What to get a new American?
September 19, 2007 8:26 AM   Subscribe

New American Filter: I just found out that a friend of mine will become an American this coming Tuesday. Recommend a good commemorative gift.

I am planning on attending the ceremony with the friend. Although I might like to think my presence is enough, the hive mind is bound to have better ideas.

Please keep in mind that I will need to have the gift by Tuesday. I can spend anywhere from $25 to $50. We are in Utah.
posted by catseatcheese to Shopping (27 answers total)
What country are the emigrating from? Is there a food, item or similar that they thought particularly novel when they moved here? Is there something they can't get in their original country due to laws/cultural differences/limited supply/trade embargoes?
posted by JeremiahBritt at 8:33 AM on September 19, 2007

While they tend to hand out those little hand flags, you could always buy a regular sized American flag and a display case, and give it to them.

A nice copy of the Constitution and/or Declaration of Independence, is nice. Or, perhaps a collection of speeches from great Americans like Abraham Lincoln or Martin Luther King, Jr?
posted by Atreides at 8:34 AM on September 19, 2007

Frame a dollar bill, with a little plaque with his/her name and the date?
posted by corvine at 8:42 AM on September 19, 2007

Response by poster: JeremiahBritt: My friend is from Mexico. There is a pretty large Hispanic population in this area with quite a few truly authentic restaurants and tiendas. I can't think of anything offhand that he would have trouble acquiring but am open for thoughts and suggestions.
posted by catseatcheese at 8:47 AM on September 19, 2007

How about an enormous healthcare bill (photoshopped), giant college loan debt for their kids (photoshopped), a TV Guide, the most recent American Idol Karaoke CD, and a case of Bud Light.

And then explain that it is all in good fun, welcome to a great new home, you are there for them, etc.
posted by bunnycup at 8:50 AM on September 19, 2007 [1 favorite]

make a donation in their name to the people who defend the Constitution of your friend's new country
posted by matteo at 8:51 AM on September 19, 2007 [1 favorite]

Perhaps a nice passport cover, around a folded card standing in for a US passport. (Possibly containing the application form, and/or receipt for the application fee already paid, though that probably blows the budget)

This next idea might take a little planning, and seat-of-the-pants stress to keep it a surprise. Buy a photo frame, decorate each side of the frame with a hanging flag, their original nationality on one side, American on the other. (You can use inkjet cloth to print them out exactly how they're needed). On the day, at the ceremony, take a bunch of photos while they're not watching you. Discretely drop the memory card into a photo-printing kiosk, come back later and select the best pic.

Thus within an hour of the ceremony, you can present them with a memento of their moment.

Or, don't bother to have it done within minutes of the ceremony, instead take the time for some photoshop, such as a monochrome crowd shot with the person in colour, so it's clear they're in there.)
posted by -harlequin- at 8:55 AM on September 19, 2007

When my girl got her citizenship last year, some of her friends (who are, evidently, more thoughtful than I) gave her a 4-pack of Miller Lite tall boys. They said it was THE American beer (gross).

Throwing a congratulatory BBQ might be a nice thing to do. Make sure you have all the typical american trappings of a family reunion; crap beer, hot dogs, hamburgers, 'tater chips and salad, football on the TV and radio, like that.

Alternately you could have this person beat the crap out of a GWB pinata filled with the writ of habeas corpus. And congratulations to her, BTW.
posted by Pecinpah at 9:03 AM on September 19, 2007

Guys - the snarky answers aren't really helping a whole lot.

Personally I think a framed copy of the constitution is a good idea.
posted by Happy Dave at 9:28 AM on September 19, 2007

If he's serious and proud about it, this might be a bad idea, but if he as a more lighthearted approach to the whole thing:

*Get him a big red, white, and blue cowboy hat, or an American flag shirt, or something horrible and gaudy like that.

*Take him shooting. Bonus if there's someplace nearby where you can shoot machine guns. Double bonus if they'll blast "Proud To Be An American" or, even better, "America -- Fuck Yeah!" while you blow watermelons to smithereens.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:32 AM on September 19, 2007

A Homemade Apple Pie

I like the BBQ idea.

A DVD or three about American history or values... Mr. Smith Goes to Washington? Glory? Pleasantville? Dr. Strangelove? Lots of options.

A nice photographic coffee table book of America's backroads or America from above or something.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 9:32 AM on September 19, 2007

If he's at all inclined, I recommend a copy of Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music: the folks recorded there and involved in putting it together (and reissuing it) represent a lot of what's interesting, admirable, and unique about us, I think.

