Sunday, November 8, 2009

'Across the Miles' Gifts to Send Overseas

Do you have family and/or friends that live inter-state or in another country? Do you face the same dilemma as me each Christmas? Choosing gifts that are suitable to mail and posting them on time, so that your loved ones receive their gift in time for Christmas? I must confess that in some years, I have missed the deadline for posting parcels and my family in England have received their presents in January.

This year, I am prepared! I have found some lovely gifts for my mum and my sister's family and they are all wrapped and ready to mail. I have checked the Australia Post website for last posting dates for International Air Mail but this information does not appear to be on their website yet. Last shipping dates are there (for sending parcels by sea post) but if you are considering this option - you have missed the boat! Check your country's mail service website for updates and information on mailing costs according to weight and standard card sizes - those small square cards may cost you more! Also very useful is the list of restrictions on what can be sent through the mail to other countries - I'd avoid sending those herbal eye pillows and the home made pot pourri and beeswax candles if I were you! Lots of food items appear on the restricted list. Wrapped commercial confectionery may reach its intended recipient but those delicious dried fruits you packaged up beautifully and the rose petal tea from your very own garden could be confiscated! Australia and New Zealand have very strict quarantine laws, especially when it comes to food and plant material, so warn your relatives who are sending gifts to you!

I hope to have my parcels posted before the end of November and this is why:-
1. I am expecting my baby in December
2. I do not intend to spend time waiting in the queues at the Post Office.
3. I want my family to receive their gifts by Christmas
4. There has been an ongoing postal strike in recent months in the UK which has created huge back logs of mail - If you are visiting here from the UK and can let me know whether this has been resolved yet and whether there is a likelihood of further strikes before Christmas, I would be very appreciative.
5. I wanted to share with you some gift ideas for gifts to send overseas, by showing you what I have found for my family this year! My budget for my sister's family was $50 (2 adults, 2 children) plus postage. Four quality gifts plus wrapping came in under budget at $45. I expect the postage to cost at least $25.
P.S I don't believe my sister reads my blog, otherwise, I would not be writing this post! If you are reading this sis - please leave me a comment! I hope you like your gifts!

I found lovely linen at a local gift shop. Linen is just perfect for sending overseas - lightweight, non-breakable and I was thrilled to find some lovely natural fabrics and feminine designs. A cotton apron bedecked in roses with a frilled hem and crocheted trim with for my mum who I know will appreciate a practical gift - this is something she will wear on many occasions and I know it will fit! I just love the fact that aprons are fashionable again and they are everywhere this season, there are so may designs to choose from and of course if you have a material stash and can sew, you can make them yourself - there are tons of patterns on the Internet. I chose to purchase aprons because I am extra busy with other crafts, I would have needed to travel to the fabric store in the city and the cost of the fabric plus the fuel would have been more than what I actually paid for the apron.

Aprons are a suitable gift for all ages - I sent one to my sister for her birthday last year and I could not resist purchasing one for myself in the same rose design. They also make good gifts for children, especially if you want to encourage their culinary skills. One lovely idea for a personalized gift is to make or purchase a plain apron and have it embroidered with the individual 's name - I purchased inexpensive black cotton aprons one year for my family and had our names professionally machine embroidered in silver thread at a cost of $5 per name. This was for a special occasion - my husband's 40Th Birthday which we celebrated with an 'All Black' Dinner Party - the 'All Blacks' of course are his country's Rugby Union Team. It made for a memorable dinner party as we served our guests a taste of New Zealand and our aprons have received ongoing use and are also a lovely reminder of a special family celebration. The black tablecloth I purchased for this occasion has also been used on many occasions - more to come on table cloths and colour schemes in a future post on setting the Christmas Table!

For less than $20, a personalized apron makes a wonderful gift for a friend who likes to cook. Fold it and wrap it in clear cellophane with the name showing, tie on some ribbon and maybe trim with a Christmas cookie cutter or special tag.

My sister is receiving a lovely Lingerie bag - this one is by Mozi, an Australian company which has beautiful linen in unusual designs. If your friend or relative likes cats then this design would surely appeal. I think it is gorgeous! Mozi also have tea towels in snazzy designs which are flat packed in card - perfect for mailing overseas. Look out for them in good linen shops and gift stores.

When you have sent enough koalas and kangaroos!

My sister has two young children and I do like to send them gifts from a 'Land Down Under'. I must say they have received their fair share of Australian animals on baby bibs, t shirts, and in colouring books - most people know we have kangaroos and koalas, so why not introduce your grandchildren, nephews and nieces living overseas to some more unusual native wildlife.

This furry guy is an echidna, he actually has spikes rather than fur and we have met one here at eight acres of eden up close and personal when we encountered him burrowing close to our garden shed. The echidna is not going to my nephews, they are growing up now but I could not resist putting him in the picture. I found him at the Australian Geographic store which has lots of children's toys including the more unusual creatures which inhabit this continent. My son wanted to pop into his grandmother's parcel, a tad oversize but very realistic looking, plastic red back spider. I advised him against it! She is petrified of spiders! You can visit Australian Geographic online if there is not a store near you

As I am trying to avoid plastic toys, I was looking out for wooden toys and found some at my local Post Office shop - a set of wooden pencils in a box which features a goanna as well as a kangaroo and a chunky wooden shark puzzle. The puzzle is by 'Wild Republic' which is an American company that does donate a portion of the sale of the product to a charitable foundation that provides housing, education and support to projects in impoverished countries.
Sadly, most of the 'Australian' gifts are made in China - even the ones from the Australian Geographic store.

