Japanese Host Family Gifts — An Update

by Katy on April 17, 2010 · 11 comments

I wrote a few weeks ago about the challenge of finding gifts (“omiyage”) for my son’s Japanese host family that would neither clutter up their home, nor set me back an arm and a leg. To have these gifts be locally grown or produced was also a goal, as I have no interest is giving gifts that are cheaply produced in another country. I really don’t like items that are produced for the souvenir market, so my foray into the Made in Oregon store was short indeed. Anything heavy or breakable was also out of the question.

A tall order? You betcha!

Here’s what I ended up buying:

  • Handmade tote bag from my neighbor and co-worker Lorraine: $15
  • Two handmade fabric sandwich/snack wraps, also from Lorraine. $8
  • Handmade tea cozy made with vintage linens that read “Friendship warms the heart” and “Love is the heart in blossom” from my mother. Free!
  • Two boxes of Tazo tea, which is a local company. $6.40
  • One package of naturally wild “Premium Smoked Salmon.” $3.50
  • Three bars of Dagoba organic chocolate in the Chai flavor. $4.50
  • One package of roasted Oregon hazelnuts and one of dried blueberries from Bob’s Red Mill. $11.50
  • One Oregon T-shirt with a green heart in the center. $15
  • One handmade Elvis Presley card holder from a local shop $11

The last two items are for the 9th grade host sister, the rest is for sharing. I know I may have gone overboard, but I know from experience what a huge commitment it is to host other people’s children. When I have done it, I end up taking an entire week off from work.

I used a half-off coupon for the blueberries from my Chinook book, (thank you Lindy!) and bought the salmon and chocolate at the Grocery Outlet, using a Chinook Book coupon as well.

In all I spent $74.90, which is a fair chunk of change. But I feel like I chose great gifts that will be both appreciated and enjoyed. This is a situation where being a non-consumer and being cheap definitely do not intersect. But my son will spend a week with this family, and I’m sure they’ll spend much more than $75 on him.

So arigato gozaimasu Japanese family whose name I don’t know. (The information is written in Japanese) Enjoy my son, and take good care of him.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without”

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Marie-Josée April 17, 2010 at 2:25 pm

Great gifts Katy. I know many Japanese are a fan of Elvis, and I think that will be a hit, as well as the salmon, hazelnuts and blueberries. Hope your son has a wonderful time. Kunichiwa!


Karen April 17, 2010 at 2:46 pm

Katy, this is a great bunch of items for your host family. Love all the Oregonian stuff! And you’re right, they will be spending more than that on your son during his week for sure. We have hosted choir members from Australia and the U K, and it IS a big time/cash commitment, albeit one which has proven to be very satisfying. I hope he and his host family have a blast!


tammy April 18, 2010 at 4:06 am

Katy, I love that you valued this family, your son’s honor and his visit with such meaningful items. There’s a time and place for frugality and this was NOT it!
Kudos to you!


Katy April 18, 2010 at 8:05 am

I actually really like figuring out gifts for people, and always have. This used to be buying brand new stuff, which has morphed into what you see above.

My son leaves tomorrow, and I’m very excited for him.



Kristen@TheFrugalGirl April 18, 2010 at 10:47 am

Oooooh, Tazo (Chai, especially) is the best in the whole wide world! 🙂


Hiptobeme April 18, 2010 at 2:14 pm

What wonderfully thoughtful gifts, I am certain they will be appreciated!


Klara Le Vine April 18, 2010 at 7:59 pm

Don’t forget the gifts your son will be bringing that can’t be put to a money value – all the upbringing that you have put into your son will be shared with this family – that will be the most valuable, priceless. I look forward to hearing of his experience. Maybe it’s a silly impression but I have the impression that the Japanese know how to appreciate and value all good things.


Angela April 21, 2010 at 3:03 pm

Katy, I absolutely love your choices. Such wonderful gifts- functional, and beautiful too! They will be appreciated and used, I’m sure.

Thanks for giving us an update!


Robbie Kay April 23, 2010 at 12:43 pm

Are Lorraine’s items sold in any Portland/Vancouver area stores?


Katy April 23, 2010 at 12:47 pm

Sorry, Lorraine just sells her stuff to friends.



Sheree Burlington June 11, 2010 at 1:27 pm

Hi Katy – The next time you need a special gift, please take a look at Museware Pottery. Our personalized gifts are one of a kind and are loved by those who receive them. I know that this is shameless self promotion, but I really believe our cool stuff rocks the gift market.
Best – Sheree


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: