Gifts for Guys, What Would Obama Give? March 28 2012

It’s interesting what gifts heads of state, including our own Barack Obama, exchange with each other to mark the occasion of an official visit. Quite literally, these are gifts for men and women that rule!

There was the time that Obama famously gave the low-tech Queen Elizabeth an iPod loaded with photos of one of her stateside visit. In return, he received an engraved silver frame with a signed photograph of her royalness posing with the Duke of Edinburg. When British Prime Minister, David Cameron, came to visit the White House recently, the President chose a more ‘gifts for guys’ approach, presenting a “one of a kind’ grill as a reminder of the time the two sizzled up juicy burgers during the Obama’s May 2011 visit to 10 Downing Street. In return, Obama received a pimped out ping pong table from Cameron, an insider reference to the match the pair played against school kids during the same 2011 visit. In 2009, Obama gave the Prime Minister at the time a boxed set of 25 classic American films.

In the olden days, dignitaries used to exchange stuffy to somewhat strange gifts with each other – primarily gifts for men who were completely out of touch with regular living. The exchange of gifts among kings and chiefs and presidential types is a centuries-old tradition dating back to the ancient civilizations of Rome and Egypt as well as the indigenous tribes of North America. Presenting these ceremonial gifts for men in charge extends the proverbial olive branch and paves the way for peaceful relationships between different cultures.

Gifts such as wildly expensive golden tea sets to custom-made cowboy boots, dignitary gifts for men and women are usually chosen to either represent a specific culture or make a memorable impression fit for a King. Since Obama likes to take the modern approach with barbeque gifts and even tech gadgets for a Queen, it is clear that he is trying to present himself as ‘one of the regular guys.’ If you are interested in this international gesture of goodwill between heads of state, you can check out the online exhibition, Tokens & Treasures – Gifts to Twelve Presidents.