When I was living in England I found myself decorating my room with all my overseas travels. Now I’m living in America, I can’t help but feel comfort in having little bits of ‘home’ surrounding me! I also love receiving care packages from home. Over the past couple of years, I’ve got used to coming up with gift ideas that are small/lightweight which are easy to fly with or send in the mail. Here are some ideas of gifts to send abroad with a focus on gifts for British expats!
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Things To Considering When Sending Gifts Abroad
There are a few things to consider when sending gifts abroad (or long distance). As well as the obvious things like size and weight, you’ll have to consider customs and import rules. Some items, especially foods, just can’t be sent overseas.
I know when I send packages from America to the UK, I have to make sure that the value of the box is less than £30 because otherwise it could be subjected to the English recipient may have to pay import duty on their own gift!
Can things break? Will liquids leak/are they within the capacity if transporting in hand luggage? Will things melt if a package sits on a doorstep all day? Does the product include batteries (batteries are a bit of a grey area, watch batteries seem to be OK but I would be vary wary of something that had a lithium ion battery…)?
And don’t forget postage time!! When it comes to relatives living overseas, you have to make sure you are prepared when it comes to birthdays and Christmas! We know that packages take roughly 10 days to get between England and Iowa. Post offices will often release their final dates for international shipping with plenty of warning!
Gifts To Send Abroad
Chocolate and Sweets!
One thing that I love receiving as a British expat, is my favourite chocolate and sweets from back home! I can find some brands or American variations in places like Walmart but I especially love the things I struggle to get a hold of! I’m usually quite good with rationing my British treats!
This works the other direction too! My family back home love receiving and trying ‘unfamiliar’ sweets from America!
As mentioned above, be careful when it comes to food, but a couple of ‘import friendly’ pre-mixes from England to the USA are yorkshire pudding mix and scone mix! I find these fun as I have to make them before I get to enjoy them! (Although I did get really sad once because I’d just made a batch of scones and then they got destroyed by ants *sigh*)
Socks and t-shirts are always handy and are lightweight, unbreakable gifts! Obviously try and put some personality into the clothing, don’t just buy a pack of boring black socks (unless that’s what they really want?!). I usually ask for Harry Potter socks from Primark (English and cheap!), in return I find novelty ones or ones with place names on for my family back home.
Anyone actually still use CD’s? Haha! I do! Whenever my favourite UK band has a new album out I request it to be sent over because I can’t usually get hold of it from here! I use CD’s in my car and if it’s a signed version, that’s even better 😉
Photos and Photo Frames!
I have loads of pictures on display of my family. I find being away from them the hardest thing about living overseas. My sister had bought me a frame one year for christmas and she thought it’d be something I wouldn’t bother to ship over with me but it was ALWAYS on my packing list because I love it and I love it even more now. Just make sure it comes well bubble wrapped if part of it is glass!
It’s always nice to get photos both of people and places! I’ll often send postcards home as I like the visual element of them.
Or even blank camera memory cards are a great small lightweight gift that could even be sent in an envelope! I’ve asked my sister to buy my memories cards for the past few birthdays and Christmas. I’m always needing them for all my different cameras! I need mirco SDs for my Gopro and drone and regular SD cards for my point and shoot camera!
Notebooks/’I Was Here’ Travel Journal
Another gift from my sister! I had been ‘sitting’ on it for a while waiting for the perfect time to get the best use out of it and now I’m living in a new country, that time has come! It’s got sections about the people you meet, restaurants you visit, places you’ve been, conversations you overhear, cool ways to explore your new surroundings, experiencing different brand names and loads more! I felt I was never in one place long enough to make full use of it but now I live overseas I can document things properly!
I bought my sister a journal for an upcoming trip too. They are flat so are easy to send! Just like the photo and photo albums, you can go one step further and make a scrapbook or a personalised photo book! I have both received and given these myself, they are great gifts that are full of love and effort!
Christmas Ornaments are great to send overseas…you might just have to buy them a year in advance for the following Christmas, or early enough that the person receiving them gets them in time to actually be able to enjoy them! This is again something else that has been sent both ways. I’ve received British theme ornament and I’ve sent American ones to the UK! The ones from Hobby Lobby (USA) are great to send as they are so lightweight!
