It can be tough to figure out which gifts to send abroad. When people move away, it’s especially hard around holidays and birthdays. I hope this gift guide for overseas friends and family can help in a little way to bring you closer together.
This is a practical list that comes with a lot of ideas and links. Some of these links will be affiliate links, which means I get a small commission without you pay any extra. But, actually, most of these links are not affiliate links. It’s just what I would suggest to anyone. Please let me know in the comments if this list was helpful for you and if you bought something. Thanks so much!
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You may also like to read how to survive Christmas abroad
Tips for buying gifts to send abroad
Use a credit card
Most online stores will take a credit card, but be aware that this may not always be the case. In Europe, there are a few different ways to pay that may not be available to those who don’t live in that country. If that happens, try another shop, or go to your second choice of a gift.
Do a little research
What’s available to them in their new country? What is their local online retailer? For example, we have Amazon available to us (in the Netherlands) through Germany, so we use Amazon.de. But a similar online retailer in the Netherlands is Bol.com.
Maybe you have a shop you love to buy gifts from, and they also have a presence in Europe. Within the European Union, it might be possible to order from another country’s website and for the gift to be delivered in the country your giftee lives in. For instance, if you want to order gifts from Sephora, you can order on the French website and have it shipped to the Netherlands. We don’t have any Sephoras in the Netherlands, nor is there an online site for the country, so this is a possibility you can use as well!
Some websites like ebags.com use a program called Borderless. You can order from the website as normal, but in the top-right corner, choose the country it will be shipped to. When you check out, you can pre-pay the duties and taxes so the recipient doesn’t have to. Since it’s a present, that’s a nice thing to do!
Use Google Chrome
Using Google Chrome is a HUGE help when buying gifts for friends and family who live abroad. This browser extension will translate websites for you, so when you are shopping, life is a bit easier. In the box for the URL, there’s an icon you can toggle on and off which is good for those pages that need to be in the native language to work properly. In this case, have the translations turned on, read and fill out as much as possible, then turn it off when you are ready to submit. It doesn’t happen often, but good to know in case it does!
Another gift guide that may interest you: A practical gift guide for travelers
Best gifts for overseas friends and family
A nice note/card
I want to be clear, here. I don’t think you HAVE to buy presents for people to show you care. A nice note/card/letter can be a great way to say “I’m thinking about you” or “I love you”. But I realize that some people have gift-giving as their love-language and others have it as a tradition, so on with the list we go!
Amazon gift card/Other online retailer gift card
If your friend or a family member has an Amazon available to them, you could get them a gift card so they could buy anything they want. Otherwise, see what other retailers they may shop from and send them a card from there. There’s always the option to ask them to create an Amazon wishlist for you to purchase from. In general, shopping gift cards are nice if you know they will use them. Remember, pick the right Amazon website for them because Amazon.com gift cards don’t work abroad.
Do they use Skype credit to call you? Give them some Skype credit to make it easier to stay in touch. Typically, I use this credit to call a landline from Skype on my phone. This is very useful if I’m somewhere with wifi and need to call a phone. You might think…just Skype the other person and have them use Skype! This works if the other person uses Skype, but my grandmother doesn’t use technology, so this is the best way to talk to her.
Traditional and thoughtful — flowers are always a nice touch. I used to hate fresh-cut flowers because they just die on you. Nowadays, I appreciate the beauty they bring to my house while they are still alive. If you are looking for flower delivery in the Netherlands, we love Top Bloemen. A quick Google search will help you find who will send flowers to your loved one.
Airline gift card
Yes! Some airlines will allow you to purchase a gift card! Sadly, not all airlines do this, but it’s worth asking which airlines your friend or family member likes to use. They may not know their favorites yet if they are moving abroad soon, but it never hurts to ask!
