Expats aren’t THAT different from other people, but if we’re not able to make it ‘home’ (whatever social construct that means to you), then a gift or care package from friends and family from our home country can be very meaningful.  Side note: Believe me, I live among people from all backgrounds, so I get that you might not celebrate Christmas.  Guess what?  I don’t particularly subscribe to the holiday either, but I love how the holidays in the Middle East are rebranded as the ‘festive season.’

Thus, with the upcoming festive season in mind, here’s a few gifts I wouldn’t mind receiving this year:

  1. Goodies.  While this is a bit open-ended, friends coming to see me know I like Sour Patch Kids, certain types of gum, Crystal Light, Triscuits, and other treats that one can only find at Target and CVS.  While these may seem cheap and easy, there is a wonderful little moment of ‘home’ when I open something that came from a grocery store in the States.
  2. Tickets or miles.  While sometimes Hubs sends me miles to balance out our accounts, it’s never been as a gift.  Not that I’ve ever received this particular present, but I certainly can’t think of any better or more useful gift (wink, wink, hint, hint).  If for whatever reason someone bought us tickets home, I’m not even sure how I would handle that level of love.  A note that the money doesn’t have to be raised by one person or family — why not crowdsource?  Surely, some of your 400+ facebook friends could get together, right?
  3. A gift card to AirBnb.  My mom purchased this for Hubs and I last year and it’s something we’ll actually use.
  4. A gift card to a hotel or some local experience.  Sometimes, as expats, we don’t get around to trying out all our city has to offer.  Especially the more expensive opportunities…  This would be an exceptionally wonderful gift if someone you knew had just moved to a city or was new to a country.
  5. A gift card for a restaurant.  As someone who appreciates food, when I was unable to attend a wedding for a dear friend earlier in the year (side bar: having expat friends is fun, but it can get expensive), I decided to find the best restaurant in her city and coordinate a night out for her and her new husband.  It’s one of those things you would never do for yourself, but is so nice when someone thinks of it.  Who knows?  Maybe I started a tradition for them and they’ll go back for their anniversary.
  6. Real mail.  Sigh.  There is nothing better.  While I don’t live in a city with personal mail delivery (?!), post is delivered to one’s employer, which when you’re freelance, doesn’t really work out…  My issues aside, actual pieces of mail carry a lot of meaning.  I love to see friends from home and their kids in a traditional Christmas card.
  7. A Kindle (or some other electronic reading device).  Given that libraries might be difficult to find in certain parts of the world (ahem), as someone who enjoys reading, I take my Kindle pretty much everywhere.  I love being able to carry mountains of books easily (and hey — not having so many physical books makes moving a lot easier).

What about you, fellow expat?  What’s on your wish list this year?

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Hi there – I’m Courtney, an American expat who seeks to share unique culinary and hospitality experiences from the UAE and beyond. I’m currently living in Dubai and have lived in the GCC since 2007. I have seen the region change and grow – it’s been an exciting process! I love flying up front, Veuve Clicquot, salmon sashimi, salsa dancing, beauty boxes, formal shorts, kawaii stickers, and sharing my love of exploring and fine dining with the world. I enjoy hotels so much I even wrote a novel about one! I'd love it you checked out Room 702 by Ann Benjamin (my pen name).