So if you are like me and are planning a trip to a Russian-speaking country this winter, then you probably have started thinking about gifts you want to bring for friends, family, and other people that you don’t necessarily want to bring gifts but have to. J If you are not familiar with the Russian culture (please keep in mind that by using “Russian” I mean post-Soviet world) then you need to learn now that we never come empty-handed to someone’s house. If someone invited you for dinner or tea, make sure you bring something, even if it’s just a chocolate bar!
That’s why if you are traveling with your other half or are visiting old friends/relatives or even staying at a stranger’s house, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to buy some gifts on a budget! I’ve never heard anyone complain that someone brought them a gift… 🙂 You really can’t go wrong here. Unless the gift you bring is very strange. That’s why I’m writing this post so you can have some ideas about what people usually bring.
I’m going to share with you the things I like to bring back that are under $10. Keep in mind that for close friends and family I usually buy more expensive items and also very often ask them what they would like. The most popular request is some type of apple device! As an Android user, this request frustrates me a bit, but what can you do if it’s понты. Don’t know понты? J Google it!
So… here we go! The prices reflect the Northern Virginia area.
Maple Syrup – Trader Joe’s $9.99 for 4
You would be surprised but not a lot of people in Russia have tried maple syrup. Honey, yes. We have so many varieties and it’s absolutely delicious. Please try honey! But not maple syrup. I love this set I found at Trader Joe’s this week, because I can split it up into 4 small bags and give it to 4 individual people. If you already packed your suitcase and are over the acceptable weight limit than this is really not an option for you.
Tea – Trader Joe’s $7.99 for 6
The post-soviet world drinks a lot of tea. Much more than coffee. Very rarely will you be served tea at a café or restaurant in a form of a cup with hot water and a bag of tea (Culture Shock for me when I came to the US!). Usually, the tea is a leaf type of tea and you will have a personal tea pot. Mmm… So good. I thought these were cute as well from Trader Joe’s and I would also suggest to split them up and either combine with the maple syrup or give 2 to 3 per person.
Gum – Costco $7.99
I think when you bring food items from another country it’s always exotic. Even when it’s as simple as a piece of gum. Have kids that you will be visiting? Perfect thing to bring! I buy this at Costco and share with my friends. Everybody loves it and makes note of the fact that they are chewing “American” gum. Another option is to go to CVS and buy different types of American candy. That was pretty popular among my friends as well.
Macadamia Nuts – Trader Joe’s small bag $8.99
Macadamia Nuts are one of the most expensive nuts in the world and for Russians, who enjoy nuts, this would be a treat! I would go for the Trader Joe’s UNSALTED kind. (Another culture shock: Everything in US is salted: butter, nuts…why?!) The bag is not that big but for a special treat it’s perfect. Also, for women you can buy anything with Macadamia oil or Coconut oil (hair oil, hair products, etc). That seems to be pretty trendy now.
Calvin Klein Perfume Sets – Black Friday Deal at Macy’s – $10 each
I bought two of these sets this year because they are really a great gift for $10. The packaging is well done and this scent is not too strong. The size of the perfume bottle is small, so even if someone doesn’t like it, they won’t have a huge bottle that’s left over.
Want to know what other scents Russian women like? I can only speak for women in the range of 18-30ish. I would suggest the following: Versace Bright Crystal, Givenchy Ange Ou Demon Le Secret, Dolce and Gabbana Light Blue, Lanvin Eclat (My Favorite!!!), Givenchy Eaudemoiselle Eau Florale, Dior Addict 2. Please don’t treat this as a rule. These are just some popular scents.
Peanut Butter – $4.99 at your local store
As I mentioned, Russians love nuts, but they mostly eat walnuts and hazelnuts. Not so much peanuts. Same goes for Peanut Butter. A jar of peanut butter would make a great gift. Make sure you read the ingredients that it’s all natural and buy the UNSALTED kind. Russians read a lot about the “harmful” ingredients and if your jar has palm oil or something similar, it might not pass the test.
EOS Lip Balm – Costco Sale $9.99 for 6
You can buy 6 of these on sale for just $9.99 split them up and give them to 6 different women. Small cute lip balms. Very original and practical. Great small gift.
American Chocolate Bars $1.99-3.99
I would suggest grabbing a few chocolate bars with you. You never know when you need them and if you don’t end up giving them away, just buy those that you will eat yourself. 🙂
What things have you brought that were a hit? I would love to hear about your experience and your ideas!
Happy Holidays and Happy Shopping!