Welcome Home Gifts

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For many people, being away from home is a way of life, whether because of business travel obligations, an insatiable wanderlust, military duty, or any number of other reasons. And when you’ve been gone for a long time, nothing feels better than being welcomed back home in a thoughtful way that really makes you feel missed. Great gifts aren’t about breaking the bank, and this is especially true with welcome home gifts. After weeks or months of being rootless, sleeping in hotels, conversing with strangers, or otherwise feeling out of place, what many people need is to come back to a sense of belonging. For others, it’s about trying to get back into a normal home routine after a long disruption. It’s not always an easy transition. Luckily, you have choices. From the practical to the sentimental, here are seven gifts that will make someone who’s been away feel extra good to be back.

Finding good food while on the road can be difficult, but there is also a big convenience factor in having someone else cook every meal for you. If they’ve been away for a long time, it may be hard to adjust to the conventional home routine of buying and preparing their own food. Meal delivery services like Blue Apron are a nice midway point: you prepare the food yourself, but you have high-quality ingredients delivered right to your door, and detailed, easy-to-follow directions (even for someone who doesn’t cook) on how to turn them into something delicious. This is an especially great choice for someone who lives alone or is returning to a home without a resident chef.

Travel can really take a physical toll, especially when you’re sleeping in hotel beds (or hostel beds, which are even worse), as these tend to have the same effect on your body as getting run over by a small truck. For chronic travelers and nomads of all kinds, a day of special attention and pampering is often the best way to set things back in place and decompress. The physical and psychological soothings of a spa visit are great for business travelers, who deal with a heavy dose of stress along with the physical punishment of being on the road. A gift card from SpaFinder offers flexibility and choice, since it can be used at thousands of locations. This is the kind of gift that will make them melt with gratitude.

Many recreational travelers have an insatiable desire to collect experiences like badges of honor. Areas of the map that remain unvisited often haunt them like an ill-advised twitter rant. This personalized travel map lets them mark off the corners of the earth they’ve already conquered, as well as letting them keep tabs on the territory that yet whispers to them in their dreams. The ultimate visual representation of wanderlust.

This one is an old classic, and it’s a classic for a reason. If they’ve been roughing it for a while, this will be better than a basket full of gold (and cheaper, too). Gift Tree offers a huge range of choices, so whether they would prefer a basket of fruit, meat and cheese, chocolate, bath and body care products, or other personal favorites, you can put together something that they’ll not only love, but that will prove that there’s someone waiting back home who really knows them.

This one is very DIY, but it’s also the most personalized. If someone very important to you (like a significant other) has been away for a long time, you’ve probably been corresponding through letters, emails, texts, or some other indirect means. If you really want to show them how much they’re missed, put together a scrapbook of your long-distance conversations in a way that reads like a story. Pepper it with some photos of yourselves or of things that were happening in your lives at specific points along the way to make it even more poignant. Companies like Smilebox and Mixbook offer online digital scrapbooking services, and allow you to create professionally bound hard copies as well. This is a great way to chronicle all of the time, sacrifice, and faith that you’ve invested in a relationship that’s important enough to both of you to survive a long separation.

You could argue that being on top of the food chain for hundreds of thousands of years has made us jaded. After all that time, we’ve gotten to the point where we expect to be able to eat everything. In this sense, a bouquet of flowers just isn’t going to cut it. It’s a nice sentimental gesture, which earns you some points for sure. But what the recipient will never tell you is that they are secretly resentful for being given something inedible. Stop giving gifts that only check some of the “great gift” boxes. Go all the way with Edible Arrangements.

Soup is perhaps the ultimate comfort food. It’s warm, delicious, and satisfying to all the senses. But great soup is hard to come by, and chicken noodle out of a can just isn’t going to cut it for someone you really care about. Luckily, there are kind people out there who have dedicated themselves to taking care of this problem. Soup kitchens for the needy are a staple of societal goodwill, and they still have their place. But thanks to the Internet, you can now feed gourmet soup to someone you love, and neither one of you even has to get off your tuchus.

This may sound like the worst idea ever (except for mail order ice cream), but hear us out. These are amazing. Some of the best cupcakes on the planet, packed into jars to keep them fresh. A normal cupcake has a shelf life of about 8 minutes before it starts its rapid decline toward dog food. Seal it in a jar, on the other hand, and you could ship it to Jupiter. Pure delicious genius.

The last thing anyone wants to do upon arriving home after a long time away is go to the grocery store. It’s enough to push anyone over the edge. So instead of letting them sit there and starve, get them a gift card to Instacart. Instacart is like having a personal grocery butler, or something like that. The gift card recipient just has to tell the little digital grocery elves what they want, and the next thing they know, it’s at their front door. Then all they have to do is chow down and reflect on what great friends they have.

People care a lot more about labels than they let on. Like the Coke/Pepsi conundrum, changing the label on a product always makes it taste different. So imagine how great wine (which is already fantastic) will taste to someone if you put a personalized label on it. As Dale Carnegie said, “A person's name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” Well, as it turns out, the sweetest wine is the one with your name on it as well.

If you really want to make this a magical gift, dress for the part. But you might want to be careful who you offer this to, because you might find yourself on the wrong end of some strange requests. We’re not trying to scare you away from the idea - we’re just suggesting you pick someone who has a reasonable sense of boundaries. But other than that small concern, this is a great way to really show a special someone what a devoted friend you are!

Nothing screams “My life is better than yours!” more than riding around in a limo. It is one of the truly elite representations of material wealth and luxury. But what most people don’t realize is that it’s not that expensive if you only do it every once in a while. It’s all about the image. So roll out the red carpet for that special person who’s been away for too long, and let them see how the other side lives for a change. Then you can go back to treating them like you normally do so their head doesn’t get too big.

Coming back home to a barren house can be kind of depressing. One of the best ways to brighten up any surroundings is to add some life - literally. Just make sure that it’s low maintenance, especially if it’s for a frequent traveller. Air plants are as low maintenance as a brick wall (almost), needing no soil and only once-a-week watering, so just about anyone can manage not to kill one of these.