“Soll ich das als Geschenk einpacken?” [Should I pack it up as a gift?] I love hearing those words any time I make a purchase in a German store (groceries excluded, of course). It’s a completely normal question here, but you’d never hear it in the US. If you want something gift wrapped there, you have to ask, it’s not always available, and it often costs extra.

Here in Germany, packing as a gift means more than just covering a purchase in printed paper. They usually do something a little extra to make it special. I love the offer and the idea of this so much that I’m often tempted to say yes even when the item I’ve purchased is for me–like the two gingerbread ornaments I bought at the flower shop, or the books I bought at my favorite bookstore. How fun it would have been to take them home and unwrap them. I’m pretty sure they would have felt like gifts I had given myself rather than just some “stuff” I bought.

In general, I notice an appreciation for small details here in Germany that I find much less often at home. A small candle on the table lit for dinner. A pretty leaf collected just because it was unique. A branch of ripe crabapples on the table for color. A bauble in the window. Fresh flowers. A hostess gift of a few pomegranates and a passionfruit. Sugar cubes on the saucer under my coffee cup. A pretty tablecloth. Tiny accoutrements are everywhere.

I think Americans tend to take a go big or go home approach, or else we keep it simple and functional. (Before you get your dander up, remember that I used the word tend; there’s rarely a statement that applies to everyone.) We make special things really special and we don’t often dress up the run-of-the-mill events.

Personally, I like the idea of adding a tiny touch of flair to everyday things. They make me feel special, and they really don’t cost that much extra effort–if any. I can’t help but think that it would surprise and delight others around me if I passed it on at home. It’s worth a try.

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