So after years of doubting, months of planning, weeks of anxiousness, and hours of travel, you’ve finally made it to Madrid. You’re enjoying seeing the city and taking advantage of everything that it has to offer. You’re having new experiences and meeting new people, but sooner or later you know it’s going to happen: the day will come when you have to buy a gift for someone. So what do you get? Where do you buy it? Of course back home you would know how to solve this dilemma, but to make matters worse, you’re new in town and you don’t really know the future recipient very well. What are you going to do?! Where to Buy a Gift in Madrid?
Madrid, world-famous for its shopping
First off, don’t panic! As the Spanish say, “Todo tiene solución menos la muerte,” meaning that excluding death, any other problem can be solved. So what’s the solution? Let’s start by remembering that Madrid is a city that is world-famous for its shopping; thus, you certainly won’t have a problem finding something that will work as a gift. Perhaps the only difficult matter could be deciding exactly what to get. If the recipient is Spanish, there is maybe one thing to keep in mind, however. As you’re well aware, in America it’s very common to give people gag gifts or to get them something with a ‘joke’ theme. Although this facet of American gift giving attests to the grand sense of humor that Americans possess, it is not so typical in Spain (not so sure why though — who wouldn’t want the New Kids on the Block Christmas album on vinyl?). This being the case, you’re better off sticking to something ‘serious’, that is, some item that you know the recipient will actually like. Not sure what that may be? Well, in the worst case scenario “it’s the thought that counts”, right?
Where to go
Now that we’re in the right frame of mind, where can we actually go to get a gift? Assuming we don’t have anything in particular in mind and aren’t going to a specialty shop, the easiest thing to do by far is go to the center. The shops that line Calle Carmen, Calle Preciados, Gran Vía, Calle Fuencarral, and others offer a wide range of items — anywhere from clothing to books to electronics to just about anything. Sometimes it can be a bit overwhelming to have so many choices, but hopefully you’ll have at least some basic notion of what you’re looking for. One temptation that you may face while shopping around is to just ‘give in’ and get a gift card. Obviously if you’re buying for an American friend, this could be completely normal and acceptable. If you’re looking for something for a Spanish friend, though, this is to be avoided as it is perceived as impersonal; nonetheless gift cards are becoming more commonplace. Take some time to go look around and hopefully something will jump out at you. Just be sure to plan for extra time when the center is going to be busy, particularly on Saturday nights or around the holidays.
Only 30 shopping days until Christmas
Having to buy a gift for someone is of course something that can happen any time of the year. In a about a month’s time, however, it’ll be Christmas and we all know what that means — time to buy presents whether you want to or not. If you’ll be staying in country for the holidays you have it easy, but if you’re going home, get ready! The first time you back for Christmas is easy, though. The easiest and best thing to do is to take advantage of where you are and buy traditional Spanish products. Wine and olive oil always make for great presents; cheese can supposedly be taken into the US if it’s vacuum-packed. A great shop in the center that has Spanish products ideal for gift-giving is La Chinata (c/Mayor, 44). They sell a variety of items, all of which are made with olive oil. A gift basket from there will definitely do the trick.
We all know that Christmas shopping can be a bit of a pain, but it only comes once a year. Better get started now and beat the rush. And when it comes to birthday presents, your best bet is definitely to team up with some other folks and give a gift as a group. With a bit of luck all you’ll have to do is give someone the money and smile at the party, saving yourself the headache!