Gifts: Thinking Outside of the Box

Babushka Dolls, Riga, Latvia, Baltic States, Europe by Yadid Levy

We are getting ready for a trip back to the US in a couple of months, and are in the process of thinking of gifts to bring back for friends, family, supporters. I love giving gifts, but we’ve run into the problem where the variety of souvenirs available to us is limited, and where we’ve already given everyone back “home” the traditional gifts that we think would be most enjoyed. We’ve started thinking outside of the box to find fun, inexpensive gifts that people might enjoy. Here are some not-so-traditional souvenirs that we’ve come up with:

-Old used books with cool covers. They make a good mantle piece and are inexpensive, though are unfortunately a bit on the heavy side.

-Newspapers and magazines. I especially like the idea of bringing back magazines for people similar to the ones that they would read in English. I would love to receive a parenting or home decorating magazine in a language/culture that I am unfamiliar with!

-A family photo at a significant monument or framed by the unique scenery in which you live.

-A photo capturing natural or cultural beauty unique to where you live.

-A church bulletin

-A small cookbook with pictures of traditional dishes

-Interesting foods that you can’t get in the US (ex: caviar chips, fish-jerky…)

split-pants3-Traditional clothing. I love how there is often beautiful clothing unique to each culture! My personal favorite on the more humorous side of this category was receiving a pair of “split-pants” from China for my baby girl. For those who are unfamiliar with split-pants, they are pants with a large slit in the rear so babies don’t have to wear diapers but can easily squat down to go the bathroom when needed without you having to rush to get their pants off in time.

-Children’s picture books. We have a beautiful picture Bible here that is perfect!

-CDs of traditional music or Christian music if you have recordings available in the native language.

-Bookmarks and postcards with Bible verses in the native language.

-Have a friend write out their testimony in their own language and provide and English translation. Include a picture of them as well. This could be especially encouraging to supporters if the testimony is related to the ministry that they are faithfully supporting.

-A recipe card with a traditional dish and the accompanying American measurements. Include a picture if you have the time.

-Cool empty jars or containers that might look decorative and add some nice foreign flare to an American home. You can also use them to protect fragile items that you are trying to transport back to US safely.

-A short video of your friends and those you minister to saying hello and perhaps sharing a brief  ministry testimony.

-Laminated pressed flowers native to your region.

And the list goes on…. feel free to share your ideas!

(art used with permission from


2 Responses to “Gifts: Thinking Outside of the Box”

  1. 1 Ana Degenaar March 5, 2009 at 7:23 pm

    I love the idea about the books!… the nesting dolls are so pretty!!!
    I like to give “rag-dolls” almost every country in the world has their own version and it’s nice to explain your kids where they came from or what they’re wearing… my daughter already has 4 from different countries… “TEA” is another thing you’ll find in every country and they have different flavors and versions…

  2. 2 K March 8, 2009 at 3:46 am

    I vote for little unique treats from the area like HALVA…ah hmmmm, hint hint, hint. Photos are great though too with your dear friends and family are so far away. I love getting pictures especially current ones. SMILE 🙂

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