I'm a 22 year old American citizen living in Germany with my German fiance, have been for 3 and a half years. I'm returning to the states to visit family for the holidays. I'll be staying for a little over a month and a half, roundtrip.
To start with: I know the customs form is specifically for imported goods, or foreign items I acquired in Germany that will remain in the US. However, the only things I will technically be importing are the Christmas cards I'll be gifting to family. I'm bringing everything else back with me to Germany at the end of the trip. Does this matter at all for what I can omit on the form?
If it doesn't and I have to list every foreign item I'm bringing, my questions are the following:
Can I group items together? Will they penalize me if they find something that very loosely fits into the generalization? For example, I'm bringing what is essentially art supplies: paper (from a sketchbook, a journal, and loose paper made into Christmas cards), a stapler, embroidery needles and floss, brushes, etc. Can I add up the market price of all these items, and list it under "art supplies" on the customs form?
If I choose a general grouping like "souvenirs" what can reasonably fit under that description? Would "sentimental items" work for items I'm bringing for my religious practice?
Is it a good idea to group "Electronics" if I'm bringing my smartphone, which was gifted, and a kindle, which was lent to me, or keep them separate? Speaking of, it's worth noting that literally all of the items I'm bringing are either inherited or gifted. Do I really have to look up the exact market price for each and every item to tally up the total, or can I guesstimate?
And general questions: I know it's not likely that I'll be randomly checked, but isn't it pretty much impossible to prove whether I did or didn't have a specific item last time I was in the states, especially if everything I'm bringing was gifted and not bought by me? I feel like I need to bring a signed letter or something from the people who gifted the things to prove I didn't buy anything I'm bringing.