Help me, creative gift givers of mefi.
July 7, 2016 1:21 AM   Subscribe

I have been tasked with buying a goodbye gift for a coworker who is moving back to his native Australia. I know nothing of substance about this person except that he's probably around 30ish. His job is sort of a general corporate project manager type. My budget is $200. It would be nice if the gift had some kind of reference to the United States, since our company is American and he lived here for several years. Help.

(Anonymous because his leaving is not yet public knowledge, and who knows, maybe my coworkers are mefites.)
posted by anonymous to Grab Bag (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Is some kind of experience or consumable that he can do/use before leaving an option? If I were dealing with moving everything I own halfway across the world, the last thing I'd want is more stuff from people I don't know very well. But a nice bottle of scotch or the like that I could share with coworkers at the going away party or a trip to an amusement park with my family (if there's that much time left in the schedule) would be lovely.
posted by Candleman at 3:12 AM on July 7, 2016 [3 favorites]

You need to ask around and find out a little more about him. Has he got into supporting the local football or basketball team? What will he miss when he goes back to Australia?

I can't speak for all Australians but on that budget I'd hope for a selection of hot sauces, a Donald trump pinata, and a gift card for a local shoe store. But that's just me. I don't claim to be the average Australian...
posted by finding.perdita at 3:24 AM on July 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

Some sort of consumable indeed sounds great. What about a gift certificate to a fancy restaurant in town he can use before he goes (flagging for him that you didn't want him to have to haul anything back . . .)
posted by heavenknows at 3:52 AM on July 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

I would try to focus on a smaller geographic area. If you think about the state or city you are in, does that make it easier?
posted by amtho at 3:59 AM on July 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

If he's trying to ship all of his belongings halfway around the world, I'd either get him something designed to be used before he leaves if there is a long time before his actual move (such as a gift certificate for an event or restaurant or something in your city), or something that he won't have to deal with until he gets there (such as a gift certificate for something in the city he's moving to). The last thing he wants is some other item that he didn't pick out himself that he's now going to either have to throw away before he moves, or pay to have shipped, which can be incredibly expensive.
posted by decathecting at 4:16 AM on July 7, 2016

Things with your city or state written on them that he can (will) regift to friends and family when he gets back home. Local booze. Presidential paraphernalia. Really.
posted by taff at 4:19 AM on July 7, 2016

I'd get something local/regional to the area he/the company is in, as opposed to a USA thing he could get anywhere. Local art/craft that will remind him of his years in that town/state. For example, where I am, a print of the Blue Ridge mountains by a locally respected artist would be perfect. It doesn't have to be huge, but I wouldn't worry about picking "art" for someone's home. He'll put it up in his office back in Oz along with certificates and diplomas.

If he's moving, he's shipping his things. He's not going to have to fit it into the overhead bin on the plane.
posted by headnsouth at 4:22 AM on July 7, 2016

Shipping things here is exorbitant. Seriously consider giving him something consumable or an experience or cash. If you must give him something concrete and permanent, make it something lightweight but not fragile, and easily packed. Also ensure it's nothing likely to hang his stuff up in quarantine forever (this is mostly straightforward but has its moments - avoid wooden products, seeds and straw, skins and feathers, dried flowers.)
posted by gingerest at 5:42 AM on July 7, 2016 [3 favorites]

When I left the employ of an Australian while we were both in Japan, he gave me a wooden box that had been made out of some kind of red gum wood taken from a fence post in Australia. (Apparently, if you use wood from local trees to make fence posts, bugs won't eat it.) I still have the box, and now I'm telling you about it, 25 years later.

So I'd suggest a small, handmade item incorporating materials from a location of relevance. Consumables are OK, but will be consumed (if they're any good); and kitsch (e.g. a Donald Trump piƱata) will get ratty and eventually resented and discarded (just like a hypothetical President Trump!)
posted by spacewrench at 7:44 AM on July 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

This is really going to depend on what he's into (Australians are not all the same!) - can you ask someone who knows him better what his interests are? If he's developed an interest in US politics, or sports, then you may be able to find something relevant that he will like but can't get in Australia. e.g. if he's into basketball, could you get him a subscription to a US basketball magazine? Or a New Yorker subscription if that's more up his alley? These publications are sometimes available in bigger Australian cities, but usually expensive.

If you go with a physical object, everyone saying that it should be small, light, and not cause issues with Customs is absolutely right. If he's in a suit-wearing profession, a really nice tie from a local designer? Is he the kind of guy who would wear a nice piece of jewellery? Local is good - the appeal of generic Americana wears off pretty fast.
posted by une_heure_pleine at 9:21 AM on July 7, 2016

Maybe some sort of donation to a local cause or a non-profit? Obviously, something either non-controversial or something you know he likes. Like, probably not a donation to an organization to prevent Australians from coming to town and taking our jobs or anything, but something like wildlife rehabilitation or membership to a local public radio station or something like that with a distinct local connection, where at most, he might get some little piece of swag but nothing cumbersome.
posted by ernielundquist at 9:27 AM on July 7, 2016

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