Bringing a gift for the BF’s parents

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I recently received an email via our brother site, (where I write a bitchin’ advice column), and it seemed like a better fit for our full clutch readers.  Here’s Christina’s plea:

Hi Beth,

I will soon be traveling from Texas to South Africa to meet my boyfriend’s parents as well as attend his brother’s wedding. I have no idea what to bring to them as a host gift and what to bring the bride and groom. His parents aren’t big drinkers so the typical bottle of wine is out of the question. I’m pretty sure that I can bring a good American wine for the B&G, right? Or should I find out what they’re registered for or will a simple card do? I’m 24 years-old and have only had one good encounter with “meeting the parents”. I just want to leave a good impression, as the girl from the States :)



Meeting the parents–is there a more anxiety-inducing event out there?  Well, probably, but this ranks pretty high anyway.  The fact that you even know to bring a host gift is a huge bonus.  It is a tradition that is falling by the wayside, sadly.  Host gifts are typically small trinkets of appreciation for a person or family hosting you in their home for a meal or an overnight.  In the States, we might bring a bottle of wine or a bouquet of flowers.  In your situation, though, a bottle of wine is not the ideal gift, as you so wisely deduced.  Since this is an international visit, why not bring something special from your home town, or the great state of Texas?  Barbecue sauce or hot peppers or a bauble of some kind that represents the place you grew up.  You could even make a small basket of these goods and tie it up with a nice ribbon.

For the bride and groom?  I don’t think you should bother with transporting wine–it’s a pain in the butt and there’s always the possibility that the bottle will explode in the non-pressurized cargo hold.  What you should bring instead depends upon a couple factors–how long have you been dating this guy? Is it serious (I assume it is, you’re flying to South Africa)?  Do you already have a relationship with his brother and his brother’s fiance?

If I were the bride, I wouldn’t expect anything from you, at 24 years old, flying halfway across the world to attend my wedding, besides maybe a sweet card.  I mean, this is going to be an expensive trip even if you have a place to stay.  But I do understand wanting to make a good impression, so if you feel like you can’t show up without a gift, go straight to the registry and buy something simple.  If you don’t know the bride and groom well, as I assume you don’t, it’s dangerous buying a gift off the cuff–you have no idea what they like or need.

Besides bringing these gifts, just remember to express your appreciation and be as easy a house guest as possible.  Also, your boyfriend will probably have a lot of responsibilities during this trip, so let him be with his family, attend to wedding party duties, and so forth, without being clingy.


Abort mission.

Oh…do NOT drink too much at the wedding.  Alternate every alcoholic beverage you have with a glass of water.  Eat a good dinner.  And cut yourself off before you get sloshed and find yourself telling your boyfriend’s mother that he’s good in bed.


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