In Japan, when the year nears its end, it’s time to start thinking about oseibo (お歳暮). Oseibo, which literally translates to “year end,” is the name for both the gifts given at the end of the year and the “season” of year end-gift giving. Originally meant as an offering to Toshikami (年神), or year end-god, and as gifts to place on the graves of ancestors, they are now gifts given to show gratitude to those to whom a person feels indebted. Oseibo season is around mid to end of December, most people aiming to deliver their gifts by December 20th at the latest, though the unofficial period of oseibo giving is December 14th to the 20th.
Oseibo gifts are given to those you wish to express gratitude towards or those who you feel you owe a debt, usually because they have taken care of you or helped you out over the year. Recipients usually include family members, especially older ones, your physician or doctor, your landlord, teachers, superiors at your place of business, or your good customers.
The best oseibo gifts are practical goods that can be used then discarded, such as foods, drinks, seasoning, and in some cases detergents and soaps, or gifts that you know will be useful or important to the person who is receiving them. Most stores and even some post offices will carry gift boxes that you can buy and either bring to the recipient or, as is becoming common, have it delivered. It’s always good to keep in mind not just what you think the recipient will want, but also something that will fit with their lifestyle. The value of the gift given is determined by how much gratitude or debt you feel towards the person who will be receiving the gift and by how close you are. The gift prices can range anywhere from twenty dollars to as high as three hundred dollars, but the average is usually from twenty to fifty dollars.
For oseibo season, Asahi has stocked a large variety of oseibo gift boxes, such as senbei variety boxes, wagashi boxes, and Japanese cookies. We also have a variety of gift-sake, which are pre-boxed or wrapped. All of the gift boxes are delicately wrapped and ready to gift.