NoVA Twin Mom lives in the DC Suburbs with DH and twin 2 year olds and an Au Pair. She writes:
“Our first au pair left in mid-January, so we were very aware that anything she acquired in December had to be lightweight and easy to pack! These are some of the gifts that have been big hits with our au pairs.”
1. Charm Bracelet
My Go-To gift for our au pair – given at their birthday or Christmas, whatever falls first in our year, is an “old fashioned” sterling silver charm bracelet.
Not the Pandora kind (though if that’s in your price range, it would work too) – the kind that were really popular in the 60s or 70s. I get a “starter bracelet” from Snapfish or Shutterfly, where they’ll put pictures of my kids on the initial charm. I tried a picture with all three of them on it once, but the faces wound up so small they were hard to see. One charm per kid works much better. Both sites have “Some percent off everything” sales periodically – this is when I pick up the bracelet.
Next, I go to eBay and search “_______ Sterling Silver Charm”, sometimes adding “vintage”, to find a charm for places the au pair has visited during her year, as well as something to represent our home area. Our first au pair told me that in Sweden, the backdrop newscasters use when reporting from the US was the US Capitol Building. So her “DC Area” charm was of the US Capitol. Our current au pair will accompany us to the National Christmas Tree Lighting outside the White House, so her “DC area” charm will be of the White House. They all seem to go to New York City, so they get a little charm of the Statue of Liberty, if they go to Philly they get a little Liberty Bell. There are usually “outline” charms for each state too, so our trip to Minnesota this summer will be represented by a little map of Minnesota. A kiosk at our local shopping mall will attach the charms to the bracelet for a small fee (just remember to ask to have the soldered or they might fall off!)
The side benefit of this gift is that my relatives that are looking for a gift for our au pair can get her a charm for her bracelet – they usually cover my home state, where we visit during the summer. And we can add more charms for their birthday if that falls later in the year!
2. A Christmas stocking that matches my girls’ stockings.
Some folks find theirs at PB Kids or LL Bean (or Etsy, says cv), I’ve had great luck with the Personal Creations website. All three stockings hang on our mantel (or will, once this year’s au pair’s stocking arrives) until Christmas, and the au pair takes hers home with her. Her stocking tends to be filled with items from the Dollar Spot at Target – but so are my girls’ stockings.
One (unexpected) big hit last year was ponytail elastics – she was down to something like three “hair rubber bands” but didn’t want to buy more because she was leaving soon. She also developed a taste for Reese’s Peanut Butter cups, so those were in there as well. I don’t remember exactly what else was in there, but I know there was lipgloss. :) And the little hand sanitizer from Bath and Body Works. And probably some Christmas socks.
[See an early AuPairMom post: Christmas Tip: Make sure your Au Pair has a stocking ]
3. A copy of Clement Moore’s The Night Before Christmas.
You know it – Twas the Night Before Christmas, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. I try to find a “nice” version – there’s a beautiful pop up version that came out a few years ago, for example. I explain that this is THE famous American Christmas story, and that everyone knows how the story starts, even if they don’t know the whole poem.
4. Gloves that work on Touchscreen Phones.
These were really expensive a few years ago – and still can be – but Target sells a Merona brand set that is around $10. The thumb tip and “pointer finger” tip are a different color than the rest of the glove. And I use them myself daily while waiting for the commuter bus, so I know they work!
5. A White House Christmas Tree ornament.
(These are sold in many places in our area as a fund raiser for the White House Historical Association). We have a collection of one from every year since I moved to the area on our tree, so a reminder of our tree when she’s at home. If someone in your area sells a certain ornament every year, especially if the year is on it, then maybe that’s your version of this. Otherwise, Hallmark sells dated ornaments that hold photos – so maybe one with your au pair and kids in a photo.
6. A map that helps you collect the 50 state quarters.
Last year’s au pair enjoyed this. The map could be a gift idea, but the suggestion I wanted to pass along was that just before she left, I made her tell me which states she was still missing. She was only three states/territories short of her goal, so as part of her farewell gift I went on eBay and bought the last three quarters for her. It cost me about a dollar for each quarter (so about $3 total in this case), but it made her day – she didn’t want to bring home a partially completed map, but none of us had ever seen a Northern Mariana Islands quarter, for example. So eBay came to the rescue.
7. Foamy Soap (really)
One thing that was a much bigger hit than I expected last year was the “foamy soap” that they have at Bath and Body Works. My mom puts one in each of our stockings, so last year’s au pair got one too – and when she came to visit a few months ago, that was one of the things she wanted to bring back to Sweden!
8. Matching PJs
We did this last year. Not sure if that will be an ongoing thing, since not everyone needs a new pair every year. We got everyone — including the au pair — PJs that matched.
9. A “Hoodie”.
Separately, the grandparents like to get something for our au pair for the holidays. I often recommend hoodies – something that’s pretty “American”, and sizes tend to be forgiving (it can be a little baggy and still be OK). Bonus points if the hoodie is from somewhere the au pair has visited!