I always get very stressed out at this time of the month.

Nope, it is not because of exams. It’s also not because we are closing our Q4 accounts.

It’s because of Christmas present shopping. 🙁

And no, it’s nothing “nice” to do shopping in Helsinki at all, because I get so easily stressed out. In addition, The Engineering Boyfriend is pretty useless in these cases.

Like you ask, “Will person A like this?

He’d do a Sheldon Cooper: “En tieda en tieda–Don’t know!!“.


I think part of why I am so stressed over gift-giving here is because the “useful” attribute seems to be valued highly in Finland, at least to people close to me. People don’t usually buy random, pretty but useless stuffs.

But if it’s useful to them, they’d already have gotten it, so your second useful gift might become obsolete. And usually I don’t feel at ease at all buying “just useful” stuffs that aren’t pretty looking.

Shopping for Asian friends is easy-peasy, because I have many Asian friends, and I am relatively familiar with East-Asian, Southeast Asian, and South Asian culture and history. In short I know what people want–from grandparents to parents to friends to kids. So I know exactly what to get for acquaintances, clients, friends, close friends, and then family, and exactly where to get them. Shopping is inspired and efficient.

But shopping for my friends and family here is a nightmare, because I lack cultural sense. There is no intuition at all! 😀

I go to Alko, and I’m stuck. What kind of wine do I buy?! I go to Suomalainen, the bookstore, buy some books, only to discover a few days later the people you are giving these books to already have the (new) books! I go to Pentik and have no clue what to buy, because everything looks so shiny and home-y and decorative. But what if they hate my weird taste and the gift just doesn’t fit the decoration in their house?

I go to Stockmann and always end up at the food section, so whatever food I intend to buy as gifts always get eaten :X And I’m not sure if it’s ok to give fish for Xmas? haha!

So over the years, I’d written notes about what to buy, that are pretty non-intuitive:

  • Knives. Knives are actually super useful present for guy friends. Especially Swiss pocket-knives where the guy can bring around. Actually, it’s OK to give a kitchen knife as a Christmas present in Finland too. Guys really do appreciate them!
  • Exotic alcohol. I’d recommend McCallen 25 for important people.
  • Luxury Skincare. or any skincare/cosmetic products that is of a reputable brand. Like SK-II or Jurlique! But they don’t sell SK-II here.
  • Socks. I’d seen a lot of people receive socks here. And it’s useful coz’ socks keep you warm.
  • I think shopping for kids are easy because you just have to get them something shiny and novel. And just deliver the gift with a huge smile and enthusiasm!
  • Plants!! I buy my favorite professors flowers. Okay it is very embarrassing but I do fangirl over some of them :/
  • Chocolate? If there’s nothing else to buy? hahaha.
  • Personalized stuffs. I always head to Sinelli for these the materials!

Hmm–that’s about it.

Okay, round two of Xmas shopping tomorrow– I’d survive this!