Help me find a classy gift for a newborn Norwegian girl
August 12, 2008 7:04 AM   Subscribe

Need help with a baby gift, but there's a catch...

Years ago, my parents hosted a foreign exchange student from Norway. He's now married and a first-time father with a three-month-old baby girl. He's traveling to the States to surprise my mom, and I wanted to make sure that my mom had a baby gift ready for them when they arrive.

Of course, we're buying that gift to give to my mom to give to the Norwegians, so as not to ruin the surprise. Here's what we'd like:

<>$50 or so price tag
<>Something that is small enough to pack in their luggage for the trip home
<>Something that is small enough to wrap nicely and subtly hide until we give it to my mom to give to them
<>Something nice, classy and readily available at retail stores (it's too late to order something online)
<>Michigan-centric would be nice, but not at all important

The family is significantly upper-middle class in Norway, and not in need of staples (so "money for diapers" and such isn't what I'm looking for). Any suggestions?
posted by GamblingBlues to Shopping (22 answers total)
Cute clothes? Maybe a bath towel set. If the baby is 3 mos old, and they are traveling, and as you say, not in need of staples, you are a bit limited. I'm thinking of things that are cloth, for easy packing purposes. Maybe a trendy sling (those can range from $20 to $100+, so I'm sure there's something nice in your price range). I don't really know what's common in Norway. A stuffed animal or cute blanket. Man, all my suggestions seem really lame... good luck.
posted by purpletangerine at 7:23 AM on August 12, 2008

I'd recommend a hooded baby towel. Useful for quite a while, available at just about any baby store, at multiple price points. Of course you'd like to wrap it up prettily, but after that, it's fairly small and squashes quite flat in luggage.
posted by jeather at 7:28 AM on August 12, 2008 [1 favorite]

If this were me, I would call my mom and ask her for help with baby gift for a "college friend" with as much of your criteria as possible (item needs to be small, high-end, and available locally) and go with one of her ideas. That way it will be something she would want to give. Plus she might know where the chi-chi baby boutiques are in your town, which is pretty much the kind of store I would recommend.
posted by boomchicka at 7:32 AM on August 12, 2008 [2 favorites]

I recommend these blankets:

You can find their products all over. I have no idea where you live ,but their site has a store locator.
Nice quality.
posted by nougat at 7:32 AM on August 12, 2008

If you're looking for something upscale and classy, go with something more along the lines of a keepsake. Not the hokey unusable things like a silver rattle (who actually uses those...?), but something more along the lines of a beautiful china training cup or one perfect spoon, or a charming little teapot for all the future make-believe tea parties she'll be hosting....that kind of thing.
posted by iconomy at 7:32 AM on August 12, 2008

Unless you think there's any way she might already suspect the visit, in which case of course don't ask her.
posted by boomchicka at 7:33 AM on August 12, 2008

Sorry if I'm over-thinking this, but won't it seem strange for your mother to have a gift at the ready if the guests are surprising her? Why not pick out a gift for you to give to them upon arrival, since you're already in on the surprise, and then let your mom pick out her own gift while they're here?
posted by amyms at 7:37 AM on August 12, 2008

Some board books with big bright pictures and almost no words. You can read to a baby when they are ready to look and listen (before they start talking). I think I started "reading" to my kids about the time they could sit up on their own so he will be able to use them in just a few months. "Reading" at that age means pointing to the picture and saying what it is. Later, you start talking about what you see or what the person/animal is doing. No need to read the actual words on the page. My daughter's first word was "duck" because loved a little story book about duck wandering around the farm.

Go to a good book store and check out the board books. I would suggest "Good Dog, Carl" by Alexandra Day (very cute and words on only the first and last page) or something by Helen Oxenbury (large simple pictures of babies with very few words) or The Rooster Struts by Richard Scarry (very nice animal illustrations)
posted by metahawk at 7:42 AM on August 12, 2008

Response by poster: Sorry if I'm over-thinking this, but won't it seem strange for your mother to have a gift at the ready if the guests are surprising her? Why not pick out a gift for you to give to them upon arrival, since you're already in on the surprise, and then let your mom pick out her own gift while they're here?

amyms, I know my mom and she'd totally panic if she didn't have a gift to give within the first 24 hours of their arrival. We'll handle the part to minimize the strangeness, but she's going to need something to give to them.
posted by GamblingBlues at 7:46 AM on August 12, 2008

won't it seem strange for your mother to have a gift at the ready if the guests are surprising her?

I presume Gambling Blues plans to slip it to her discreetly after the initial excitement of the surprise wears off. I'm sure the student won't expect a gift, since he knows it's a surprise visit, but I figured GB is doing this because not having a gift to give will detract from the mom's joy of the surprise. I think it's nice that GB is being thoughtful of his/her mom's feelings.
posted by boomchicka at 7:56 AM on August 12, 2008

A blanket with the child's name embroidered has been my favourite gift for all my children. My have all been handmade so if you do not know a sewer/quilter you may want to visit a high-end quilt shop to enquire about local small businesspeople.

