Gifts for Farmers
August 9, 2012 10:38 PM   Subscribe

A very particular kind of thank you gift. I'd like to make (possibly purchase, but not ideal) gifts for the folks who farm our home/estate vineyard. It's the hardest I've ever seen anyone work, in any year. They went NEXT LEVEL on us this year. It's shaping up as a great vintage, but still. These folks went beyond. I have some skills in the gift-making department, but this has to be crazy special.

I have also farmed vineyards, so this is not a " I don't understand what you do but I'm grateful" gift. This year, I managed the cellar and cared for the previous years work with all my might. So this has to be a "G#d, I wish I had been there, I've worked my ass off to take care of the wine we made last year, I promise to do the same this year...Garsh I love you guys. You built this vintage with your bare hands and it's stunning."
I'm a knitter, but I plan to make hats not only for the year round crew, but also the interns so it isn't enough.

A couple things I CANNOT give them:
1. Wine. Or beer, or spirits. Trust me, it's not how we roll.
2. Gift certificates. Blech, ugh, no.
3. I am a woman, and single, and they are all partnered up dudes. All the partners know me and know I'm not...anything but a co-worker, but still. I spend hundreds more hours with these guys than they get to, so I'm very arms-length, and trust, I'm no threat, but I just don't want it to be anything that might feel too personal to take home...Not that I have any idea what that particularly might be, but I'm sure you get my drift. These guys are my brothers, and I want their wives/partners to keep liking/trusting me. (Sounds way more dramatic than it is, just felt I needed to flesh that out. WE ARE ALL COOL, YO. NO BANANA HAMPER (hamper? hanger? I don't even know) GIFTS IS ALL I'M SAYIN')

So, what the heck do I give them? A tin of Anchovies from a small spanish isle? Flowers? Tomatoes? Write em a poem? (scratch that) a scarf to go with the hat just seems...meh.

People who love and admire your co-workers, what do you do?

posted by metasav to Human Relations (20 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
1. Wine. Or beer, or spirits. Trust me, it's not how we roll.

Then money.
posted by devnull at 10:40 PM on August 9, 2012 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Okay, we all farmed together last vintage, we are all really poor.
posted by metasav at 10:42 PM on August 9, 2012

Response by poster: budget? Something I can find in my house? No? well, how does $30 sound? Sounds cheap to me. But, that's prolly the limit.
posted by metasav at 10:48 PM on August 9, 2012

maybe something wine themed? you could make wine charms or something, but I find those girly, as well a maybe making homemade bottle stoppers or something? sculpy is pretty amazing stuff if you're at all artistically inclined, you could make somewhat personalized little sculptures of something with a medium size screw embedded in them, and then screw that (glue screw) into one of those larger, slightly tapered corks. maybe give the whole thing a sealing to finish it off.

or coasters? you can get glass squares cut or sometimes find nice ones as tiles at hardware stores, buy a bottle of glass etch and paint or stencil them?
posted by euphoria066 at 10:55 PM on August 9, 2012

How about some nice work gloves. If you want, you could have the name of the vineyard (maybe also the year of this awesome vintage to commemorate it) printed/embroidered on the gloves.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 10:55 PM on August 9, 2012 [7 favorites]

Budgets are frustratingly real and it's hard to be memorable for $30. You don't say how many gifts we're talking about, but I am thinking maybe pooling the $30's and doing one memorable thing. Perhaps a mural or plaque commemorating the great vintage of 2012 with all their names inscribed for the winery wall.

A metal plaque may be more than your budget but perhaps you or friends can do a painting or wooden or other style. Or, especially within the farming world, trading some of that great vintage for someone's metal work skills.
posted by uncaken at 11:18 PM on August 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

How about baking stuff for them - big metal tin of chocolate chip and ginger-molasses cookies, or a chocolate cake from scratch?

Food scratches a particular itch that everyone has.

If they weren't working for you, really nice tools / gloves would be a nice gift, but since they are, it might be a little bit odd.

maybe something wine themed?

Tricky. It's like getting a vet yet another pin with a kitty on it - they get swamped with stuff like that.
posted by sebastienbailard at 11:27 PM on August 9, 2012 [6 favorites]

The most memorable "thanks for your work" gifts I've gotten have always included hand-written notes that were obviously incredibly personalized. Since you've really been there and done that, I'm sure that the notes you could write for these guys would be particularly appreciated.

