Welcome to America! Here’s a gift!
January 4, 2019 5:29 PM   Subscribe

What to give?

My mid 30’s nephew is bring his Filipino born fiancé to the US next week. He’s asked us to meet her with him at the airport, which we cannot do. Instead, I’d like to host a small, family focused dinner party in her honor. I’d like to get her a gift that will help welcome her to the US. She will be a part of family celebrations in the future and would like to do something she will remember.
posted by rtodd to Human Relations (14 answers total)
What area do you live in? What is her occupation/interests?
posted by arnicae at 5:51 PM on January 4, 2019

Something unique to your area or region? If I were in your shoes and having to shop, I'd be looking at things related to Tennessee in general and Nashville in particular: some small piece of locally themed art, maybe a small framed print. If appropriate, local food or liquor. For us, to be sure, that'd mean Goo Goo Clusters and whiskey.
posted by jquinby at 5:54 PM on January 4, 2019

Personally I hate big to-dos at the airport especially after a long flight and customs.
I'd suggest giving her 2 weeks to settle in a bit and do a small normal quiet dinner at your home. The best gift may be your time. If your nephew is working and you have more flexibility, can you take her to some local sites?
Then as you get to know her, help her find a dentist, take her driving test, hair place (she may prefer a Filipino for this), figure out health insurance, etc. - this is all super time consuming.

A meaningful material gift may be tough without knowing her well. And it may make her feel obligated to wear it or whatever when you're around. Maybe some chocolates or wine?
posted by k8t at 5:56 PM on January 4, 2019 [6 favorites]

Thanks all! We live in Dallas, and she will be coming from Hong Kong and living in a distant suburb from us.
posted by rtodd at 6:19 PM on January 4, 2019

I love the idea of getting her a gift to commemorate the occasion. She will likely remember it fondly, and it will set up your relationship on a positive note.

I suggest something that grounds her in the new area. Is weather different than where she is coming from? Like does it get a lot colder? She may value a beautiful pair of gloves with a note saying that you hope she enjoys the new weather and home.

I get the whole consumable gift thing being awesome, but in this case something that lasts longer may work better. Maybe even an orchid or other plant.
posted by cacao at 6:21 PM on January 4, 2019 [3 favorites]

Find out if there’s any good Filipino super markets around you and take her there on an outing. Find a time where you can teach each other a favorite dish.

A photo album for her pictures or start it off with one family photo you take that night to begin the memories
posted by raccoon409 at 6:25 PM on January 4, 2019 [2 favorites]

Is there something you all have/do that you could give her so that she gets a "you're one of us" message/feeling from it? Like I don't know: you all have throw blankets made from old tshirts or jeans, or there's a particular type of teapot the whole family seems to have adopted, or you all have ugly christmas sweaters, a specific liquor you always use to toast important family events...whatever.

Obviously if you are not Filipino yourselves, you have to be careful that you're not giving her something that implies she has to change from her way of doing something to yours.

I also like the photo album idea. Get something special from etsy.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 7:18 PM on January 4, 2019 [2 favorites]

If this were happening in the Texan half of my family, she'd get a surprisingly nice cowboy hat and it would be played for goofy laughs and we'd take a photo all together in our hats. Later on she would find out how useful a wide brimmed hat is in Texas. Understandably, cowboy hats are not to everyone's taste and this could go very pear-shaped. But I wonder if leaning a bit silly Texan might hit the right tone of convivial welcome you're trying to achieve.
posted by Mizu at 7:23 PM on January 4, 2019 [9 favorites]

The balance is between "welcome to the family" and "welcome to America", ideally with the family stuff first. Depending upon how much time she has spent in the US, the first few weeks are likely to be a combination of bureaucracy and high-amplitude novelty. The "none of this makes sense, this sucks" bit of culture shock kicks in a bit later. I'm inclined towards a bit of silly Texan -- hat or cowboy boots -- combined with just doing normal Family Stuff and including her, and also raccoon409's suggestion to show her where her home-home community has a presence in the city. But do all of that once she's decompressed. And make clear that you're there when the "this sucks" phase kicks in.
posted by holgate at 8:19 PM on January 4, 2019

A small keepsake type gift, an “American” snack basket (fruits, nuts, chocolate), and a $50 Target gift card. I imagine a free prepaid shopping trip would be a welcome gift for a newly arrived immigrant.
posted by gnutron at 2:34 AM on January 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

I like several ideas above and would combine them. A nice meal at your home, silly Texan gift and a nice foto album or scrap book for her to start to document this next chapter.

And if you can at all manage please find time to spend with her, even though she will be living the other side of town. This kind of move is extremely isolating and if you can make the effort while she finds her feet that‘ll be a great foundation for the future relationship.
posted by koahiatamadl at 3:44 AM on January 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

Immigration is brutal. I would focus on gifts that help her feel home and can create a sense of home, so something that can be displayed or maybe something really nice like a very nice quilt or a blanket that either has something personal or is from around the area. It's gonna be a hard period of transition and adjusting, for sure! A gift card to a grocery store would be way cool and take off some cognitive load.

But tbh, I would offer space to talk and help with chores or do acts of service for her like supporting her with building hike or just listen and talk. Eat and make meals together and just open up space to talk and chat at her own pace.
posted by yueliang at 5:26 AM on January 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

When do they arrive? Can you round up pictures to send or post, saying who everyone is? Uncle Jim, Nephew's father's older brother. Loves fishing, works as an EMT. Aunt Jane, married to Uncle Jim for 21 years, plays Pokemon Go, loves to bake, works at Blah.. Maybe a ceremonial gift, t-shirt from Nephew's favorite team, or find a Texas graphic and make an iron-on t-shirt saying Welcome to Dallas, Welcome to Our Family and assure her it's ceremonial and she doesn't have to wear it. You could get a bouquet of balloons with a sign saying the same thing. For a actual gift, ask nephew what she and they like and need, maybe a really nice picture frame, and take a picture of the 2 of them to put in it.
posted by theora55 at 9:45 AM on January 5, 2019

Oh a funny lovely keepsake sounds great -- cowboy hat, ha! How about something like this?
posted by heavenknows at 7:27 AM on January 6, 2019

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