Don’t Send a Fruitcake to the White House

Now that November is in the rear-view mirror, it is time to start planning for the upcoming holiday season. If you are having problems coming up with the perfect gift for your family members or friends, consider the plight of those who have to buy gifts for the man who has everything.

For gifts that are worthy of the Most Powerful Man on Earth, you can browse the lists of gifts received by the President (as well as other federal employees) from foreign government sources for yuletide inspiration: 1993, 1994, 1995, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009.

However, the U.S. Constitution prohibits the President and other persons in office from accepting presents from any King, Prince or foreign State without the consent of Congress. Article I, Section 9, Clause 8. Accordingly, these gifts are disposed of pursuant to the regulations concerning the utilization, donation and disposal of foreign gifts and decorations. 41 C.F.R. § 105-42.5. Most gifts are sent to the Archives, transfered to the General Servies Administration or retained for display or official use.

Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire

The disposition of some gifts is discreetly described as being “handled pursuant to Secret Service policy.”

Date of Acceptance Gift Identity of Foreign Donor and Government
4/2/2008 Bottle of 1977 Chardonnay. His Excellency Calin Popescu-Tariceanu, Prime Minister of Romania.
5/6/2008 Ten Fuente OpusX cigars. His Excellency Martin Torrijos Espino President of the Republic of Panama.
7/8/2008 Bouquet of flowers and thirty-eight boxes of assorted Godiva chocolates. His Majesty Mohammed VI, King of Morocco.
4/16/2008 Box of Rococco chocolates. The Right Honorable James Gordon Brown, M.P., Prime Minister.
5/15/2008 Ahava Bath + Beauty set in blue AHAVA travel case. Her Excellency Dali Itzik, Speaker of the Knesset of Israel.
3/5/2009 Four boxes of dates and twelve bottles of wine. His Excellency Abdelaziz Bouteflika, President of the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria.
5/28/2009 Bottle of olive oil. His Excellency Dr. Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority.

The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library explains in Presidential Gifts: Their Handling and Legal Status that “the Secret Service requires destruction of food and drink gifts, combustible items which may release fumes, and colognes and other substances that are applied to the skin.” So, while Santa may appreciate cookies and a glass of milk, don’t send a fruitcake to the White House.

12 Gifts for Less Than a Benjamin

If you are looking for gifts that will not bust the budget, how about these stocking stuffers for under $100 each.

Estimated value Gift Foreign donor and government
$15.00 CD: ‘‘Jazz for Quiet Moments,’’ by Greg Howard. His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam.
$23.00 Household Item: small green dish. His Excellency Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabir Al Thani, Prime Minister of the State of Qatar.
$25.00 Book, hardcover: ‘‘Churchill: The Unexpected Hero,’’ by Paul Addison, inscribed by donor. The Right Honorable James Gordon Brown, M.P., Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
$30.00 Holiday Item: gold-tone beaded snowflake Christmas ornament. His Excellency Saqr Ghobash Saeed Ghobash and Mrs. Fatima Salem, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, United Arab Emirates.
$35.00 Clothing: black and gold traditional Afghan vest with white ties. His Excellency Hamid Karzai, President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.
$42.00 Athletic Equipment (2): Possum Leather True Grip Golf Gloves. The Right Honorable Helen Clark, Prime Minister of New Zealand.
$50.00 Local vegetable floral arrangement. Mrs. Pilar Nores de Garcia, The First Lady of the Republic of Peru, Palacio de Gobierno, Plaza de Arnas, Lima.
$50.00 Bottle of Kutjevo wine. His Excellency Stjepan Mesic, President of the Republic of Croatia.
$55.00 Books, hardcover (2): ‘‘Stayed Tuned,’’ by Joe Garner and ‘‘1,001 Reasons to Love America,’’ by Hubert Pedroli and Mary Tiegreen. His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam.
$60.00 Various chocolates, cookies, corn relish and spirited cherries. His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, Sultan and Yang Di Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam
$89.00 Book, hardcover (in Mongolian): ‘‘Great Mongolian State.’’ His Excellency N. Enkhbayar, President of Mongolia.
$95.00 Household Item: green, beige, and red plaid lambswool blanket. The Right Honorable James Gordon Brown, M.P., Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.