Gift giving is an art and as with any art it is a mixture of sensitivity and perspective. As a foreigner living in Mexico these are some tricks of the trade I’ve learned that have served me well and will help your gifting fit in a bit better.
Speaking of fitting in, gifts are rarely, if ever, opened in front of the giver. It took me a bit to get use to as opening gifts is a part of most any celebration up North. In fact, I remember teaching my kids how to open a gift showing both appreciation and excitement. Not to mention the countless hours issuing thank you notes, a practice that eludes them as adults.
The most frequently given staple gift to have on hand are the Maria dolls made by the local Otomis. Girls of any age love that doll especially when draped in some pearls. Senior gals often spend the rest of the party comforting the doll and ignoring the jewelry. I think maybe it represents the dolls not received in their youth. Even at my sister’s assisted living outside Hershey I can blow through 50 Maria dolls in a matter of moments among the residents.
Chocolate boxes also come in handy for forays outside of town, the driver always likes getting a box just for them.
Whenever I find myself back North I stock up on perfumes for both genders and various ages at a Burlington, TJ Maxx or similar. Perfumes here are quite costly and have a short shelf live compared to the chemicals allowed in the US and Canada. Nary do I have a suitcase not containing scents from Marvel, Pitt Bull, Elizabeth Taylor and alike.
Also up North I’ll scout consignment shops for unused designer purses, often with the retail tags still on them. Designer anything is favored here but nothing more than purses, even second hand, which are wildly more expensive here. For adolescents a brightly colored purse shaped like a bus or minion are always enjoyed.
Speaking of nativities, for the first few Christmas seasons I’ll get a child toy nativity sets more available up North than here. Best to learn the story through play!
For young, and young at heart, gals a Barbie doll cake is always enjoyable both as a treat and a toy!
Young lads favor soccer balls. If you want to be a bit more caring give the parents money to sponsor the next semester’s after school activities like karate, boxing or dancing. Same goes for the start of the school year’s expenses for books, supplies and uniforms. September is a hard economic month for any family with school-age kids.
Holiday gifts are really just for children and given on 3 Kings’ Day as that is when Jesus got his birth day gifts. (Though what baby wants myrrh eludes me!) That being said, I still give trinkets to the ladies in my life in December and being a foreigner I can bend gift giving rules some. I’ve learned not to do the same with other men as gifts can be mistaken for signs of romantic pursuit.
When traveling I’ve both Maria dolls and their coloring book for flight attendants, hotel staff and such. During a recent hospital stay here the nurses enjoyed receiving the coloring book so much they came back and asked for more! Plus I leave a dozen or so at Hershey Medical for sick girls.
Hope that makes all your gift giving throughout the year easier and more easily appreciated!