When you move to a new city and/or country, you often have a host of friends and relatives lining up to visit you. Our move to Berlin was no exception. Over the years, we’ve welcomed many visitors, and I always love putting together a few little treats for them, whether it’s a hand-made travel journal to document their trip, some of their favourite German chocolates and magazines waiting for them on their guest bed, or a little bag with a few essentials for their days of sightseeing. So I decided to put together the ultimate ‘Berlin Welcome Kit’ to give you some ideas of what you could inside – the things are of course very Berlin-specific, but you could use them as inspiration and adapt them to the place you live in and your visitors.
Here’s a shot of everything I gathered to put in it. I also got a large paper bag and stamped ‘Welcome to Berlin’ on the front. Alternatively, you could also decorate a blank tote bag, then your visitors could use it when they go out exploring.
Here are some suggestions on what to put in the kit for kids (clockwise, starting top left):
- A sweet treat. If it is something that is specific to or typical of the place you live, that’s a bonus, otherwise, kids will usually be happy with any kind of sweetie or chocolate. In Berlin, you can get pretty much anything branded with the famous ‘Ampelmann’ traffic light figures, including gummi sweets, so that’s my go-to!
- I discovered these pocket maps which you can colour in and customise with stickers. They come for a few major cities, including Berlin (I got my elder son one for New York for our trip last year). Alternatively, there may be a colouring-in book featuring your city or country, or if all else fails you can include a little blank drawing pad for them to record their adventures.
- Some colouring pencils (or crayons, depending on age) so they can get stuck right in, and if you are going for the pencils then also a sharpener. Since it’s for on the road, an enclosed sharpener that catches the shavings is best.
- A couple of fun postcards. I found these ones in Berlin, that you can cut out to make your own Currywurst or Döner Kebab, Berlin’s favourite two street foods.
- A kids book relating to the place where you live, which will also be a great souvenir for your little visitors. This cute little board book is perfect for the very little ones, but there are a variety of options out there. A kids guidebook would be another alternative if one exists (there are several for Berlin). And even places that aren’t popular tourist destinations often have some kind of books or guidebooks relating to them. All else failing, if you are feeling very creative, you could even make up your own.
- Finally, I love these crumpled maps for kids, so I was delighted that they have one for Berlin. But my kids love any kind of maps – even the two year old likes to grab a map e.g. when we visit a museum, and pretends to study it, copying what the grown-ups are doing – so if you have a tourist info in your town you could ask if they have any free maps there, which you could include.
Of course, adults like sweet treats too so you may want to include another bag of candy or a more grown up treat for them. Here are a few other suggestions for the adults (clockwise starting top right):
- Something fun and quirky to remind them of their visit. I discovered this card game in a bookshop downtown, featuring DDR ‘Plattenbauten’ – the name for the East German pre-fab apartment blocks that sprung up after the war.
- Some more ‘Ampelmann’ themed swag. A packet of tissues will always come in handy.
- A little notebook for the grownups too. I got a blank one and wrapped it in some Berlin-print wrapping paper. I realise not every town will have this, but alternatively, you could decorate the outside of a blank notebook e.g. with pictures cut out from a tourist brochure. Also, a pen. I found one which said ‘Berlin’ on the side, so that was a bonus.
- Some postcards from the place you live, with stamps already stuck on. They might want to buy some postcards themselves, but at least they’ll have a couple ready to write and send straight away.
- Grown-ups need a map too, of course. Again, you could pop in to a tourist info to get some, or for something a little different I love this design map from Herb Lester. They also have maps for a range of other European and North American cities.
- And, finally, a mini cookbook, with recipes typical of Berlin. A great little souvenir to take home and cook from, extending their visit even further. You might find something similar, if not for the town you live in then maybe for the region or country.
So, I hope you enjoyed my suggestions for what to put in a welcome kit for visitors coming to your town or city. One other thing I considered was tickets for public transport, but there are so many different options for Berlin I decided to leave it in the end. If you have any other ideas or suggestions, please feel free to leave a comment below. I’d love to hear them!