I think consumable gifts are the way to go, coupled with personalized card. That way you won't be cluttering up their space and they can share whatever it might be with whoever they want, but they'll also have an enduring token of your feelings of gratitude. Everyone's got different taste when it comes to stuff but being thanked from someone who actually knows and appreciates your work is universal.
posted by Mizu at 11:47 PM on August 9, 2012 [7 favorites]

Money. Period. There is no other choice as good. No matter what you hit on, it's not going to be something everyone will truly like. With money, everyone can buy themselves what they truly like. If you absolutely must make something, make personalized cards to hold the CASH MONEY bonus.
posted by parrot_person at 12:27 AM on August 10, 2012

I agree with Mizu re: consumable gifts made by you, plus a heartfelt card. The added bonus of giving a consumable gift is that your co-workers can then take the gifts home to share with partners, thereby currying even more good will between you and dispelling any potentially awkward notions inadvertently raised by (very well-intentioned!) hand-knit items from another woman (just saying).
posted by anonnymoose at 1:34 AM on August 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

How about throwing a nice little party and making it wonderful for the spouses/girlfriends? Show that you appreciate that the extra time spent farming is time not spent with partners, and you'll also be giving a gift to the farmers: it's hard to come up with occasions to take the ladies out where you all get to dress up.

It could be a nice dinner party either at your place or, maybe even better, at a local restaurant or hotel's banquet room (make sure you can bring your own food if you want to keep costs reasonable). There should probably be some nice (not live) music, please don't forget to have filling food for vegetarians, etc.
posted by amtho at 1:43 AM on August 10, 2012 [8 favorites]

I have vague recollections of watching movies set on Italian vineyards where the owner throws a huge informal banquet for all the workers and their families at the end of the season where there's great food, pretty lights, wine, dancing. Granted, it was in the movies but they always looked like so much fun. For inspiration, I think there's something like that in 'Under the Tuscan Sun.' Roast on a spit, some of last year's vintage, salad, easy!
posted by Jubey at 2:24 AM on August 10, 2012 [3 favorites]

Not sure why, but I am thinking of certificates. "Best vineyard farmer 2012" or something like that. You could personalize it and add different descriptions for their special skills. Do you remember the credit card company's commercial? Gift certificate - $15, bottle of wine - $30, pride - priceless.
posted by travelwithcats at 3:45 AM on August 10, 2012

How about a nice pocket knife? Like maybe one of those brushed stainless steel ones that can be engraved...
Useful to anyone who works outside, and the engraving could make it really special (maybe the vintage year?)
posted by PlantGoddess at 4:39 AM on August 10, 2012

Seconding Jubey - A giant home-made dinner where all the families are invited. It doesn't have to be expensive or fancy but $30 per person can come out to a lot of great food!
posted by spec80 at 5:08 AM on August 10, 2012 [6 favorites]

I like the idea of a heartfelt note and a small useful item like gloves (Salvor Hardin) or a pocket knife (PlantGoddess).

If you do a party / meal, considering doing it during regular working hours as not everyone likes to give up after hours time that they are not being paid for and some might resent it.
posted by idest at 6:09 AM on August 10, 2012

Last Christmas, I bought some teeny-tiny notecards, some teeny-tiny brads, some "fancy" paper (thick, embossed/glittered/pearlized/etc.) and a box of Prismacolor pencils. Then I made each member of my family a few little tiny flipbooks titled "Because of You...". They were filled with cute little illustrations of things that I was grateful to that particular family member for (e.g. "Because of you, I'll always make cupcakes and Halloween costumes by hand" was in my mom's book). Everybody loved them.
posted by julthumbscrew at 6:41 AM on August 10, 2012

You work with them, so pay attention to what they like to eat. Pie, brownies, chocolate, really good steak? Pie is not terribly expensive to make from scratch with apples from the U-Pick place, brownies with toasted, salted walnuts, etc. Use your time to shop for Porterhouse steak really on sale, or whatever other thing. Or make a habit of going to the local Good-Salvation-Will-Army, and find a leather jacket, great shirt, some other thing.

You could have an awards dinner, and make the favorite foods (steak, unbaked pie and other stuff freezes really well) and present awards. Save the metal lids from frozen oj, punch a hole, and put on a wide striped ribbon. Decorate to make it a gold medal. Write a letter of appreciation for each person. Present the medal for semi-silly achievements, like "best tractor-handling" or whatever, along with the letter, and maybe a Certificate of Appreciation.
posted by theora55 at 7:57 AM on August 10, 2012

I don't know how you bottle the Vintage, but one suggestion would be to have every bottle inscribed with one name from the people who have worked on it. Something like "hand crafted by X".

I know you said no wine, but presenting a bottle (even a tiny special edition) with their own name on it might be a good addition to the other gifts.

[This is apart from the gifts though, in case I wasn't clear]
posted by theobserver at 9:32 AM on August 10, 2012

Yes, if you don't have money, you have to spend time. That's why baking works, but anything that shows you spent real time and thought on them is a reasonable substitute for something expensive.
posted by small_ruminant at 9:51 AM on August 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

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