By Tameka Heath-Harding | jamaicans.com
When the Christmas season nears, anticipation builds in Jamaica, not just for the festivities but for a special ritual. Families are setting aside funds and bracing for the freight fees that come with the cherished tradition of receiving barrels from ‘farrin’ (foreign/abroad). These barrels, symbols of love and connection, are eagerly awaited. They’re typically packed with essentials—food, household items, clothes, and sometimes a few gadgets may or may not be included. If you know, you know. That said, despite the arm and the leg paid to Jamaica’s Customs Agency for clearance, the joy of uncovering the treasures inside makes it all worthwhile, if done right. Here are seven things your Jamaican relatives want you to know when packing Christmas barrels:
Send a recipient list
Collecting barrels can be the source of joy or contention based on how it is sent. To ensure your relatives know what to expect (and to check against any sticky customs fingers), send a detailed list of the barrel’s contents, ahead of its expected arrival date. On the list, specify who each item is meant for. This will prevent headaches and year-long malice among family members.
While your Jamaican loved ones want to receive items from the biggest American and UK brands, take the tags off before placing them in the barrels. They will appreciate the missed customs fees.
A barrel without the familiar aroma of Irish Spring or Dove soap bars might as well be sent back!
Don’t skimp on these scents; their scent is the hallmark of a proper barrel from abroad.
Food Essentials, Not New Tins
Go easy on the Campbell’s Tomato Soup (your relatives probably have leftovers from 6 years ago!). Instead, focus on essentials like the two-liter oils, large packs of flour, rice, and sugar and of course the basic staples – canned fish and some packs of macaroni and cheese. Pack enough food items to last at least three months.
If you insist on sending electronics, wrap them in the clothes and remove the tags.
Pro-tip: Phones are safe in shoes and laptops wrapped between a few thick wads of clothes.
Anything that can leak, from toothpaste to cooking oil, will leak.
Ensure containers are properly sealed and secured with duct tape. A spill can not only ruin the contents, but also, dampen spirits.
While the barrel might arrive during the holidays, think ahead.
Pack items useful for the upcoming year, like school supplies for January and fresh linen and sheet sets for the New Year.
As you pack your barrel for your loved ones in Jamaica, remember, it isn’t just about filling it with items. Pack it with thoughtfulness, care, and an understanding of their needs and expectations.
This Christmas, let your barrel be a true gift of joy. Tailor it to the hearts and homes of those awaiting it on the island.