A stupid Xmas question in November...
November 21, 2012 2:28 PM   Subscribe

Christmas gift filter. Difficulty : I know next to nothing about the recipient and the gift has to survive in my luggage from the UK to Aus.

In about 3 weeks I'm flying out to Australia to spend Christmas with my brother and his girlfriend.

I know basically nothing about her. The gift has to survive 36 hours in a suitcase, and then a week in the boot of a car.

I'm looking for suggestions for things that might appeal to an Australian lass 25-30 being visited by English not-relatives.

I know this is a horrible question, but I'm open to any suggestions...
posted by sodium lights the horizon to Human Relations (18 answers total)
Is there a reason why you can't ask your brother for suggestions?
posted by COD at 2:42 PM on November 21, 2012 [2 favorites]

Nice pajamas. Not sexy of course but quality men's style pajamas.

Luxurious cotton terry robe.

Lotions and soaps made in UK that aren't available in Australia.

Silver photo frames.

Moleskin journal.
posted by Fairchild at 2:47 PM on November 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

I second asking your brother, but as an Australian lass of about that age, I would enjoy some English-style sweet things. Yes, we can get some of them here, but I'd still appreciate it! (Although they may have to be relatively sturdy sweets (i.e. definitely non-perishable/non-melting), to survive a week in the boot of a car in an Aussie summer!)
posted by Defying Gravity at 3:06 PM on November 21, 2012

My go-to gift for people I don't know well tends to be alcohol (usually a bottle of wine). You can pick something up in duty free and care it on to the plane with you -- you'll save a bit of money and won't need to worry about it getting broken in you checked baggage. In this case, I'd obviously make a point of not buying Australian wine, since she's got easy access to it.

Some people don't drink, but such people are usually in the minority in Western countries so wine is generally a safe bet.

However, I'm with the others who are suggesting that you ask your brother for suggestions unless there is some particular reason that you can't.
posted by asnider at 3:15 PM on November 21, 2012

This might be an odd suggestion, but I'm going to throw it out there anyway.

About 15 years ago, my mother came back to Oz from a trip around Britain and she gave me a small folding umbrella which had a map of the Tube (or however you refer to the English train network) printed on it. I loved it. It was practical, small enough to throw in a decent-sized handbag, and no-one here had ever seen one before.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 3:39 PM on November 21, 2012 [3 favorites]

As another Australian female close to your age range, seconding English food - but due to Australia's very strict custom laws, English candy is really the only option. And it's a very good option.

Anything else requires a bit more knowledge about her (does she drink? is she interested in any crafts? Clothes she'd like?)
posted by Ashlyth at 3:55 PM on November 21, 2012

I know you'll think this is random but this bag is currently my go-to gift for absolutely everyone. If you're granola, it's hemp. If you're a geek, it is a laptop bag. If you're a girly girl, it has a bow. If you're conservative or style-less, it's grey. If you're crunchy, you can wad it up and use it as an extra shopping bag. If you're a hipster, it's hip. And if you're a style maven, it's a fab bag. And for your purposes, it folds flat and travels well.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:33 PM on November 21, 2012 [6 favorites]

My two cents is a bottle of Pimms - it's both an excellent festive summer drink down here and its English! Otherwise, can't really go wrong with a duty free bottle of flavoured vodka or champagne (something christmassy) assuming they are not teetotallers.

If they are non-drinkers, super english-themed goods such as fancy tea, candies, something of the like from harrods or a famous UK department store. FWIW I have brought all sorts of foodstuffs into Australia from o/s including dried chillis from the States, fresh cheeses from Europe, Pickles, all sorts of things with no issues at all (any meat, fresh fruit, etc is out). These things must be in clearly marked packages, unopened and not home packaged. see here for more info on customs

Remember candy is dandy but liquor is quicker!
posted by Under the Sea at 4:53 PM on November 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

i meant to say flavoured gin (thats more english than vodka), presuming she drinks gin
posted by Under the Sea at 4:58 PM on November 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

How about a picture in a nice frame of your brother from when he was a little kid. or a collage of his childhood pictures.
posted by gt2 at 5:05 PM on November 21, 2012 [2 favorites]

Save your dough, and room in your suitcase and hit the duty free.

Liquor, champaign, perfume. All are thoughtful and you can buy at the airport and carry right on the plane, so you don't have to worry getting stuff smushed. You can bring a folded up gift bag in your luggage and do the gift thing when you get to your destination.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:26 PM on November 21, 2012 [2 favorites]

I wouldn't fuss too much over it. Ask your brother what she likes - you don't want to bring a bottle of red wine if it gives her migraines, for example. Museum gift shops sometimes work really well for me in terms of finding something different, not mass-produced, and interesting.

If she likes to cook, some silicon kitchenware like this or this might be nice for her and easy for you to pack/not damage in your travels.
posted by bunderful at 5:33 PM on November 21, 2012

Fortnums is good for this kind of stuff. Tea, spiced jam, sweets.

It's unobtainable in Australia and definitely says royal and British and fancy to use uncouth colonial types.
posted by dontjumplarry at 6:35 PM on November 21, 2012

Get her some fragranced moisturisers or sugar scrubs from Boots. Their stuff is delicious and it's hard to find anything quite like it in Australia. I always stock up when I'm in a country that has Boots.
posted by embrangled at 11:00 PM on November 21, 2012

I'm a little surprised to see all the alcohol suggestions. After putting my foot in it one too many times by giving bottles of wine to non-drinkers including former alcoholics in AA, I've come to regret that I used to think wine was a good generic gift. I like the pyjamas (if you know her approximate size), lotions and soaps, hemp bag and moleskin journal suggestions. I'd get a few Montezuma flavored chocolate bars as well as but not instead of one of these other gifts.
posted by hazyjane at 11:34 PM on November 21, 2012

Get it online, in Aus, and have it shipped to her. Alternatively, look for some kind of experience in her locality, also to be purchased online. Ask you brother what sort of things she likes doing - could be a spa treatment or something. Food, alcohol and toilettries sound like a good idea in general but I'd be reluctant, mainly because although I like all three even people who know me fairly well normally get them a bit wrong. Duty free may not be such a good option either because it'll probably be cheaper in Tesco and you may struggle with you purchases when you make flight connections etc.
posted by koahiatamadl at 11:36 PM on November 21, 2012

I think Pimms is a lovely idea, as is the flavoured gin, but I would check that she drinks first. I would not buy pajamas or a robe in summer, unless a very light one. Those presents would seem odd to me on a hot Christmas day, which is often is here. Tea, spiced jam and sweets might be nice but sound a little old-ladyish for a person in that age bracket. Actually I love those things and I'm not that much older and Australian but I think people in their early 20s tend to be a little less inclined to such things. Massive generalisation but considering you know nothing else, it's what we are working with!
posted by jojobobo at 12:06 AM on November 22, 2012

Just re-read and read correctly-- 25-30 (I thought 20-25). I am back on board with tea and jams.
posted by jojobobo at 12:08 AM on November 22, 2012

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