Bracelets & Jewellery
The bracelets I wear are quite robust. They make great travel souvenirs because I can either wear them straight away or they don’t take up much room in my luggage…same with postage! You can find some of my favourite bracelets in my post: Travel Memories On My Wrist – A Look At My Travel Memory Bracelets! Most of these companies ship to both England and the USA. Another cool bracelet company is ZOX. They make unique limited edition bracelets that have artwork and inspiration messages on them!
Gifts For Someone Moving Abroad
Post Box and Phone Booth Salt and Pepper Pots
Me and the Husband were bought these as a wedding gift from a family friend who said ‘You need a bit of England in America’. I agree! They sit on our kitchen window sill and they look so cute! They could potentially be a practical gift too but I like them as ornaments!
A great gift for someone going abroad is a little trinket box full of memories. When I moved, our family friends, who i’ve known my whole life, put together a little trinket box full of tiny little photos of holidays and day trips we’d been on together, parties etc, and other little things such as English coins. It was small enough that I could easier transport it in my suitcase when I moved. I love sitting down and looking through it every now and then!
We had something similar as our top table centre piece at our wedding. The one we have has a third flag, the Stars and Stripes and Union Jack represent our nationalities and then we have the Jamaica flag as that’s where we met. The flags now sit on the dining room window sill, they brighten up the room lovely! (Other country combinations are available!)
Where it All Began Map Wall Art
This one is a little more expensive because of the amount of personalisation on it! I have 2 pieces of Wall Art like this, one in the bedroom and one in the living room and I love them! One map is where we met (Ocho Rios, Jamaica), the 2nd map is where we got married (Essex, England) and the 3rd is where we live (Iowa, USA). It works well with our situation but there are so many different combinations such as long distance sisters, long distance friends and then the wedding options!
Laptop (MacBook Air) External CD Drive
I wanted to bring some of my UK DVDs with me to the States, but I knew that depending on the disc’s region, they won’t play on certain players. Usually on laptop, you get the chance to change your computers region up to 3 times (I believe…but it’s not many). I wanted a MacBook as it’s lightweight and easy to travel with, but doesn’t have a CD slot. I bought an external CD drive and plan to only use my Mac to play British DVDs. I refuse to re-buy Harry Potter and have it called the Sorcerers Stone…
A Biscuit/Cookie Tin
Brits love tea and a biscuit tin just seems to be a staple in British life! Over here in America, it seems IMPOSSIBLE to buy just one pack of biscuits. Things like Oreos have the equivalent of 4 packs of biscuits and once you open them up, the whole lot is destined for staleness…especially when it’s only me that’d be eating them!
My mum recently bought my a biscuit tin in the shape of a camper van. I love it and use it as my secret British goodies ration tin now I’ve eaten all the biscuits!!
I found this one on Amazon…it’s British styled AND comes with tea and biscuits…win win!
Gifts For A British/Expat Friend!
Here are some slightly larger British themed gifts that would make great presents for an American buying a gift for a British Expat friend living in the USA…or even a friend that’s an Anglophile (someone that loves British things!)
I really want one that says London, England and one that says Chicago, USA…they are my 2 local airports now, it’s just another way to link my life here to home!
Time Zone Clocks
I’ve got used to working out the time zones between the UK and USA but I love the fact that in my living room, above the TV, I have 2 clocks…one with Iowa time and one with UK time. It’s just a quick reminder of the time back home!
London Wall Art
Again, we were given a set of 6 London canvas’ as a gift. The walls of our living room are red and this particular black & white style print with the splash of red looks really great! I can’t find the exact set we have but the print below is the same image on one of the canvas’! A good ole red London Double Decker bus, driving over Westminster Bridge with Big Ben in the background!
Save Money on Shipping
Shipping gifts can be very expensive. I know it’s cheaper to send packages TO American than what it is for me to send a package FROM America. A way I can sometimes get round this, is to find a site that allows me to buy from America but ship directly to the UK. The UK bath bomb company, Bomb Cosmetics lets me order from America (just about…I have to lie about my billing address, but I just put the English address with my American card and it’s always worked for me by doing that) but I send the package directly to my family and just tell them not to open any box with my name on!
Ebay is another one that this will often work for. I found this out by buying something when I first moved to America and had forgot to change my English address!
What are some gifts that you’ve sent to friends or relatives that live overseas?
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