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Sep 29, 2013 12:01 PM

What can I send as a "Thanks for your hospitality" gift?

My husband and I just returned from a trip to Italy. One of the highlights of our trip was a visit to the winery that produces our favorite Prosecco. The visit had been somewhat pre-arranged by someone who works at the wine store where I shop. After he established the contact for me, I communicated directly with the owners of the winery to finalize the details of our visit. I knew we'd be welcomed, and introduced to their wine-making operation, but what we never anticipated was that we'd be invited to join the family for lunch in their home.

We were positively overwhelmed by the graciousness of this wonderful family. Lunch was a 5-course feast, with everything homemade and most of the ingredients either raised, grown or foraged by family members -- and four different Proseccos were poured to pair with the food. I felt like I was in a scene from a movie -- we were strangers when we arrived, but three generations of this Italian wine-making family welcomed us like old friends. And when it was finally time to leave, they presented us with a beautiful book about Italian sparkling wines with a lovely personal inscription, and signed by all but the youngest family members.

Now that we're home, I want to send a thank-you note and gift, but I have no idea what to send. I thought about a book depicting scenes from and descriptions of the area where I live, but only three of the family members speak or understand English, so I'm not sure how appropriate that would be. I thought, too, about something they could all enjoy at home -- a pretty serving piece, maybe. If there was a local artisan whose work I admired, that would be great, but I don't know of anyone offhand (I live in the suburbs of Philadelphia). I'd love to send something that in some way reflects my home area, but I'm lost for ideas.

What would YOU send if you were me? Thanks!!!

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  1. That sounds amazing! I think your idea of a hand-made serving piece is a great one. It seems you ought to be able to find such a thing in any sort of "tourist" area-- I'm thinking New Hope, for example (I'm in NY, but have visited that area). Or isn't there a nice little town along the river in Philly, begins with an M? Certainly whenever I'm in a resort town there is no lack of places wanting to sell me things like that! Or are there some large farmer's markets or craft fairs that attract those sorts of artists? Then perhaps add some local products-- jams or honey, pickles, etc-- the shipping will set you back, but this seems like a worthy thing to spend the money on!

    ETA: Manayunk was what I was thinking of

    1. i would certainly send something locally made so you can share something 'from your table'... as well as something that shares something about your hometown historically.

      1. What a lovely experience you had Cindy. I'd likely be thinking along the same lines you are and leaning towards a gift with a nod to something you know they enjoy - entertaining.

        I don't think you need to limit your options to your home state as I think anything from the US would be appreciated.

        I'd likely source something online at a museum store so you can have it wrapped and shipped direct and not have to worry about breakage. When I travel I like to pick up cutting boards and serving pieces made from wood indigenous to the area so that would be one idea I'd consider. Though table linens are also great as a gift, Italian linens are so exquisite I wouldn't bother in this case. Since Italy is known for it's design what about a uniquely designed gift from the US?

        This US made espresso set caught my eye:

        1. That sounds like a fabulous afternoon (next time you head to Italy, can I com?)

          I like the idea of a serving piece from a local artisan. Not sure where outside of Philly you are, but you could take a stroll through Skippack or New Hope--both have a few shops that specialize in local artisans' wares. Or you could always take a day trip one weekend to Wheaton Village and browse their collection of artisan glass (I know, I know, Italy has some fine glass of their own).

          Also, keep an eye out for local arts festivals. The Lansdale one was last month, but I think MCCC should be coming up and last year I got a beautiful hand-blown glass vase and got mom a lovely tureen from a local potter. It seems there are a good number of artisans in this area and--as my cabinets, curios, walls and shelves can attest--most of these shows/festivals feature a fair number of glass artists, potters, woodworkers, printmakers, etc.

          1. CindyJ, I don't want to rain on your parade, but ..... I have friends who live in Italy. They ask that we never send them anything in the mail.
            1. They must pay duty on gifts and pretty much anything is considered a gift.
            2. It likely will never arrive. Whether it is lost, mis-directed, grows legs and walks away -- 9 times out of 10, they never see it.

            I have never inquired about UPS, DHL or the like but learned my lesson with mailing.

            Perhaps you might write a lovely "thank you" note inquiring about the best way to send something. My guess is that the internet will be the way to go; something they can redeem in Italy without the vaguaries of mailing. I wish you all the luck since you so obviously want to do something nice for these lovely people. Please let us know what you decide.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Sherri

              :( good advice...even if it crushe my image of the family happily opening a box from the nice american family and enjoying some "real american " treat.