Accommodation gift card
You totally didn’t see this coming, did you? Hehehe! Well, when you travel, you tend to need somewhere to stay. Normally, I would recommend Booking.com, but seems that it’s tricky to get one from there at the moment (but Google it again to see if it’s available when you are reading this), but you can get an Airbnb gift card, or maybe a card for their favorite hotel chain.
If you are looking to really wow the giftee, then a Tinggly gift is the way to go. You purchase a package and they get a gift box mailed to them (if you choose this option) and they can choose which experience they would like to have. There is literally a world of experiences, so you can’t go wrong! I’m a sucker for the Key to Europe gift box, but if you want to go all out, then the Ultimate Collection is the way to go. For every gift you give, it’s carbon-neutral – the experience is off-set by 200%. It’s one of those feel-good, everyone wins kind of gifts.
Don’t underestimate how much a good old-fashioned care package means to anyone who has moved to a new country (or even a new state!). Send them their favorite food, bake some cookies or cake, and include anything that made you think of them. My grandma loves to send me my favorite brownie mix and some dried goods they just don’t have over here. It always makes my week, especially when she adds a lovely note inside.
IKEA gift card
It seems there’s an IKEA everywhere and everyone needs to go to IKEA at some point, so it’s a perfect gift card! Just be sure to order it via the IKEA your friend or family member will be using. I just typed in “IKEA gift card NL” to get to the right page for the Netherlands to order a gift card here. This is where Google Translate in Google Chrome comes in handy! Also, the IKEA gift card doesn’t have an expiration date. That’s pretty awesome!
Give some Netflix credit. Everyone appreciates that! Really, anything they may have a subscription with, you can look into getting credit for them…except for Amazon. Seems they only have this available for Amazon.com and not other country sites. Be aware of that. Double-check all the fine print to be sure whatever you purchase that your giftee can use on their account.
I had to include this. Sean suggested those monthly boxed gifts, but I wasn’t sure that idea existed outside of the U.S., if you find one and you think they’d love it, go for it! But this is one monthly gift that is probably available in a bunch of countries. If you are looking for one in the Netherlands, check out the TasteClub.nl. We haven’t tried it yet, but maybe one day… 😉 What I love about this one is that they send the subscription to the receiver and they set it up to account for their specific tastes. You aren’t getting them anything they wouldn’t like.
I love Rosetta Stone as a language-learning software, but any contribution to help your loved one get better at the language they will be immersed in will be super helpful. This is the perfect gift to give to someone who is moving abroad, too. Getting a head-start is key to being a bit more confident once they arrive in their new home. You can even order the gift card on Amazon which supports this website at the same time!
Gifts from stores you already know
There may be stores you know and love that are available where they are moving. Just Google the store and add the country name to check. Then you can order directly from there and have it shipped directly to them without having to worry about extra taxes and duties.
If they are a big traveler, consider off-setting their carbon for a set period or specific trips. This is a thoughtful gift for them and a great president to set. With all the traveling we all do, every little bit helps to off-set our love of travel.
Donate to a cause
Is there something they are crazy passionate about? Look into donating to that cause. Not everyone wants physical gifts or even money for themselves. If this is someone you know (whether they have moved abroad or not), look into doing something that will move the cause the love forward a bit.
Don’t send cash/gift cards not in their currency or for their local stores
If they come back often, and they have somewhere to ship purchases, then this might be okay. I’ve had people send cash through the mail, but it’s not a great idea because if it’s lost, then it’s gone forever! I just kept it until I went back to the United States and used it there. It’s just not the most convenient gift to give someone who lives abroad.
Find more inspiration: Small and useful gifts for travelers – a gift guide
Sometimes it’s just a matter of thinking about what kind of gift you would like to give and finding a way to make it happen. Just remember that if you ship a gift and put a value on it, the recipient may have to pay the taxes in their own country, so be sure to let the post office know it is a gift so they can help you fill out the right papers to avoid the surprise of having to pay money to get their gift.
Do you have any other suggestions? Please let us know in the comments.