’tis the season we are busy….

We all know, it is this time of the year when things tend to get crazy. Holiday parties, choir performances, gift exchanges, decorating, baking, crafting, shopping….. And on December 10th, 11th or even 14th you realize that Christmas is less than two weeks away and you still need some gifts for the family back home.

In the first years of my expat life I actually sent lots of parcels to Germany. They were filled with things you can only buy in the US and I enjoyed sending them because I know how great it ist to receive one yourself. But over these last years, shipping has become increasingly expensive and due to the amount of packages the mail often arrived days after Christmas. It would be to late to send something now anyway and since I kind of gave up on the US Postal Service, I had to think of alternatives.

That’s why I thought I share my favorite last minute Christmas ideas with you.

  1. First of all, if you have Amazon in your home country, like we do, you can sign up for a free one month trial for Prime and you get free shipping for almost anything. You can literally order presents 2-3 days before the 24th and presents will still be on time.
  2. Another great gift idea is a subscription for a newspaper or magazine. I ordered one for my godchild this year. For children in Germany I like Geolino and Geo Mini or Dein Spiegel and in the US National Geographic for Kids, Highlights or American Girl Magazine.
  3. You can give the gift of media streaming, e.g. one year of Spotify or last.fm for Euro 36 a year or a subscription for audible (audiobooks, connected with Amazon).
  4. We love to give “activity presents” and there are a few great sites in Germany we like to use: mydays.com and Jochen Schweizer. I can personally recommend the “Kulinarische Stadtfuehrung” (culinary city tour) from My Days. It’s only Euro 30 per Person and a 2-3 hour event. And you can always check out Groupon.
  5. Even though you can’t go out for dinner, you can send a gift certificate for a favorite restaurant and FaceTime during dessert.
  6. A gift certificate for their favorite store. Buy it online in the respective country and have it mailed to your friend or family member. Or just order a piece you’d like them to wear on the day you gonna see each other again.
  7. Give the gift of special time: A coupon for 3 special Skype or FaceTime dates.
  8. A photo book, calendar or prints on canvas with your best/favorite photographs of the year. Use a website in your home country to cut shipping time. If you’re super late, just order a fast processing collage print. In Germany I have used vistaprint.de for all kinds of photographic presents and we only had happy takers.
  9. Another great idea is to send your friends an USB full of your favorite music (not really last minute though). You could also add some photographs or videos so they see what you’ve done all year long.
  10. Make a movie and share it on YouTube with your loved ones. I make an annual “Christmas movie” that I post unlisted on You Tube. Only people with the link can see it. Depending on your home country you have to think about the music carefully. Germany has extremely strict copyright laws and most songs don’t play on youtube Germany. That’s why I usually have two versions or just choose an instrumental song because they usually work.
  11. Last but not least: Use your connections. There are always people that do travel home for Christmas. Pack your small gifts, pay and print the necessary domestic postage online and ask them politely to take it for you. Most people do.

I hope the one or the other idea can be helpful. Do you have favorite last minute gifts for people overseas? Please leave a comment. Check out my Pinterest board “last minute present ideas” and these two websites might help you with last minute gifts, too:  giftsforeurope.com and giftbasketsoverseas.com.

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