December 8, 2011

Top 10 holiday gift ideas for au pairs

3 minutes
Cultural exchange

Are you looking for just the right thing to put under the tree for your au pair? We asked some host parents to share their ideas for au pair gift-giving this holiday season and this is what they came up with…
1. Personalized gifts with kids photos
Chicago Mom on says: “Some stores have blank snow globes where you could slip in two pictures—one on each side—so for a Christmas gift, I slipped in a picture of our house decorated for the holidays (of the outside, complete with the fallen snow and bows and lights), and a picture of the kids on the other side. [Our au pair] loved this (snow globes seemed the rage with her and the other au pairs – they don’t have many of these in Bolivia I guess).” You can also choose to create a photo book or frame her favorite photo.
2. Tickets to a local game or show
Lots of au pairs would love to experience a local game or show but won’t spend the money themselves to get there. Two tickets from you (so she can take a friend) is usually much appreciated. Says one host mom online: “We live in the NYC area, so we always splurge and give our au pairs two tickets to a Broadway show. Everybody loves this. I got the idea from a very experienced host mother with whom I work.”
3. Gift cards
While not very personal, gift cards are certainly practical and appreciated by au pairs who would love to do more shopping. “I either give a spa gift certificate or an iTunes gift card,” writes Annette, veteran host mom, when asked about her gift-giving traditions. Starbucks, Amazon and iTunes are also safe bets.
4. Popular book series
Introduce your au pair to a new book series this year! Former au pairs have appreciated young adult books because it helps them improve their English comprehension skills at the same time. Check out the latest young adult novels at your local book store or online.
5. Warm winter gear
Au pairs who live with host families that get cold weather are rarely outfitted with the proper gear to keep them warm. Jenny Berryman Horne, a host mom from MA says, “We gave our au pair gloves and a scarf last year since she was from a warm country and needed them. We may do this again, too, as a stocking stuffer.” Ines Cortes, another host mom in MA shares, “Our gift to her will be something she has wanted but found too expensive: a down winter coat. She suffered a bit last winter, and knowing our son Julian, she will be outside quite a bit and needs to be warm.”
6. Slippers/pajamas
Since sizing and taste is more forgiving in the case of sleepwear, it’s often a safer gift for au pairs. Host mom Susan Robinson agrees: “Anyone can use another pair of pjs!”
7. An extra suitcase
If you’re after a gift that you know your au pair will use, it doesn’t get any more practical than an extra suitcase or duffle. She’s going to need it to get all of her stuff back home at the end of the year! Target, TJ Maxx, and Marshalls all have great quality and inexpensive suitcase options.
8. Jewelry
It might normally be risky to give au pair jewelry, but Alex and Ani bracelets are a sure thing. They are inexpensive, made out of recycled materials and all the rage right now with young women. The best part is that each bracelet has a different symbol or expression like: Statue of Liberty, “Thank you”, “Pursue happiness”, lucky clover.
9. Travel guides
Is your au pair planning a trip somewhere fun? A travel guide book is a great gift option. Says Samantha Janney—a host mom and Cultural Care staff member—”We have typically given our au pairs a guide book for a trip they’re planning and they love it.” Lonely Planet and Frommer’s books are good choices.
10. Stocking and/or ornament
If everyone in your household has a stocking, your au pair should absolutely have one, too! Ornaments are also a popular gift. You can find personalized stockings and ornaments at a variety of retailers online.