Sunday, November 25, 2012

Gift Giving and Packing for a Trip to Turkey

In about three weeks I will be getting on an airplane and heading to Turkey for a month-long trip.  Although I've already planned out (in  my head, of course) most of what I will bring, there are still some loose ends to tie up regarding gifts.

Tis' the season for gift giving so it shouldn't be all that difficult, right?  Black Friday was just a couple days ago and with Cyber Monday knocking on the door there are plenty of "super deals" out there to be had.  I've never played into these big shopping days and I'm fairly certain that it is all a scam, but the reality is that I do need to do some shopping fairly soon and I'm looking for ideas.
I love this!  Kudos to Owen Good at Kotaku for finding an old movie poster that seems to truly reflect the essence of the shopping Black Friday - "man-made monster is on the loose!"

"Why do I need to bring gifts?"  You might wonder. 

While some people in Turkey might celebrate Christmas (like Christians and ex-pats).  H.'s family does not.  Christmas will be just like any other day for them - except that H.'s nephew is turning two, so that should make it a fun, special day.

Gifts are not to celebrate any particular holiday, but instead are given as a response to warm hospitality.  Typical Turkish etiquette involves bringing chocolate or flowers to the host when invited for dinner.  On our last trip H. and I were invited to many, many dinners and breakfasts and afternoon teas and even for midnight fruit….    I loved it!  Meeting relatives and spending time eating good food with laughter all around - what's not to love.  Even though I only understood about 50% of what went on (and that was mostly due to H.'s translations) I enjoyed the atmosphere. 

I was prepared on that last trip with some local-themed gifts, but I did not expect to be getting gifts as well!  As our trip winded down and we were getting ready to leave, H.'s relatives surprised me with the most generous presents - many different locally made Turkish handicrafts - the best possible gifts for a girl like me.   I was taken aback by all the generosity - and this was aside from the overflowing hospitality I received throughout the entire trip. 

Now I am heading back to Turkey where we will attend wonderful family dinners and breakfasts and teas.  I am planning to head back with my arms full. 

I'm still brainstorming some good gift ideas.  Here is what we have so far: Ghirardelli chocolates, a combination of souvenirs that we have purchased on several trips in the past 18 months, some locally handmade gifts and toys for some of the young kids.

Despite the Italian name, Ghirardelli's is a true American company
(or as far as I could tell)
(Image from Ghirardelli Website )

I'm looking to fill up my suitcase - any suggestions?  


  1. giving dilemma! Whenever we host one of my husband's Turkish colleagues for dinner, they always bring a gift from Pasabahce of course. :-)They love this store! But from America - good chocolates (After 8 and Lindt truffles are good too), possibly nice fabrics or different tableware from the US. Women love namebrand billfolds/small purses from the U.S. What's from your area? Any local food items? Iyi yolculuklar!

    1. Thanks for all the suggestions Joy! I had never heard of Pasabahce - I just googled it - beautiful glasses! I may have to check it out when I am in Turkey. Truffles would indeed make another great addition to the gift pile. Also, I didn't even think of bringing fabrics - thanks for the idea! I'm from the Midwest, there are a few local food places that makes jams and sauces - maybe I can find something they haven't tried... I'm personally a fan of BBQ sauce, but I can't picture that sweet, spiciness merging with Turkish food :-)


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