Gift Ideas Needed for an Author . . . My Cousin

lynninnewmexicoAugust 8, 2014

DH & I will be flying up to Portland later this month for a 4-day weekend at a golf resort on the coast. My cousin and her husband are meeting us for lunch one day while we're there. I haven't seen her since we were kids together in Michigan, although we keep in touch through occasional emails and letters. My cousin is a very successful children's book author and college professor. I'm fairly certain that we'll be gifted with one of her latest books, as she has sent me copies of several of them in the past and knows how special they are to me. I would love to come up with a gift idea for her ~or her and her husband. I need your help as I'm coming up blank!

Please help me think of something for her/ them that is easily transportable on a plane. We will be checking two pieces of luggage, so it could possibly go in one of them. I have absolutely no idea what their home looks like, so a decorative something is out. Indian pots and the like are NOT for anyone who doesn't have that type of home. I don't know if either of them drink wine, so I'm not sure about bringing along a great bottle of New Mexico wine. I'm also not sure if it would safely make the journey there in a checked bag!

I've thought about buying them one of my favorite Christmas books (written for children and adults alike) by NM author, Rudolfo Anaya, and then hunting him down to sign it to them, but I'm not sure I could make that happen in time. If I could, what do you think of that gift? Another idea would be a small piece of our local Nambe, which is made of a special silver metal alloy that retains heat and cold wonderfully, but in something that doesn't look Southwestern. Perhaps a small serving bowl.

I would really love to hear any and all ideas you might have. BTW, my cousin is in her mid-60's, and is very warm, down-to-earth and totally not caught up by her literary success.

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The book, though very nice, is maybe a little too "coals to Newcastle." I think you can buy Nambe pieces everywhere, so maybe not so special, but I think something handcrafted in NM would be very nice, as long as it doesn't "scream" Southwestern. Are there any special artisan shops in your area?

    Bookmark   August 8, 2014 at 2:59PM
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Do you know anything about what they like to eat or if they like to cook? If so, could you put together some southwestern spice collections and foods that would transport easily? Maybe wrap them in a cute handmade towel. Working with several people in years past from Albuquerque, that was always a welcome gift. Or give them along with some special recipes you along with the ingredients or a cookbook from your area.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2014 at 3:24PM
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I would treat them to a nice dinner. Make reservations in advance to go to one of their favorite places.
If you knew your cousin's favorite author, then I could see giving her a book. She gives you her books, so giving her back a book......I'm not seeing it.
Maybe it's just me, but at a certain age, I don't need more stuff.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2014 at 4:07PM
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Do you have any photos from who you were kids? That could be so cute Ina little frame.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2014 at 4:22PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

I like the idea of something artisan...locally crafted...if you can combine that with the practical, that would be best...towels, place mats, mugs, linens...something usable.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2014 at 4:24PM
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Thank you for all the suggestions so quickly!
Hmmm, as Ellen mentioned, I'm trying to stay a way from clutter stuff, as I'm sure that she has a lot of them, as do I. I have no idea if my cousin or her DH enjoy cooking, don't know if they drink alcohol and have no idea what their home looks like. I had no idea that Nambe was sold elsewhere in the country, Joanie. Thanks for mentioning that. I'll cross that off my list of possibilities. I don't have any pics of us together as kids, which would have been a great gift. Darn! Local artisan things/shops around here are mainly Southwestern, Western, Mexican and/or Native American. I will look, though. Perhaps I can find something with sunflowers or another flower on it. Not a tchotchke, though. But, we will definitely pick up the tab at the restaurant. I'm going to mull over all of these suggestions again.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2014 at 5:31PM
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oops, duplicate post

But I did have another idea. When you are in the area, ask the concierge or check out a real nice florist (not FTD stuff, the artsy unusual upscale kind). The day after you meet, send a small bouquet with a note. You'd have to be a real curmudgeon not to like flowers!

Oh and that makes me think of something else. Since this is certainly not an occasion that demands any gift at all, why don't you wait until after you meet. Then, you might get some good ideas from your conversation, and follow up with a gift in the mail. Who doesn't like a surprise package?

This post was edited by mtnrdredux on Sat, Aug 9, 14 at 10:21

    Bookmark   August 8, 2014 at 5:40PM
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What about a piece of jewelry, napkin rings or a small box with turquoise? I know there are some lovely items available that aren't so big as traditional pieces seem to be. I know you said no tabletop litter, but an artisan created box featuring turquoise that is the right size to hold paper clips or other desk items could be a very nice gift.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2014 at 5:45PM
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I was thinking exactly what Mnt was. It takes time to go through old photos and she will know how much you were thinking of her.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2014 at 6:26PM
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I have several pieces of turquoise jewelry that my N.M. relatives have sent me over the years. Fortunately they're not styled like the typical jewelry that so many tourists buy. If you live in the Southwest you probably have the opportunity to wear the more traditional pieces but here in the northeast it would look like I'm dressing up for a costume party.

