The Gifts that Mean the Most: Behind the Scenes of the Ria Holiday Video

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As familiar sights, smells, and songs fill the air this month, so does the pressure to find the perfect holiday gifts. But that perfect gift doesn’t need to be expensive, and you never have to worry about choosing when you send a money transfer!

You may be seeing this a lot from us, but we truly believe giving a little goes a long way.

We asked the stars of the Ria holiday video to share the gifts and holiday traditions that mean the most to them. In a year where many of us will be far apart from our loved ones, we believe the most valuable gifts are the ones that make us feel a bit closer together. And, spoiler: you won’t find any expensive new clothes or televisions on the list!

What gift did you choose to share?

A small painting from my aunt.

What makes this gift special to you?

My aunt’s art and constant creativity has always inspired my own passion for art and painting. I love collecting art that I am personally connected to, so it’s great to have something from family in my house when I’m far from home.

What is your favorite holiday tradition?

During most years when we are all together, my family has a huge cookie day, where we are baking and icing hundreds of cookies. My favorite cookie cutter is in the shape of a lobster. It’s a nice nod to our family in Maine and a fun shape to decorate!

What are you most looking forward to this holiday season?

I can’t wait for lots of nights with cozy socks and hot cocoa! And candy canes.

What gift did you choose to share?

A handmade jewelry box from Okinawa, Japan.

What makes this gift special to you?

It was given to me by a grandparent, and it’s a keepsake I have to cherish their memory.

What is your favorite holiday tradition?

Making and decorating lots of Christmas cookies with my mom and siblings to give to our friends and family.

What are you most looking forward to this holiday season?

My puppy’s first Christmas.

What gift did you choose to share?

A hand-painted painting about the African continent with local fabrics made by an artist from Goreé Island, Senegal.

What makes this gift special to you?

This painting connects me to my origins and my family. It is special because it reminds me of the history of places in Africa where I have been very happy.

What is your favorite holiday tradition?

Spending time with family and friends, seeing the Christmas lights, and having a hot chocolate and Churros at Chocolatería San Ginés, a very famous café in Madrid that has been open since 1894.

What is your favorite holiday food or sweet?

Roscón de Reyes and a hot chocolate cup. It’s a traditional Spanish Christmas cake with a crown to celebrate Epiphany or Dia de los Reyes Magos, the Three Wise Men Day. Some rolls have a small surprise inside of them (usually small figurines of wise men) and tradition goes whoever gets the roll with the surprise piece will have a lucky year ahead.

What gift did you choose to share?

A Singer sewing machine.

What makes this gift special to you?

Sewing is a skill my mother and late grandmother passed down to me. Making clothes was something we always bonded over. My mom gave me this sewing machine in college, and I used it to make all my bridesmaid dresses for my wedding.

What are you most looking forward to this holiday season?

Being able to see my sister-in-law, niece, and nephew for the first time in a while.

What is your favorite holiday food or sweet?

My mom’s homemade apple pie.

What gift did you choose to share?

A coffee mug given to me by my son.

What makes this gift special to you?

I have drank my coffee out of this mug every day for the past nine years. It was the first gift he ever gave me, and it reminds me of the start of parenthood.

What is your favorite holiday tradition?

Meeting with all of my extended family in the early morning following Eid prayers.

What is your favorite holiday food or sweet?

Sheer khurma, or sweet vermicelli.

What gift did you choose to share?

My dog.

What makes this gift special to you?

My dog came with me from the Philippines. Dogs are part of my family. I constantly tell people, this one is an immigrant.  My second dog, which we adopted in the US, is a citizen. Both have the same rights in our household.

What is your favorite holiday tradition?

Noche Buena, when we meet with our family on Christmas eve for a big meal after attending “Simbang Gabi,” or midnight mass.

What are you most looking forward to this holiday season?

Spending time without family is quite difficult because we look forward to being together all year. This year we are having all the small kids create a “parol,” a star-shaped lantern that signifies our Filipino Christmas celebration across nations.

What gift did you choose to share?

My cactus, Prickles.

What makes this gift special to you?

I am trying to get better at taking care of plants, and it’s special because it’s surviving. It’s very hardy, luckily.

What is your favorite holiday tradition?

Sleeping in, staying in my pajamas all day, and eating great food. It’s my preferred way to spend the holidays.

What is your favorite gift that you’ve ever given?

It’s kind of odd, but I got my family one of those outdoor heat lamps a few years ago. It allows my grandpa to sit outside even when it’s cold, which makes me happy because that’s one of his favorite things to do!

What gift did you choose to share?

My chunky furball of a cat, Felix.

What makes this gift special to you?

My son and I always wanted a cat, but his dad and grandmother are allergic to pet dander. We found out that Ragdoll cats are considered among the most hypoallergenic cats because they do not have an undercoat. So, we got ourselves a Ragdoll cat and he has been the best gift we’ve ever given ourselves.

What is your favorite holiday tradition?

Gathering and eating with my family and friends.

What is your favorite holiday food or sweet?

Filipino biko.

What gift did you choose to share?

Decorative Moorish heads from Sicily.

What makes this gift special to you?

They represent my bond to my Southern Italian origins and culture, and the diversity that I experience while working with Ria.

What is your favorite gift that you’ve ever given?

I surprised my boyfriend with a journey abroad to attend a concert of his favorite opera singer.

What are you most looking forward to this holiday season?

If I can, I am looking forward to spending some time with my family in my hometown.

What gift did you choose to share?

My dog, Gigi.

What makes this gift special to you?

She is a very good girl, and she makes me laugh.

What is your favorite gift that you’ve ever given?

I gave my parents a Spotify subscription and a speaker system, and we’ve been able to share and bond over music ever since!

What is your favorite holiday food or sweet?

We always make a huge brunch on Christmas morning while opening gifts. Everything tastes better on Christmas morning!

What gift did you choose to share?

An Idol of Gautam Buddha.

What makes this gift special to you?

This was the first gift I ever sent to my family while I was in the US.

What is your favorite holiday tradition?

Eating delicious foods with my extended family and friends.

What is your favorite gift that you’ve ever given?

A hand-woven sweater from Kashmir.

This holiday season, we know the importance of feeling close to the people you care about. With Ria Money Transfer, you can still have that connection. You don’t need to send much to make their day a little bit brighter.

Download the Ria Money Transfer app today to get started!

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