10 Gifts You Really Shouldn’t Get Your Expat Loved Ones

1. Anything with a plug

I have two travel adapters. Well one, the other is broken and when I want to charge my phone and
laptop at the same time, I have to risk electrocution and twist a fork into the back of it. So, as much
as I appreciate the lava lamp and electrically bejeweled Eiffel Tower model, they’re staying in the

Actually, now that I think of it, I got an Irish extension cord when I was living in Germany. Literally
could not be less help. Wore it as a belt the following Halloween.

2. Glass

I like glass. Love it. If I could wear glass, I would but it’s cold and I’d look naked. But don’t send
me glass. When I move, I do so with one bag, and the last thing I need is to forget there’s glass in
my bag, sling it on my back and feel like I’ve been prison-style shanked.

3. Clothing

A cardinal rule of shopping for an expat, never buy them clothing. A scarf is the perfect idea, until
you find out they are going to South East Africa. So do us all a favor and steer clear of the coats,
scarves, gloves, shorts and flip-flops. Unless we’re talking about Jimmy Choo’s – I’ll wear Jimmy
Choo’s in Antarctica and look good doing it.

4. Fanny pack/Bum bag

I’m not Batman. I don’t need a utility belt, or a reason for people not to talk to me. So rather than
have me excitedly opening a box at Christmas, only to silently mouth words I can’t exactly repeat
here, let’s leave this unique fashion accessory to the chain-smoking Grandmothers at the Vegas

5. A picture of your family in period costume

Why? I mean what do you do with that? Frame it? I’m not framing it.

6. A book based in your home country

‘Yes I liked the book… No, I’m not coming home…Yes the characters really popped… Because
I’m happy here…Yes she reminded me of Aunt Mary. I’m still not coming home’.

7. Christmas ornaments

You’re right, I can’t get any in Jeddah and it’s a great gift. But only if you give it a few weeks early.
If not, then I’m sitting with a nativity scene the size of a small freezer with nothing to do with it.
You’ve pretty much just given me a box. A box I can’t use. You know, because there’s something
in it.

8. A book of German pickup lines

Yep, that’s what I want for Christmas, a reminder I’m still single. Thanks Mom.

9. A giant glass mirror
It does make my apartment look twice as big, thanks! And then you woke up from what was
clearly a dream, because that is an awful gift.

10. A guide on how to become a positive person

Ok, reading the list I just wrote, I might need this one.

Our guest writer Sam Malone is an Irishman living in Munich, Germany. As a masters graduate in continental American literature, he is qualified in two things: being a nerd and reading books.

Leave a Reply