Treat Yo’ Loved Ones (And Yo’ Self)

Treat Yo’ Loved Ones (And Yo’ Self): A Guide to Buying Gifts During the Holiday Season as a Study Abroad Student

Ladies and gents, the holiday season is finally upon us! Christmas markets around London are brightening up the streets as the sun says goodbye a little bit earlier in the day. Local vendors are circling their hot chocolate prices in heavy chalk. Happy-go-lucky holiday music is playing in all of the Boots pharmacies. The holiday season has finally arrived, but not without its dreaded partner: holiday shopping.

I don’t celebrate Christmas, so figuring out what to get x amount of people with -£y amount of money hasn’t been a problem of mine for most of my life. This time around though, I’ve had to get creative about what gifts I can bring home to family and friends. I’m lucky enough to be able to go back home for winter break, but there is one tiny drawback. I know that my loved ones will be excited to see me as I walk through the airport doors, but I also know them well enough to know that they’ll quickly stick their hands out like greedy school children, ecstatic to see what alien, European trinkets and jewels I’ve brought back to the mothership.

Since shipping and airline baggage fees are too expensive and time is running out, we need to get into the mentality of ballin’ on a budget. Need gift ideas that won’t break the bank and won’t weigh/take up too much space in a suitcase? Fellow foreigners, if you’re scrambling to get something nice for loved ones back home or just want a couple of simple gifts to keep for yourself (hey, no judgement here), read on!

Tea Towels – Now, hear me out. I know they’re not a very millennial-esque purchase, but if you get a nice *insert European country* themed tea towel, your loved one might just end up using that tea towel when they have guests over and are trying to impress. Not only that, but it’s a flexible gift—so fitting it in a suitcase won’t be a problem and it’ll be light as a feather.

Art – Postcards with local stamps, posters of city landscapes, small collectible shot glasses, whatever you want. Not only can you find art at an affordable price anywhere, but some of it actually looks good. Shocker! Bonus points if you buy art from a local artist—and extra bonus points if you ask them what their inspiration was for that piece. You can repeat that story later to your loved one. I’m sure they will cherish it even more with the backstory.

Food – This one is a bit harder, but it’s great for very-last-minute gift purchases and perhaps better for friends. Each country obviously has its own cuisine. You can’t wrap fish and chips into a box and expect the airport security guards to let it through without batting an eye, but chocolates and crisps local to the UK are excellent for friends who’ve never tried English junk food. Maltesers, Dairy Milk chocolate, and Kinder Eggs are all good options.

Accessories – As long as the scarf/hat/gloves look good, loved ones will always wear them with pride. Why? Because when a friend of theirs asks, “Oh, I love that! Where did you get it?”, they’ll get to be the obnoxious snob that says, “Oh, this? My favorite *insert relationship here* got it from London/Paris/Bruges/Amsterdam. You can’t find it here!”. Not only are you giving them the gift, but you’re giving them cool points too. And considering how embarrassing some of our loved ones are, they might need that too.

Happy holiday shopping!


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