Last year around this time, I was already getting stuff together for my Au Pair year (even though I didn’t actually move to England until the end of August). Part of that was finding suitable gifts for my host family. Showing up with a bunch of presents is an easy way to bribe the host kids into liking you. Looking back, I didn’t buy that many gifts (almost nothing compared to the big bag I’m bringing back this year).
Remember: you don’t have to buy them anything if you don’t want to. And if you do want to buy them something, it doesn’t have to be really big and expensive. It’s about the gesture. Something small that you put some thought into is going to be much more appreciated than something expensive that no one actually uses. Also, when you’re moving from overseas, you won’t have a lot of room in your luggage.
I went to a little Dutch souvenir shop and got them tiny clogs, stroopwafels (Dutch biscuits) and some other Dutch foods. Nothing crazy.
Some gift ideas that you can take with you for your host family:
- Food that is typical for your country
- A photo calendar from your town or country
- A book with traditional stories or fairytales (this can be in your own language or translated into the language of your host country)
- Toys, ideally ones that are typical for your home country, such as colouring books, stuffed animals or board games. These are presents for the kids that will also make your life easier. In your first few weeks, you can teach the kids games that you used to play and read them stories from your home country.
If you really don’t know what to get for your host kids, you can always ask your future host parents about what they like. The better you know what your host family likes, the easier it will be to pick suitable gifts. Personally, I don’t think you can ever go wrong with a big bag of sweets. Just make sure the kids brush their teeth after!