Gift Ideas: 8 Presents That Are Uniquely Philly

How to send a piece of home to an out-of-towner.

A customer of mine from Denver visited me in Philadelphia recently and hired my company for a good project. I want to send him a thank-you gift—something uniquely Philadelphia. Anyone got any ideas? Please don’t suggest something lame like this silly gift box. (Keystone Crunch Popcorn Mix? Melrose Diner Butter Cookies? Does anyone actually go to the Melrose Diner for anything but breakfast at 2 a.m.?) Nothing related to cheesesteaks or pretzels or Tastykakes either please. Too trite. And nothing from the historical area, particularly anything commemorating that ridiculous, taxpayer-funded Bruce Springsteen exhibit at the Constitution Center. I realize that Little Steven sometimes wears an American flag bandana, but really, what does Bruce have to do with the Constitution?

I want something really uniquely, typically Philadelphia. And business-professional too. I’ve come up with a few of my own ideas for starters.

1. Out-of-town sports tickets with a Philadelphia team playing. I like this customer, so I could get him tickets for when the Flyers are in his hometown to play the Avalanche. The Flyers represent our city well nowadays. I don’t like him well enough to pony up the cash for Eagles-Broncos tickets. And I don’t dislike the guy. Otherwise I’d make him suffer through a Phillies game like so many of us have this summer.

2. A DVD of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (Season 3). Probably one of the funniest shows ever, and about as true a portrait of our citizens and city as likely to ever be captured on film. I prefer Season 3 because a) Danny DeVito used the prior season (his first) to get warmed up, b) Fred Savage directs four episodes, and I’ve always been a fan of the Wonder Years, and c) the gang tries out for the Eagles and solves the North Korean crisis, which are both on my bucket list.

3. A Cholly-San t-shirt from Philly Phaithful. Sure, most of us are frustrated with the Phillies this year, but we’ll never be angry with Charlie Manuel. The guy’s a legend here now. Just this past year alone I’ve watched him sit and talk baseball with fans at both the Philadelphia and Chicago airports prior to taking his economy class seat on flights I was on. The guy’s a boss. And why not celebrate his Japan years? My customer will be the only person in Denver wearing that shirt, and he better wear it proudly.

4. A Temple university sweatshirt. No, not Penn. I realize they’re the city’s largest employer and an Ivy League school, but I don’t want to draw attention to the fact that my kids aren’t smart enough to go there. Plus the students at Penn are only in Philadelphia for a brief time before heading out to plunder companies on Wall Street or outsource jobs to China. Temple’s way more Philadelphia than Penn. Plus, considering what it costs compared to other local colleges, it’s one of the best values in the higher education industry. And I want to show my customers that I’m all about value.

5. A framed print of Cézanne’s Chrysanthemums from the Barnes Museum Gift Shop. Sure, a lot of cities have art museums, even Denver. But Denver’s contribution to the art world this summer was a retrospective of Yves Saint Laurent’s fashions, I kid you not. Compared to that, Philadelphia looks almost cerebral.

6. White Knuckles CD by The Bacon Brothers. The best part of this gift is waiting out as long as possible while my customer tries to figure out why in the hell I would send him such a terrible collection of music. And then when I explain to him that Kevin Bacon is from Philadelphia and his father designed like half the city, we’ll all have a good laugh and then launch the CD into the South Platte River.

7. A donation in his name to one of my favorite Philadelphia charities. I would give some money to one of my favorite Philadelphia schools if I could be assured that it won’t be eaten up by the unions or go in part to fund Arlene Ackerman’s payout. Better would be to give money to one of the many great organizations that support the Schuylkill River waterfront and development. I also like the Ronald McDonald House and Alex’s Lemonade. Or maybe a generous contribution in his name to the Marks Family Sending Three Kids to College at the Same Time Fund. Wait, scratch that … he’s already funding that with this project.

8. A glass bottle filled with dirt from Veterans Stadium. You can find this on eBay, along with memorabilia from the old Philadelphia Athletics too. Forget the fact that I spent so much of my childhood at that place and now it’s just a parking lot. Forget the fact that the A’s were legendary when they were in Philadelphia, and I have many now-deceased relatives who loved that team. He could care less. But what a cool conversation piece for the old office!

It’s a start. And I have a few more days to decide. Suggestions are welcome.