some Christmas music. My mother is about the age of your husband's grandmother. When I got nostalgic for the Christmas carols of childhood, my parents gave me this album. Yes, it is called Christmas in Vienna, but it has all the old carols she would know, and in German.

Stollen, particularly with marzipan in the middle, is definitely an option.

Marzipan is traditional at the holidays (particularly marzipan shaped like fruit, or like pigs - pigs are good luck), but I personally find it cloying as candy by itself. Marzipan chocolate on the other hand, is great. Niederegger makes good chocolate marzipan.
posted by gudrun at 7:07 PM on November 28, 2011 [2 favorites]

If the family uses a natural, fresh Christmas tree, consider getting clip-on candle holders and lighting the tree with candles as a special treat for her. Nothing compares to sitting around a tree lit with candles, maybe listening to some German carols and sipping ... whatever. (I've done it several times, and no, the tree doesn't burst into flames.)

Google "christmas tree candle holders" or some variation and be sure to buy candles that are the right size for the holders. My holders used the same candles as are sold for the spinning-tinkling things. I used to get beeswax candles for their natural, old-fashioned look and scent.
posted by ceiba at 7:38 PM on November 28, 2011

I absolutely agree with Marzipan Stollen and Pfeffernüsse. Christmas tree candles would be a hit too. Every year I patiently wait for thanksgiving to be over and our German butcher starts laying out the Christmas spread of treats like this. I'll buy two bags of Pfeffernüsse because one bag won't survive the ride home. It's like I'm a kid again.
posted by jamesalbert at 1:14 AM on November 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Wonderful ideas. Thank you! I ended up buying HonoriaGlossop's cookbook suggestion, and I'll probably buy some of the treats mentioned, too (no one wants me to bake them, trust me). Thanks again!
posted by Laura Macbeth at 7:54 AM on November 29, 2011

If you really want to wow her, check out the chests of treats on a site like GDH imports.
posted by beyond_pink at 3:16 PM on November 29, 2011

Update: She loved the cookbook! Said it was very authentic.
posted by Laura Macbeth at 6:07 PM on March 21, 2012

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