DEAR HARRIETTE: My father is planning a trip to his home in Poland over the next holiday season. I am excited to see my family, and we will make multiple stops in Poland to visit most of the relatives. I will not have been to Poland in two years, and it being the holiday season, will I be expected to have a gift from America for every family member I see? I will visit upwards of 20 family members, and do not want to overpack the suitcase and use all of my spending money. Do I have to bring everyone a gift? Could I buy some of the gifts in Poland? I know it's awhile away, but I am already worried. -- Thrifty Holiday, Greenwich, Connecticut
DEAR THRIFTY HOLIDAY: Whether it's holiday time or not, you definitely should come bearing gifts for each family member. Trust that just a small, affordable memento from America will be treasured by whomever receives it.
Rather than fretting about the cost of these items, consider some options. First, talk to your father and ask him if you can pool your resources and purchase gifts as a family for everyone. Tell him how much you can comfortably contribute, and ask him what he is able to give.
Make a list of all of your family members. Think about what they might appreciate. You can select anything from American candy to miniature likenesses of the Statue of Liberty or Mickey Mouse. Consider beauty products, like fingernail polish, that travels well. If you subscribe to magazines, consider bringing your old copies as giveaways. Books are great gifts as well. Depending on where your family lives and their interests, these things may not be readily accessible to them.
If you are up to it, you could also make gifts for the family. Something made with love specifically for them may be hugely popular.