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The importance of receiving gifts when you live abroad

As an expat in Berlin, I’ve had some trouble adjusting to a new life. Germany, while similar to the USA in many ways, also has a pretty divergent culture from what I’m familiar with. Living abroad can be a challenge for a number of reasons, from the troubles with bureaucracy to communicating with people both here and at home. But the hardest part for me? Being away from my friends and family back in America. Yes, I’ve managed to settle quite nicely into a new home, but there’s still a certain longing for the past. I’m thousands of miles away from my family and though we’ve got a lot of ways to communicate abroad, it’s nowhere near as regular as it used to be.

Oftentimes, the out-of-sight, out-of-mind mentality comes to play. Of course, it works both ways, with me forgetting birthdays of friends back home and missing out on important events. But I will say this: being in a foreign country, the single best way to make me smile is physical mail. I guess the idea that I’m trying to make a mostly-permanent home abroad is solidified with each letter or package to my new address. There’s something special about receiving mail.

Thankfully, the kind people at Gifts for Europe have found a way to bring smiles to US expats in Europe. The website sells gift baskets with everything from wine & cheese to macaroons and chocolates. Customers in the USA (or anywhere, really) can visit their website and select from a huge variety of gift baskets to send to 21 different European countries. Knowing that I was spending my Christmas nearly all alone this past December, they offered to send me a gift basket to try out!

wine & cheese gift box

a gift for europeans

wine/cheese gift box

And guess what: I loved it! Mine came with three different cheeses, specially flavored for a German taste palette, some mixed nuts and a bottle of wine. The gift box wasn’t big but the cheese surprisingly lasted me for a few days—and I do love my cheese. It was a perfect little gift to receive, and for those looking to send something special to a friend abroad, I think these gift boxes make for a nice surprise. They range in price from $65-$200 depending upon the size and how gourmet you decide to go with the selection.

Win a gift box for you or a friend!

This contest is now over. Congrats to Nicole for winning!

Seeing as how I received my own special gift from Gifts for Europe, I figured a lucky reader should also get a gift. To enter, simply leave a comment on this post and make sure you’re subscribed to my newsletter (next edition: Feburary 1st). Gift boxes can only be sent to select countries Europe. If you don’t live in Europe, you’re welcome to still enter and have a gift basket sent to a friend of yours abroad.

1. Like this post on Facebook

2. Leave a comment here before midnight on February 8th (UTC+1)

Are you an expat or have you ever lived away from home? What was the single best way to cheer you up when living abroad? Click here to leave a comment now. The winner will be chosen at random from the comments below.

3. Join my revamped e-mail newsletter

The winner of this contest must also be a subscriber to the newsletter. Join now for more giveaways and interesting links & stories from around the world.

Only one entry per person. To determine the winner I’ll assign a number to every comment on this post and randomly select a winner using Your privacy is extremely important to us. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, either Facebook. Please note that this review is completely of my own opinion and has not been influenced by the promotion.

  1. Lena says:

    What a great idea!
    And who doesn’t love some culinary gifts, especially cheese and wine? I would totally go for it.

  2. Nicole says:

    As great as phone calls and technology are I love receiving a letter from home.
    It’s a little hard when you have a hectic travel schedule but when you are settled into expat life then I love receiving a little something that isn’t a bill or statement in the mail!

  3. efrutik says:

    Oh how I love the idea of packages delivered to one with some goodies. I have YET to receive more yet while living here in Germany, perhaps soon? I got one package from my sister a few months back which had all the things that I asked her to buy me. NOW that was a blast! In the future I would absolutely LOVE to get a package of Trader Joe’s chocolate chip cookies, OMG would so be happy.

    Glad you got a delicious package!

  4. Kiera says:

    I love this idea! I’m not sure I would normally spend so much on a gift basket for my friends (as much as I love them!) unless it was for a special occasion of course. But I do have plenty of European friends that have been so nice so this would be a great win! Oh, and now I know what to get my brother who is an expat living abroad ;) Thanks!

  5. Lydia says:

    I studied abroad with Semester at Sea, so receiving mail was a challenge but on the rare occasion that I did get something, it was very exciting.

  6. Alexis says:

    I currently live in Spain and the best way to cheer me up when I´m homesick is to eat something from home like peanut butter! No one has sent me a package from home but I have friends who have recieved boxes full of oatmeal and peanut butter and it always cheers them up.

  7. Hi, We are an American family of 4 currently living in Spain. We look at the mail every day and nothing there. We have been gone 5 months and did receive a care package for Christmas with Tootsie Rolls! Oh that was a piece of heaven. I would love to say the kids are so excited when something is in the mail, but I think Alan and I are even more excited. Thanks.

  8. Sofie says:

    My dad doesn’t live abroad, but he has to travel A LOT for business and thus spends a lot of time alone in hotels.
    February 8 so happens to be his birthday and I would just love to win a box so that I could slip in into his suitcase the next time he has to go abroad for business so that he’ll have a nice thing waiting for him when he unpacks after a meeting.

  9. Britany says:

    I mean… i love my friends and family and all. But I also love wine and cheese so I miight have to keep this for myself if I win:) Such a cute gift box!

  10. Dominika says:

    woo these gift boxes look amazing! when i was living in Taiwan the best way to cheer me up was definately skype with friends/family xd but i also missed the food from my country (even tho i love asian food, but still as an european i cannot live without bread haha) so i love this idea!

  11. dominika says:

    i love the idea! when i was living in Taiwan, even though i love asian cusine, i missed european food. i mean, living without good bread is hard haha. i really love your blog, and next month im going to Berlin woohoo so i will definately check some placec that u’ve been writing about XD

  12. Catalina says:

    mainly with chocolate, cholate icecream, chocolate bars, chocolate cakes :) it reminds me of the times at my grandma’s place. she used to give me a chocolate bar with stickers to collect! So it’s a great way to cheer me up when i have “heimweh”

  13. Rachel says:

    I studied abroad in Germany recently and will hopefully be going back later this year. I’m glad you are enjoying Berlin!

  14. Ana says:

    Such a nice idea of showing some love for friends and family .

    Cheese and wine, perfect combination event to keep it for yourself :)

    Was recently in Berlin, to celebrate New Year,

  15. Rachel says:

    Someone once sent me a pack of Cheddar cheese to Munich, which was lovely, if a little warm and damp.

  16. Patricia S says:

    have never lived abroad, but I think today’s electronic ways of communicating are amazing for keeping in contact with family & friends better than my first Christmas away from home, crying because it was way to cold to walk to the payphone to call my mommy 35 years ago!

  17. Federico says:

    Cookies are always the best way to cheer me up. In fact, a recent study conducted by myself on myself, proved that 3 out of 5 stages of grief can be substituted with cookies. Now the sequence is

    Denial, Cookies, Cookies, Cookies, Acceptance

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