Run to these convenient shops for last-minute gifts

Run to these convenient shops for last-minute gifts

by Stacy Roman
Stripes Europe

With the holiday season in full swing, festive melodies and delicious scents waft through the crisp, cold air. Living overseas during the holidays affords a great opportunity to find one-of-a-kind gifts and trinkets to send to loved ones back in the States. It is also a fantastic time to try out new traditions or add local flair to your parties and feasts.

Living in the States, many of us rely on Target, Walmart and other hypermarket-type stores to ease our holiday procrastination. It’s easy to find the perfect gift and also pick up ingredients for our marathon baking events and dinners. Here, the nearest Walmart and Target can be found only online, but don’t despair! There are some fantastic shopping options that are quite similar to our favorite big-box stores. Two of my favorites are Globus and Cora.

Globus is a chain of superstores throughout Germany, Luxembourg and the Czech Republic. Globus offers fresh, local produce, baked goods and groceries, office supplies, clothes, household goods, and, of course, a vast selection of beer and wine. As you walk in, be sure to look for the information desk. In Germany, Globus accepts Value Added Tax (VAT) forms. You can even save up your receipts for the month and submit them all at once on one form. Most store employees speak excellent English and can give you a guided tour if you’re feeling overwhelmed. You may even get some tasty free samples as you peruse the store.

During the holidays, seasonal gifts, trinkets and foods are located at the front of the store. If you need to fill care packages to send to love ones, you can easily find what you’re looking for. We purchased the majority of Christmas care package goods in one fail swoop by shopping at Globus. If you’re in the throes of a baking marathon and want to add a little local taste to your treats, pick up ingredients to make yummy Lebkuchen, or spices for authentic Glühwein if your baking experiments turn into dazzling displays of pyrotechnics. Not sure which wine to choose for your scrumptious goose dinner? Globus has a sommelier who can point you in the right direction.

Tip: Be sure to BYOB — Bring your own bags. If you forget, canvas bags can be purchased at the registers. They make great wrapping and insulation for your care packages.

Located just across the French-German border (approximately 40 minutes from Kaiserslautern), in the small town of Forbach, Cora has a fantastic selection of fresh produce, baked goods and items that are distinctly French. Ready to try your hand at escargots? Not only can you find a wide variety, but also "les fourchettes à escargots" to eat them like a pro. Cheesemongers will appreciate the hunks of fresh, savory cheeses pre-sliced and packaged for your convenience, most for a mere 2 euros. Pair with a crusty loaf of piping hot French bread, and you’ve got an easy meal.

Globus and Cora make shopping for the holidays simple, especially if you’re running short on time. In one easy stop, you can purchase last-minute uniquely European gifts and treats, as well as hard-to-find authentic ingredients to make a festive German or French meal.

Tip: Wine lovers rejoice! Three or four times a year, Cora holds a phenomenal wine sale. Wines from Alsace, Bordeaux, Provence and even Champagne are deeply discounted. The most popular sale is in September, which is a great time to stock up inexpensively on bubbly for the upcoming holidays.


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