You should definitely bring your host family a gift. But the question is, what gift should you give them?
Bringing a gift shows your host family that you are grateful to be included in their lives. Whether you're living with this family for two weeks or two years, a gift goes a long, long way.
Here are my suggestions for what gifts to bring your au pair host family.
Bring a gift representative of home state or country.
My friend's homemade chokecherry jam from Montana
I would highly recommend bringing a speciality from your home state or country. A gift from your home city or country seems special, thoughtful and uniquely you.
For example, I brought my host mother in Argentina a slab of Mackinaw Island fudge, a speciality of my home state of Michigan. She really enjoyed it, and I think the fact that I brought a sweet treat from my home state made it more special.
Gifts that represent your state or country:
- Local jam or honey
- Post cards or pens with your home state
- A coffee table book with photographs of your home state or country (like this Ansel Adam's one of American's National Parks)
Bring food – it's always a crowd-pleaser.
A lot of families have too much stuff and would much prefer food over a material possession.
Plus, what better way than to share a bit of your culture? Bonus points if it's something the kid will love – like brownies or chocolate chip cookies.
Food gift ideas:
- Brownie mix or chocolate chip cookie mix
- Gourmet barbecue sauce
- Hot cocoa mix with mini marshmallows (to make for the kids!)
Pro-tip -make sure to check what foods you can bring into the country. Once I had dried cherries taken away from me at customs – bring food that is bottled, canned or dried!
What not to bring
Don't bring a present for each member of the family.
I did this once and it's a terrible, terrible idea. A, it's way too expensive, and B. you haven't met the family, so you have no idea what to get them. Plus, you're not going to know what to get the dad, I promise.
Don't give the family something they could buy anywhere.
Bringing a lame gift is almost worst than bringing no gift at all, so whatever you do- no cheap mugs or mediocre chocolate.
Don't bring a gift representative of their country.
Au pairing in France? Don't bring a bottle of wine. While that might sound like a good idea it's really not- they know their own country much better than you do!
However if you're au pairing somewhere that is not France, go for it!
And of course, DON'T show up empty-handed!
I did this with one host family and I really think it set things off on the wrong foot.
Other useful posts about au pairing: