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notyouraverageturkey

Gift on Visit?

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notyouraverageturkey

Hi all. I'm going on a week-long visit with a community that I have a good deal of interest in. I'm curious if it would be appropriate to bring a gift, such as a nice bottle of wine or rum, for the sisters. What do you think? If not what would you suggest instead? For reference, the community I am visiting is in the US, but has roots in Europe, and I am from Puerto Rico. For me it seems like I should bring them something, but I do not want to put them off with a gift of wine or good rum. 

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JHFamily

A gift is nice, though certainly not necessary.  I would forego the wine or rum unless you are certain that they use these items.  Since you are traveling from afar, I would rather suggest maybe a basket with nuts, dried fruit, and bite-size sweets, etc. or a set or two of stationary (esp. Catholic-themed) and stamps (which would pack very nicely).   Also, the suggestions may be better if you could identify what kind of community you are visiting (cloistered/active, small/large, etc.).  A gift the novitiate could use would be nice, too.

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Dymphna

I like to bring chocolates or some other sweets. Depending on the community, the sisters may not buy such "luxuries" for themselves, so they will be much appreciated. If you are going soon you want to take into account that they may not eat sweets in advent, so you should bring something which will keep for some time. A bottle of wine might also be a good idea (if the community is not too big for a single bottle :-)). With rum I would be more careful, like JHFamily suggested, unless you know they will be able to use it. But most importantly, it's the thought that counts! :-)

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Lilllabettt
4 hours ago, Dymphna said:

I like to bring chocolates or some other sweets. Depending on the community, the sisters may not buy such "luxuries" for themselves, so they will be much appreciated. If you are going soon you want to take into account that they may not eat sweets in advent, so you should bring something which will keep for some time. A bottle of wine might also be a good idea (if the community is not too big for a single bottle :-)). With rum I would be more careful, like JHFamily suggested, unless you know they will be able to use it. But most importantly, it's the thought that counts! :-)

I 2nd sweets, stamps,  or wine. Maybe if you got them rum you could attach a recipie that uses rum in case they dont drink it. Also. Coffee. It would be unusual if they dont have a coffee maker and in my experience religious drink a ton of it.

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Nunsuch

I think stamps are probably not a great idea, because most religious are concerned about sustainability, and are using paper as little as possible. But ask them. Most communities also get more in the way of sweets than they can possibly (and healthily!) handle. Can you ask someone what they might need?  

I give one contemplative community a monthly subscription to Netflix, because they have a "movie night" for recreation once a week, and this is much appreciated. Other communities like books for their library, but if you are not sure what they have, a gift certificate to a nearby store or online bookseller is always good. 

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JHFamily

Again, it is important to consider the community when deciding on a gift.  My contemplative nun daughter absolutely needs stamps and stationary because snail mail is the only way her community communicates outside of their monastery, and they never watch movies nor drink wine.  However, they keep the sweets and parcel them out slowly.  Sugar lasts forever!  So that's why I say it is important to look closely at the community that you are visiting and make decisions based on that.  It's just not possible to suggest something appropriate for all communities because they are so different.

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beatitude

I agree with JHFamily. On the pivotal visit when I requested my entrance I ate almost all the cookies in the jar the sisters set out for me (I was ravenous after my journey!). I apologised, feeling a bit guilty that now they wouldn't have any sweet treats for themselves. One sister stepped over to a floor-to-ceiling cupboard, flung open the door to reveal a teetering tower of cookie boxes, and said, "No. Help us. Please eat them!" People had been constantly giving the sisters sweet things, in the belief that they never had any at all, and the sisters couldn't eat them fast enough to keep up with the influx of donations. So definitely check that your nuns haven't got a sweets stockpile that will last them until Armageddon before you buy them anything. ;)

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Dymphna

Oh, obviously the only community I know well enough to be informed about their cookie supply status doesn't have enough well-meaning supporters ;)

On the other hand, their wine cellar (which I haven't seen) may be well stocked thanks to said supporters :rolleyes:

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notyouraverageturkey

Thanks for the advice all. They are an active community, and the house I’m visiting is rather small (15 sisters currently there). 

30 minutes ago, gloriana35 said:

European communities have no Calvinist/Jansenist obsession with alcohol. They'd enjoy the wine.

Thank God! I find the American Christian avoidance of alcohol is a bit... ignorant. My thought is maybe a nice book (I have a 1945 Basic Writings of Thomas Aquino that I’ll probably give) and a middle grade bottle of wine. 

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gloriana35

I shall add - for some reason, if anyone gives food to a community, it tends to be sweets. That's the only item of which they have more than they need. If you wish to bring a food item (... though the same sort of superior I mentioned earlier may put it aside for priests...), it's best it be 'real food,' perhaps some nice cheeses and fruits (...lovely with wine.) 

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Sister Leticia
4 hours ago, gloriana35 said:

(... though the same sort of superior I mentioned earlier may put it aside for priests...)

Might this sort of superior be thwarted if the gift is wrapped in pink paper and has a HUGE label addressed to the sisters indelibly stuck on the gift items themselves?

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Bonkira

I've tried to gift things that they might not get regularly that are not candy/sweets. Nice tea, coffee (even if the community doesn't do caffeine, visitors and priests will), a few cases of SanPellegrino sparkling drinks in a fancy flavor, fun baking mixes (cheddar biscuits were a hit!), popcorn, etc. Regional specialties from where you are from might be nice and a nice way for them to continue to get to know you. If something with alcohol would be welcome, I bet they'd like a bottle of coquito!

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notyouraverageturkey
11 hours ago, Bonkira said:

 If something with alcohol would be welcome, I bet they'd like a bottle of coquito! 

Coquito is delicious, and my abuela makes it very good, but it will not be good for travel. It needs to stay cold and I would be worried about it leaking. Maybe I’ll get to make it for them in the future!

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