Bringing your host family some gifts is a nice attention and great ice breaker. But what should you take with you? What do host families like?
Since I have been an au pair a couple of times now I have a fair idea of what to bring with you to a foreign country.
First of all, you don’t have to bring 3 kilos of gifts or spend hundreds of Euros on presents.
Try to find out more about the family and the kids. What do they like? What are they into?
How old are your host kids? What did you like when you were their age? Try to work in your own favorites and give your gifts a personal touch.
You want your gifts to be unique and individual. Don’t necessarily go for the stuff every au pair buys.
- Don’t buy anything you don’t personally like. Don’t get a book or a game you find uninteresting or don’t know at all, for example.
Here are some Julia Zucker ideas that will definitely help you find the right gifts for your host family:
- Books & Music
Books and Music are always a nice idea, especially when they mean something to you.
– What book did you love when you were your host kids’ age? I am quite sure you can get it in any language you need. Examples: Pippi Longstocking, A Promise is a Promise, Merry Christmas, Davy?, The Wild Soccer Bunch, The Little Ghost etc. I personally love the work of Eve Tharlet, Brigitte Weninger and especially Mira Lobe. Wimmelbooks are another favourite of mine! As I am a kindergarten teacher myself I can tell you they are the best for kids between 2 and 6 years of age: Wimmelbuch Austria, Wimmelbuch Germany
– Another thing almost every au pair gets is a picture book of their region or town. I personally am not a fan of it, as I think most host families look at it once and then it just sits in a bookshelf. So I recommend not getting it.
– What are you passionate about? Baking cookies, for example? Why not get a recipe book for baking? Or why don’t you create your own cook book? Maybe your passion is music? Why don’t you get a book about that topic, or a CD? Maybe even share music you recorded. Don’t expect your host family to use these things regularly though. It is usually the au pair who is engaged with gifts like that.
Either way make sure you leave a personalized note with your name and date.
- Games & Toys
What did you play when you were your host kids’ age? What do you enjoy playing yourself? What’s your favorite board or card game? Or maybe something more sporty? Jumping rope or badminton for example, or a tricot/jersey of your favorite team? Believe me, you are better off getting some games you enjoy yourself as you will be the one playing them with the kids. Personally, I love the brand Smart Games especially their IQ Puzzles.
- Candy & Food
You basically can’t go wrong with bringing yummy treats. Just make sure to avoid brands you can get anywhere these days like Oreos, M&M’s, Milka, Haribo, Lindt etc. Go for brands you can only get in your home country or a local specialty where you are from. Check the label. Does it say: Made in [home country]? As I am Austrian I think about brands like Manner, Mirabell, Zotter etc. So go and look for local brands you like.
What else is a specialty in your area? Vinegar, oil, mustard, tea, wine (not when you are underaged though), bonbons, chocolate, honey? You wanna go for that kind of stuff. Go local!
- Products from your area
Is your area known for manufacturing vessels or producing soap? Does your neighbor have alpacas and therefore produces her own products out of alpaca wool? Is your country known for producing hand made wooden toys? What could be a nicer gift than that? Find out what your area is known for.
Example: Mondschein Design
- Home made/Hand made
What could be more personal and unique than things you make yourself? Do you love sewing or knitting? How about some hand made socks or hats? Do you like photography? How about illustrating your own picture book or calendar? Does your grandpa makes his own honey? Do you make your own jam or juice? Do you make the best cookies in the world? Do you make music? Do you craft your own jewelry? Are you a potter? That’s the stuff you wanna bring, guys! Forget the rest.
- My little book
This is an idea inspired by the lovely Agnes Fox. I made a Julia book myself when I came to France and it was really worth it. It was basically a book with some pictures about my life, family, friends and hobbies. But of course you can make about anything you want. This is just an example. It gives the host family a chance to get to know you, since they don’t know much about you. It further helps the kids to understand what’s going on and who will soon be joining their family, especially if the kids are young. It’s a great ice breaker and kick-start. My host parents were pretty impressed and even told their friends about my book. If you have the time and feel like your host family will value the effort you put into this, you might wanna give it a try.
I am very sure that this post will help you find a nice gift for your future host family. Don’t forget that these are just ideas and that you don’t have to bring a suitcase full of presents. Also note that most of my recommendations are based on my personal background. In general just be yourself and don’t buy anything you don’t feel comfortable with.
Did you find my blog helpful? Why don’t you mention it or refer to it in your own blog/vlog? It would make my day.
Are you about to start your au pair journey? Then go and check out my post about What (not) to pack.