My favorite pieces have clean lines and lack the ornate silver work or heavy engraving that you see on the Indian pieces. I have a turquoise pendant that's set in a thin silver frame on a dainty silver chain and another necklace that's silver with narrow oblong turquoise beads.

Perhaps you might find something made of silver and/or turquoise that would be suitable. I have a beautiful pen and pencil set that have turquoise barrels. I don't know if you can find something like that locally or not.

This post was edited by maire_cate on Fri, Aug 8, 14 at 21:25

    Bookmark   August 8, 2014 at 7:18PM
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I'm thinking about it from the standpoint of what "I" would like if I were your cousin. Being in the same age bracket, I really don't want any more "stuff", or when I do want something, I want to choose it. I would, however, LOVE to be treated to a very nice dinner. Maybe that's just me though.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2014 at 10:39PM
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FWIW, I actually think buying them dinner in their "town" is a bit awkward and certainly unnecessary. To me, one buys a meal for someone who visits them on their turf, partly really to say "I have a great place to share with you". One also might buy a meal for those who are struggling or lesser off, or junior in some way (young relatives, employees, etc). Or, if one were a houseguest and wanted to reciprocate; or if you golfed at their club.

In the situation you describe, ostensibly you are going a little out of your way and giving up some resort time to spend with them. And, it is their turf. If anyone should pay for the group, it would be them IMHO. I'd be a bit surprised if they did not.

All of this is to say that I think you have no need to do or give anything, even if you expect her to give you a book. (Which is a minor enough gift that it does not require reciprocation). But, if you did want to give something, I would make it small and personal and, unique to your area of the country. If it's small enough, it hardly matters what it is as long as you like it. When a recipient receives a small gift they really can't be burdened by not liking/needing it , etc. And IMHO you live in an area that is unusual and interesting to most; I think something "indigenous" to your area is a perfect. A small bowl or box? Or even a small frame.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 10:13AM
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A small simple picture frame made by an artist from your area with a childhood photo would be very thoughtful. I know you said you have no pictures but perhaps your siblings have one to share?

Otherwise, I find most other things cluttery unless it is something useful like a simple but cool artist made box of some sort that could hide TV remotes or store every day jewelry or keys or eyeglasses or pens & notes in.

This post was edited by jterrilynn on Sat, Aug 9, 14 at 11:55

    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 11:54AM
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You could take a photo of the four of you during the visit, frame it, and send it to her after you return home.

Or bring a small box of local chocolates.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 4:04PM
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Another suggestion - have an exotic floral arrangement sent to her home. You could even do it before you meet for dinner.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 6:03PM
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I think treating someone to dinner in their hometown does seem a little odd. Unless they met at your resort and you put it on your tab?

I agree with the poster above who said, the best solution to finding a gift for someone you know so little about, is to find out about them, first.

Have fun, BTW!

    Bookmark   August 10, 2014 at 12:36PM
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We had a somewhat similar situation with my cousin a few years ago, though not exactly the same. We were visiting his family across the country, but staying in a hotel. When we weren't sleeping, we were at their house, with extended family. I agonized over what to bring them from the Boston area but hadn't seen their house, and hadn't even seen them in years. So I waited, and while we were there I noticed they loved pottery. After I got home, I bought a pretty handmade pottery bowl and shipped it to them with a thank you note.

We just made the same visit a couple of weeks ago and while we were there, DH took some great photos of the lake that is by their house, so we'll enlarge/frame one and send it to them. So maybe you could take a photo of the two of you and send her a copy in a nice frame later...I think someone else also suggested this.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 7:05AM
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More ideas . . . thank you! Unfortunately, we won't be going to their home this trip. Instead, we'll be meeting at a restaurant fairly close to Portland's airport. And, we'll be meeting there for lunch, not dinner, as the resort we're going to is still a 2 1/2 hour drive from there. As I mentioned in a previous post here, we will be treating them to lunch. I still have some time left before our trip and plan to check out a few local shops. Mtnrdredux suggested framing a photo of my cousin and myself as kids. Although I don't have one, I do have a lovely photo of our mutual grandmother, taken for her coming out at age eighteen. I'm thinking of having a copy made, if I can find a similar small frame for it. What do you think?

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 12:28PM
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I love the idea of a copy of that photo as a gift. And I'm not someone who wants gifts or to collect more things. But I'd like an old pic of a family member.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 1:49PM
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Fabulous, you must must give the photo!

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 2:03PM
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Thank you, Mtn, I will then. And thanks again for the idea.

The reason I mentioned that my cousin was a children's book author is that I wanted everyone to take that into consideration and not suggest a book. Or, perhaps, to come up with something (I have no idea what!) that an author might appreciate. But, I do think that a framed photo of our beautiful grandmother, who died when I was four and my cousin was eight will be something she will treasure.

Hhireno, I'm right there with you! The last thing I want or need are more dust catchers! More stuff in general, actually! With your and Mtn's votes to go for it, I feel happy and relieved. Thank you!

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 6:42PM
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