A few weeks ago my husbands co-worked had a baby and so I made a Jake the Dog as a gift, then last week hubby comes home with a gift for me (from the co-workers family) it was of course, all wrapped up and in a presentation box, inside was this catalogue. I get to flick through and order any one thing as a thank you gift. I picked out a black pepper grinder since mine has never been the same after I dropped it in a load of batter. The catalogue idea is relatively new, before the person doing the thanking would choose something such a towel set, small
bowels bowls, fancy cookies or the such like, I suppose with the catalogue you can pick something you actually want/need but I suspect that the thank you gift often costs more than the gift you give! I think, the return gift is supposed to cost one third of the original gift, as a rough guide. When you attend a wedding there is a complicated procedure to give money and then you get a thank you present back, often something you don't want/need, silly but it is tradition.
The other thank you fiasco was for my Japanese friend Tomoe who always sends us a big box of nashi in the summer. When we stayed with her she had mentioned that she likes the honey ume-boshi that is produced in Wakayama (my husbands hometown, she had been there visiting). So, as a thank you gift we thought we could send some ume-boshi. Hubby calls his mom to see if his uncle (ume-boshi farm owner) does the honey ones and if so did they have a website we could order some from. Long story short, his uncle sends the ume-boshi for us and asks for no payment. Great! But now we have to pick a thank you gift for uncle. You see, gift giving really isn't such a straight forward thing in Japan.