Since they are not American, American themed toys? Toy Fords/GM cars? Not plastic, but metal cars. A teddy bear (or a gift certificate to Build-a-Bear since they would probably like the experience that is not available e in Norway -i think- and it is something your mom can do with them).

Instead of board books, you can also give a classy picture book that your mother can write on the endpapers (can't do that with board books).

You might want to have a little supply of baby wipes, diapers and burp cloths on hand, just in case you need them.
posted by saucysault at 8:21 AM on August 12, 2008

What about something like this or this?
posted by mothershock at 8:28 AM on August 12, 2008

Could you get baby gear from a local university or sports team? (Actually, the ideal thing would be baby gear from the school that the exchange student attended, but I suspect that high schools don't do baby gear.) A lot of universities sell bibs, onesies, or teddy bears wearing the school t-shirt, and I've seen similar stuff from pro sports teams.
posted by craichead at 8:33 AM on August 12, 2008

Robert Sabuda is a Michigan author that makes some wonderful pop-up books for children... the kind of book you hand down from generation to generation...
posted by HuronBob at 8:40 AM on August 12, 2008

I second metahawk's suggestion, but would also add in one for the parents if you know their reading tastes. Not sure about Norway, but in some European countries books are way more expensive than here.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:43 AM on August 12, 2008

A Waldorf doll? I imagine you could find them at most chi-chi children's stores. My daughter has two, and they are her favorite toys.

Otherwise, the two gifts I always most appreciate getting are books and also clothing. The seasons series by Gerda Muller has been a big hit at my house (no words, all pictures). For clothing, Zutano makes cute, funky outfits. Pediped makes wonderful infant shoes.
posted by Sully6 at 9:12 AM on August 12, 2008

Ooh, a question for me!

I am Norwegian living in the States and also a mother of 3 small kids (my youngest is 4 months old). Don't try to get something they might not have in Norway - believe me when I say to you that they really have just about everything there. My suggestion would be something personalized. Obviously it has to be small and unbreakable so they can stuff it in their luggage.

If you know that they'll be trying to teach the baby English, then baby books would be greatly appreciated (I'm forever asking my Norwegian relatives for things that can help me teach my kids Norwegian). Don't get DVDs or videos as they (probably) won't be able to play them.

I'm so bummed that you don't have time to order anything online, because I do have the perfect suggestion for you (this is what I give all my friends when they have babies): The blanket. Yes, it's a baby blanket and they're guaranteed to already have some, but the level of personalization is amazing - down to pet's names and siblings etc, and the blanket is great quality - just warm enough. It's a great keepsake that we actually use - my girls use theirs at daycare. Already has their name all over it! You can even contact the owner and ask her to custom-make it for you with the names of baby's American 'family' - your mother, you etc. It fits all your criteria, even the price!
posted by widdershins at 9:21 AM on August 12, 2008

I once bought a music box for a baby gift. It had a charming tune, and his parents would play it for him as he fell asleep. Now the baby is 15, and the music box sits on his "treasure" shelf in his bedroom.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 9:53 AM on August 12, 2008

I loooove these blankets. Love. You can get them in stores, you may have to call around to some baby boutiques. We use them all the time, even though my triplets are too old to be swaddled.
posted by pyjammy at 11:48 AM on August 12, 2008

Perhaps a little baby sweat suit from the University of Michigan? Of course, since I hail from a rival Big-Ten school, I always like to see people spitting up on Michigan.

A more appropriate gift might be some lightweight baby clothes. Depending on their location in Norway, it might not be nearly as warm as it will be in a Michigan Summer.
posted by 26.2 at 1:10 PM on August 12, 2008 [1 favorite]

I would get a very nice First Christmas ornament. You can get a crystal or sterling silver one for about $50. Have it personalized with your Mom's and the baby's name. It is small enough to travel well and something that they will use and think about her every year. If they don't celebrate Christmas, maybe you can do something similar with something that they do celebrate.
posted by pearlybob at 1:23 PM on August 12, 2008

If you're kind of crafty, I've found a sweet baby gift can be made very easily by getting a pair of very simple baby sneakers -- plain white canvas ones, like Keds -- and then painting them all sorts of fun colors with simple acryllic paints. They may even make fabric paint in magic-marker form. And the time I tried that, I think the sneakers were all of seven bucks.

You don't even have to make any recognizeable design on them -- just follow the construction of the sneakers and make the toes one color, the tongue another, the left side a third, the right side a fourth, etc., and the fact that they're cute and little and brightly colored and hand-decorated will go a long way in the "impressive" factor.

Plus -- they're small, so they can be discreetly hidden until the surprise comes out and then easily tucked into a carryon for the trip back to Norway.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:47 PM on August 12, 2008

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