An Early Bienvenue

Holiday gift ideas for the travelers in your life

Living in an area that attracts a lot of tourists means locals often welcome out-of-town guests. Whether hosting them on our couches or in well-appointed guest rooms, New Orleanians pride ourselves on our hospitality. This holiday season, why not start the warm welcome early and send gifts to your loved ones in advance of their travels to the Crescent City?

Mardi Gras Merriment

Those with travel plans for Mardi Gras 2018 likely have plane tickets purchased and hotel rooms booked. Why not send them a teaser of the joy to come by having Haydel’s deliver a king cake to their door for the holidays? Haydel’s offers a variety of packages at different price points that can include beads, doubloons and other Mardi Gras treats. If you want to send it as a true Christmas present, you can order a red and green version.

Dress Like a Local

A growing trend in attire is the hyper-local t-shirt. It’s no longer enough to wear gear depicting a hometown sports team or area college. We now need to wear inside jokes and images that play on the New Orleans sense of humor and pride of place. Help your tourists fit in with the locals by giving them shirts that imply they live in LA, not L.A.

Locally owned Dirty Coast and Fleurty Girl are two of my favorite shops. Both boast multiple locations and online ordering. “Attack of the Flying Cockroaches” and “Sazerac: The Glass is Always Half Full” are just two examples of witty words and designs.

Festival Care Package

Get creative and make a care package that will have them ready for any festival. Hat, sunglasses, earplugs, bug spray, sunblock, handheld misting fan, koozies, handkerchief… you know the drill. Think about the items you always have packed for a day at Jazz Fest or French Quarter Fest.

Are they coming to a festival for the first time? Send them a poster from a previous year with an image on it you think they would enjoy, or make a “gift card” they can redeem for you to purchase them a print from their first festival in New Orleans.

Palate Adjusters

Having grown up in a place that thought mild salsa was “hot sauce,” I empathize with visitors who arrive in New Orleans with an inexperienced palate. Choose some of your favorite local seasonings, sauces and food mixes and send them along with beloved recipes. Be mindful that the recipes should match the technical skill of the chef, and you can make plans to teach them how to create that dark roux when they visit.

Brands like Zatarain’s are relatively easy to find nationwide, but smaller local companies like Jambalaya Girl make jambalaya and gumbo bases that are flavorful, unique and not too spicy. Of course, Tony Chachere’s needs to make an appearance, but consider some of the area offerings too. Kitchen Witch Cookbooks on Broad Street makes its own seasoning blends and will ship internationally.

Travel Accessories

Your out-of-town guests will likely already have all of the technology they need to entertain themselves on their flight, but will they be able to make a craft cocktail while airborne? The website features an online shop where you can order “The Carry-On Cocktail Kit” to make the perfect Old Fashioned, Gin and Tonic or Bloody Mary. Every purchase helps support the southern storytelling and journalism the website provides.

Remember, regardless of what holiday you observe this time of year, a thoughtful gift from a friend is always welcome.

Jennifer Gibson Schecter was once a tourist in New Orleans herself and is now proud to call NOLA home. She also writes the Wednesday Tourism Blog on




Categories: Hospitality