I did however find beautiful cards, tags and gift wrap featuring Australian flora and fauna that is designed and made in Australia.

They are from 'earth greetings' and are printed carbon neutral in Australia on 100% post-consumer recycled paper with vegetable ink. The cards come in a pack of 10 and proceeds from sales go to 'Trees for Life' to plant 1 tree for every pack sold. It was the cockatoo design which caught my eye, so I bought one sheet to wrap my overseas gifts for family. The paper is very sturdy and most suitable for wrapping gifts that will have to travel through mail centres. Ever received gifts which were wrapped in thin budget wrap which was ripped to shreds by the time it arrived at its destination? At $3.75 a sheet I could not afford to wrap all my gifts in this paper, so I reused the brown paper bag my other gifts came in, to wrap the remaining presents.
These very special cards will be sent to family members overseas, especially older relatives who do not have computers who cannot receive emailed newsletters. The cards work out at just over $1 per card and the gift tags 50 cents each.

I found my earth greetings cards at my local wholefoods store and most of my gifts were purchased in my local town. 'Earth Greetings' have a website if you also like these designs and are searching for more Eco-friendly cards this year. Type the URL into your address bar, as I cannot get this link to work on blogger for some reason.

Other gifts I have sent in previous years to my family, include jewelry, clothing, books, Cd's and DVDS. If sending music Cd's I like to send music by Australian or Kiwi artists that they may not have heard of before. I have also sent a DVD to family that was produced locally for promotion of tourism - it features the stunning scenery of my local region and its attractions. It is presented by a well known national identity who lives locally. At a cost of $5 and packaged in a card envelope rather than a bulky plastic case, it is ideal for sending to friends and family overseas to show them the beautiful place which I am blessed to call my home. Check out your own local tourism centre to see if they have produced DVDs which promote the region where you live.

Also check the zoning for different countries on DVDs. It might not play in their DVD player. I was delighted to find that a movie about the life of Mother Theresa had universal zoning and this was a film my sister and her family really enjoyed watching. Just remember when it comes to movies and music - Have they seen it? It may pay to check and don't forget some of our Aussie characters are hugely popular overseas - your grandchildren may already own a collection of Wiggles DVDS!

I am sending my brother-in-law a book of devotions for Christian husbands and fathers. I know he will appreciate this but regarding books, even paperbacks can be heavy to send. I have weighed my gifts this year, so I have an indication of what I will be paying in postage. This is when you may wish to use online shopping. I have ordered gifts online and sent them from reputable online stores and well known chains. I do this for heavier items, breakables, flowers, electronics, books and last minute gifts - I sent my mum a fragile gift that I did not want to risk mailing, from one of my favourite English stores 'Past Times'. I love this shop! Check out their website for beautiful, unusual and nostalgic reproduction gifts which reflect 'days gone by'. You will find gifts for home, garden, children and men. I love their Victorian inspired jewelry and nightwear. I have just had a quick skim of their website and there are some fabulous items, the 'Dig for Victory' mugs caught my eye and the 'Senior Moments' gifts if you are looking for a gift for the in-laws! Would I dare to send my mother-in-law the 'Lady of the Manor' cushion - I don't think so but you might be braver than me!

And to finish, a true but funny story about a gift I sent to my nephews some years ago, which arrived at the most appropriate moment. My sister used to live in a typical British 'two up two down' terraced house; one morning some friends arrived on the doorstep to visit but her husband was still in bed. He was obviously in a deep sleep and was not waking up despite them all calling his name in unison up the stairs. At that very moment the postman arrived with a parcel from overseas - my gifts to her family. She gave in to her son's pleas and allowed him to open up the gift addressed to him. He excitedly ripped off the paper and showed his mum what Auntie Ann had sent him - my sister and her friends burst into fits of uncontrollable laughter when they saw the gift. It was a Wiggles Video entitled 'Wake up Jeff' - my sister's sleeping husband was indeed called 'Geoff' and what had they been calling up the stairs to him but 'Wake Up Geoff'! I would have liked to think that my family place their beautifully wrapped gifts under the tree to open on Christmas day but on this occasion it was revealed at just the perfect moment!

More gift ideas to follow in upcoming posts but if you have to send gifts through the mail this Christmas this post is for you ! Avoid the queues, the crowds and the stress of last minute shopping!

With love and joy,


  1. What excellent advice Ann! I love the gifts and that wrapping is just too cute:-)

  2. Ann You are ultra organised and seem to be enjoying each moment whilst me I am feeling stressed!
    Not very organised and with three of my own little 5 person family also having birthdays and Kinder and school orientation nights!
    Ugh! Christmas Is stressing me.
    When I read your posts it calms me and makes me refocus!
    Thanks ann...And How gorgeous does that wrapping look?

  3. your crackers are lovely! and i like the lingerie bag idea...

    what a fun idea for a blog-i envy your preparedness!!!

  4. Thankyou so much for your ideas. This is the first year I have to post all the presents as we aren't going up to Qld this Christmas :(
    I have actually taken notes on your ideas as I don't have any - I was considering ordering from Koorong & getting them to post the package to them.

    Thanks so much for your comment on my blog - I appreciate your openness & friendship. I've been thinking of you & wondering how you are going - esp with baby getting closer - how exciting!!
    Have a lovely evening
    Renata :)

  5. Hello, just wanted to let u know how helpful ur blog post was. i am trying to gather some ideas about ideal gifts to send :)
    Thank u!


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