What Do Au Pair Host Moms Want for Christmas?

by cv harquail on December 10, 2017

For Au Pairs in Host Families who celebrate Christmas…

“What do you want for Christmas?”

il_570xN.1201597599_elhn (1)I’m never able to answer that question.

Some years I remember to keep a running list of things I want (e.g.,  sports headbands, a black-ish pair of outdoor running shoes, a pair of Uggs to replace the ones with holes in them, …).

Right now, last year’s list is pinned up on the kitchen bulletin board. You know, where no one actually looks at it.*

Other years, I’m just too embarrassed to admit what I want (a Starz subscription so that I can legally watch the latest season of Outlander) or it’s nothing anyone else can buy but me (a new riding helmet).  So, I think my family struggles to figure out what to get me.

Our au pairs have given me some wonderful gifts — a jewelry box I use every day, a “waterfall over rocks” from CVS that is surprisingly lovely to listen to in my office, a devotional day planner, handmade Christmas ornaments, just to name a few. And also some intentioned and serious misses (like the rose-scented hand creme, which doesn’t work for this lavender-lover.)

It is all easier if we make lists. Santa keeps trying to remind us.

Sure, if we make a list we don’t get a surprise, or the special delight of having someone show how well they know us by picking something perfect. But we DO get something we want (and that’s easy to be excited about and thankful for).

When au pairs are spending their pocket money and/ or their time  to get you something meaningful, can we help them out?

If you could ask your Au Pair for some thing for Christmas (a thing being something they could wrap and hand to you, or put under the tree?) what would it be?


* another great place to look would be my list of Etsy favorites, which features this darling fox (as well as several other fox, hedgehog, and horse items) You can find him at ForSoulAndInterior on Etsy.


DCmom December 11, 2017 at 10:29 am

I admit that I’m a terrible person to shop for most of the time, except for my husband because I can mention some expensive household appliance (I don’t have an InstaPot yet or my iPad has a cracked screen…) and it will appear. For APs, however, I’m aware that they have much less money so that’s where their talents/interests come into play. Like photography? Why don’t you take some nice pictures of the kids and send me the digital files? Like arts and crafts? Why don’t you plan some cute craft and do it with the kids? Like to cook? I’m happy with a batch of cookies/holiday bread/cake/etc. If all else fails, then ask for something simple like a brand of organic tea or a pound of coffee beans from a local roaster. I’m all about the consumable gifts that will get actual use rather than cutesy stuff that may get regifted at next year’s white elephant office party. I’d rather the AP focus on gifts for the kids that she knows they’ll enjoy rather than worrying about HPs, hence the unglamourous list.

Amanda December 11, 2017 at 10:53 am

Totally agree with you. These are great ideas. The best gift I’ve received from an au pair was my first Mother’s Day; she made me a little flower pot with my baby’s hand prints all over it and a small plant inside. So thoughtful, and so cherished.

NoVA Twin Mom December 11, 2017 at 12:24 pm

Pictures. Pictures of the kids that I haven’t seen or didn’t have to organize. Even candid pictures you took of the kids on the playground one day. I always love getting pictures of my kids.

Cookies from your home country (either storebought or homemade) are also good.

Should be working December 11, 2017 at 12:27 pm

I agree with DCMom, I always wanted my APs to focus on kids’ gifts. For me it was wonderful if they put a nice photo of themselves and kids into a frame (not expensive!). That’s the sort of thing I love and never get around to doing. Also a homemade card with genuine sentiments and gratitude for my host-mom-assistance is frankly for me really a pleasure.

I also would say very loudly over dinner or wherever, “Boy, I could really use some kid-made stuff, like drawings, poems, a song, coupons for specific events (like help in the garden) . . . “. One AP was great at painting t-shirts with kids, to give as gifts.

Mimi December 11, 2017 at 6:02 pm

We are not a big gifting family in that we prefer experiences over things. We’ve always asked our APs to share a personal experience with us for the holidays, whether a special meal or sharing a special tradition. This is where a big piece of the cultural exchange comes for us. For actual gift things, photos is definitely a great idea. One of our APs who was especially into photography did a beautiful collage of the kids for us one year that is still on our living room wall 6+ years later. We also do an ornament exchange every year and this is a way we keep our APs with us in spirit every year.

2 kids and a cat December 12, 2017 at 2:18 pm

One AP gave us a gift card to the movies with a coupon for free babysitting. (We don’t ever go over hours, or use Saturday nights since we’re with Cultural Care — so we didn’t use the coupon but it was a nice gesture).
Another went to an international market and got some foods from her home country to share.
I agree on pictures of the kids in an organized, electronic file, and experiences for the family — maybe there’s a local activity the AP wants to do but the family hasn’t proposed yet?

HMA December 21, 2017 at 4:34 pm

I feel like anything from the heart is a good choice. I cringe when I know my au pair has spent a lot of money on me. Some more ideas are teaching kids a song from your home country,a little dance routine, poem or skit that they could perform on Christmas. Crafts are always good or having the kids write a story. Pictures like the above have said are great or making a movie compilation of the videos you have taken of the kids. I have had au pairs do coupon books (which I never cash in, I think most HF feel guilty about using them) I have had an au pair clean and make dinner without me asking before and that was a nice surprise.

Something Clever December 29, 2017 at 10:54 pm

Though this wasn’t her actual gift to us, our Mexican AP made a huge batch of tamales for us. They were awesome!

Something Clever December 29, 2017 at 10:57 pm

A couple of APs have made calendars with our kids photos from Shutterfly. Always a great gift. One made photo refrigerator magnets.

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