Acquiring citizenship is one of the proudest and most memorable moments for many non-native-born Americans. “It’s a unique, very special feeling. It was nearly 20 years ago… It is the most important thing I’ve ever done in my life… As I remember that day, I still bask a little in its glory… “, recalls a woman who took her oath many years ago in Pennsylvania. As a friend, colleague or neighbor of someone who is about to receive or has just received their American citizenship, you might be thinking of a way to congratulate them. A dinner or a round of drinks might be on the top of your head (like most people), but if you’re looking for something more lasting and impactful, you can try and give them a special new citizen gift.
A new citizen gift is a combination of a welcome and a congratulatory gift. If you aren’t sure what to give your friend, you can take cues from their hobbies or other things they are interested in. Keep it patriotic to carry on the “American” theme. Common gift ideas include flags, copies of important national documents like the Declaration of Independence and CD albums of patriotic hymns. Some gift-givers choose clothing, mugs or bumper stickers stamped with patriotic messages and symbols.
Unique Gift Ideas
For a more memorable present, try something different from the norm. After all, something as important as acquiring citizenship requires something equally grand. To make it worth your friend’s while, try the following gift suggestions:
Apple pie in a beautiful pie plate. The epitome of American desserts, the apple pie could be the best all-season, one-size-fits-all present you could give. If you could bake it yourself, use a pie plate that has an Americana motif. Once you’ve turned it over to your friend, however, make sure that you don’t ask for the plate back-let them keep it.
For something more “permanent”, you could get them a cookbook on American pies and desserts.
An organic fruit basket. Organic fruit baskets are like hitting two birds with one stone: they are delicious, and let’s face it, trendy. Organic food gets tossed around often these days, and no less than big names such as Angelina Jolie, Martha Stewart, Michelle Obama and Prince Charles are staunch advocates. It is said to be more delicious, healthful, eco-friendly, and perhaps more appealing because of its association with “upscale-ness.” However you feel about it, always remember that you can never go wrong with good food. That should be reason enough to go for organic food. (Hint: the pineapple was a symbol of hospitality during the colonial period.)
American history books and documentaries. To get your friend deeply grounded into the American psyche, why not educate them on the country’s history? Most titles focus on specific periods, and the best ones include “1776” by David McCullough, “John Adams” (an HBO mini-series) and the History Channel’s “America: the Story of Us.”
A tree sapling. A tree sapling can be a great reminder of the different stages of your friend’s new life in America-from establishing their roots on new soil to weathering storms and bearing fruit. Don’t forget to include instructions on proper care.
A trip to the firing range. This gift idea plays on the stereotype that just about anyone in America can own a gun. Almost literally a baptism of fire, it can also serve as a way for your friend to unwind and release all stress from work (welcome to America, a place where most people have two to three jobs). Proceed with caution, however, as it could come off as more offensive than humorous. Save this for those who have a more positive view towards owning firearms.