Plus, it's a lot of fun.
posted by ryanshepard at 9:38 AM on September 19, 2007

I'm a fan of The Patriot's Handbook by Caroline Kennedy. It has a great wealth of imporant speeches, documents, court decisions, poems, etc. The Constitution and DOI are in there. It has great balance too, with John McCain writing about the flag next to the decision of the court case that allowed you to burn it in protest.
posted by ALongDecember at 9:39 AM on September 19, 2007

"While they tend to hand out those little hand flags, you could always buy a regular sized American flag and a display case, and give it to them."

Abortions for some, tiny American flags for the others!

When my neighbor got his citizenship, we had him over for beers and football. We joked about surprising and hogtying him, but didn't. We also gave him a bunch of postcards from around the country, with places like Graceland and Mt. Rushmore represented.
posted by klangklangston at 10:12 AM on September 19, 2007

I think the American flag in a display case is generally found in homes where a veteran family member has died. It's the flag on the casket that the local VFW puts there. Nice idea, but a little gloomy.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 10:18 AM on September 19, 2007

Call your local Congressman or Senator. Ask for a letter congratulating the new constituent. They can crank that out pretty quickly for you. Get that letter framed.
posted by 26.2 at 10:30 AM on September 19, 2007 [3 favorites]

Call your local Congressman or Senator. Ask for a letter congratulating the new constituent. They can crank that out pretty quickly for you. Get that letter framed.

Depeding on the office, they also often have US flags that have flown over the Capitol for cheap/free.
posted by the christopher hundreds at 11:06 AM on September 19, 2007

I whole heartedly disagree with the "something from the old country" idea lines.

I hadn't thought about the framed flag being a bad think until kuujjuarapiks comment, but I still think it could be good. On a more budget level the apple pie idea is good too, bonus points if you make it by hand, extra bonus if your friend is the sort that would help you make it, and never has before.
posted by TheDukeofLancaster at 11:23 AM on September 19, 2007

Give them a copy of a book about a Revolutionary figure, maybe Wood's The Americanization of Benjamin Franklin? As a non-American permanently in America, finding out what began to separate Americans from Europeans in the 18th century was really important for me.
posted by nasreddin at 12:21 PM on September 19, 2007

a voter registration form might be nice gesture. a flag is always a nice gesture. i've heard good things about founding brothers, which is a group biography of our first few presidents and their cohorts. i like the idea of the patriot's handbook, mentioned above, too.
posted by thinkingwoman at 12:43 PM on September 19, 2007

Even if you getting something else in addition, I would strongly urge a pocket-sized copy of the Constitution (including the Bill of Rights).
posted by JMOZ at 12:46 PM on September 19, 2007

Framed flags are always (to my mind, anyways) found in the home of a veteran's widow. A non-framed flag would be nice, however, for hoisting up on the Fourth and other banner-raising days. By the way, my company publishes a (not very fancy) pocket constitution; I'll gladly mail one out if you want. Email in profile.
posted by Terminal Verbosity at 1:04 PM on September 19, 2007

Ooh, and a case of Sam Adams, just in case someone does get him an "American" beer like Miller or Bud. Named for a patriot and tasty too.
posted by Terminal Verbosity at 1:06 PM on September 19, 2007

Zinn's A People's History of the United States would make an excellent commemorative gift.
posted by mullingitover at 4:04 PM on September 19, 2007

If she just took the citizens exam, she would have been studying the constitution for quite some time, kind of like giving someone a text book after they have graduated, I second the passport cover.
posted by kanemano at 6:08 PM on September 19, 2007

When I got my citizenship, my husband:

- Took me straight from the ceremony to the voter's registration booth set up for that purpose next door.
- Gave me a gaudy "I love America" necklace that I love to look and laugh at but never wear, as he intended.
- Took me to a quintessential American diner (like you see in the movies) for dinner.
- Presented me with a 6-pack of Bud Light for the full American beer experience when we got home.

That was a good day!

IMO a flag would work well, but only if it's the kind that you can actually use! I still have the little one I got from the ceremony. Bonus if your friend has anywhere to actually fly it.
If your friend is anything like me, she/he knows more about American history and government than you, since we study that stuff leading up to the citizenship test. Still, a nice book of the greatest Presidential speeches, a copy of the Constitution, etc. would work well. Inscribe the front flap with the date, a nice personal greeting welcoming the new citizen, and add signatures from those who will be there that day.

Or, get a nice empty shadow box frame where your friend can put the items from the ceremony: the little hand held flag, the handout that they give you that contains the national anthem and the pledge of allegiance, and then you can scan the citizenship certificate, reduce it in size somewhat, and add a miniature copy of it on nice paper.

The best gift you can give, though, is to just be there to celebrate with your friend on this very important day. That means a lot, I'm sure.
posted by gemmy at 6:09 PM on September 19, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks to all for the ideas. I am off of work today and will head to the local megalow marts...I might even check out amazon.
posted by catseatcheese at 1:23 PM on September 20, 2007

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