Celebrating Your Au Pair By Creating Experiences

by cv harquail on February 15, 2014

Often when we want to celebrate a milestone with our au pair, our thoughts turn to gifts of things.  

We don’t feel embarrassed turning to gift cards and cash, because we know that our au pairs are often saving money for travel or for some special item at Urban Outfitters.  We tend to recommend to each other gifts like scrapbooks, kids’ crafts, and sentimental jewelry, because these sorts of gifts seem to help us capture and store memories that we know an au pair will want to return to many years after their time with us.

festivalYet, if we take seriously the research about what really makes people happy, we recognize that sometimes the things that make us happiest are not gifts of things, but experiences themselves. It’s time spent doing something fun that can create the most happiness for an au pair.

So if a big milestone is coming up for your aupair, what experiences could you create for them or give them to help celebrate?

As AlwaysHopefulHM writes–

 I’m looking for ideas for celebrating a milestone… Our current au pair will reach the 6 month mark with us in a few weeks.  Things have not been perfect, but he has been a true member of our family, and we’ve been really happy to have him as our au pair. I’d like to do something to commemorate the milestone. Based on our experience with our last au pair (who cringed at money gifts) and my own preference for a more personal show of appreciation, I wasn’t really leaning towards giving a bonus or gift cards, etc.  I really would like to think of an activity we could share…either with just the family or with his friends in tow.

Oh, and I’d love to be able to surprise him!

Host Families– how have you celebrated milestones with your au pairs?

Be sure to see this great guest post by HRHM: Give Your Au Pair The Gift of Travel 

Image: from Flickr, Festival AttributionShare Alike Some rights reserved by Eva Rinaldi Celebrity and Live Music Photographer



cv harquail February 15, 2014 at 3:50 pm

I might look for activity ideas on Groupon or LivingSocial — I often get promotions for pole dancing classes (not recommended for au pairs), for dinners to Medieval Times, or for traveling events like the Harry Potter Costume Exhibit or my personal favorite from last year, Dinotopia!  

These are activities that I’d never actually think of if I were staring at a blank piece of paper, but when the offer comes across my email I think “why not?” I’ve been pretty surprised by how much fun we’ve had at events I would have scoffed at if it was just for me– but when it’s about creating something memorable for others, sometimes the crazier the better!

WestMom February 15, 2014 at 7:06 pm

We are about to turn our 6m anniversary as well. This year, we are going out to dinner at a nice restaurant with cuisine from her home country. It’ll be an unexpected surprise on a regular day :)

Taking a Computer Lunch February 15, 2014 at 7:44 pm

I like buying events for APs, some with family and some for her to invite a friend or two. I don’t necessarily celebrate milestones – most of my gift-giving comes at the end of the year. I buy tickets to concerts and plays that take place in museums or small theaters in my community – things an AP wouldn’t necessarily see. I have also given gift certificates to her favorite restaurant (or cuisine) – enough to cover the cost of dinner for 2 or 3 people. This goes over well at the end of her year – it’s a time when she’s saying goodbye to lots of people, not just us. I would recommend buying tickets to a sporting event,a family activity, or even cooking his family meal and celebrating a 6-month celebration at home – something bonding with family. It depends on how old your kids are. I don’t think you need to spend a ton of money. A nice home-cooked meal and a card with words from your heart is probably enough. Save the hoopla for the completion of a successful year.

AlwaysHopefulHM February 15, 2014 at 9:17 pm

These are great ideas– thanks! Funny– I used to receive groupon emails, but they stopped coming (maybe because I never purchased any?). I’ll look into that again. We’ve also been talking about trying a local restaurant with his home cuisine. I was thinking we might try it this week, but maybe we can “save” that for a milestone dinner, and possibly invite a friend or two along. (wouldn’t want more than that, because the restaurant is kind of pricey!) TACL, I like the idea of a special home-cooked meal, but there are 2 complications: 1) I’m not that great a cook, and 2) we eat together as a family almost every weeknight, so it may be hard to make that seem special. I really like the idea of tickets to community concerts and plays also… All really great ideas. Thanks so much all! And, CV thank you for posting my question so quickly! I had no idea it would go up so fast.

American Host Mom in Europe February 16, 2014 at 11:35 am

Maybe not special enough for a milestone, but I often get my au pairs gift cards to the movie theatre chain where we live (there’s just one). I get it for enough that she can take a friend and have enough for a snack — movies are pricey here. Gives a bit of an experience and promotes social activity.

Multitasking Host Mom February 16, 2014 at 5:49 pm

I always prefer giving our au pairs an experience instead of a gift. (They already have so much stuff anyway, and one of the reasons they came here is to experience what the US has to offer.) One got sports tickets to the local professional team for her and a friend. To another, who loves animals, we gave an up-close encounter at our local zoo. But both of these were Christmas gifts. I think it is great that you want to celebrate the 6 month mark, but I agree that money (in some form) is probably not the right way to mark it. I would recommend something more on the smaller side like dinner out with the family to the au pairs favorite restaurant. I think just the fact that you are doing something would go along way with the au pair.

TexasHM February 17, 2014 at 10:19 am

I agree I have never thought of doing something for the 6 month mark and I have not heard of any other HFs in our area that have either so just the thought and whatever you do hopefully will be a surprise and have an impact. We often do things that incorporate the APs interests so for example, for Christmas with our very girly AP we got a gift certificate for a haircut, mani and pedi at a nearby salon. I realize for a bropair that may not be helpful but you might look at what he does in his free time and expand on that. Our did her nails and hair in different ways regularly so it was the perfect fit for her. Or do little things that are themed like if he likes movies you could get him a couple red box codes, popcorn, candy etc and tell him he can have a movie night with buddies at your house. I don’t think it needs to be really expensive, especially since its not a birthday or Christmas or end of term but you could still do something nice without spending a ton. If it was a more sentimental AP I would say throw together a photo collage video of the first 6 months or have the kids make a collage or something special they can take home.

Happy Host mom February 18, 2014 at 9:54 am

For birthdays, I will make the AP’s favorite meal that she likes from my cooking repotoire (don’t worry not as fancy as it sounds) and have a cake and the kids make presents. I agree that experiences are a great way to mark special occassions and birthdays. What about a gift certificate for a massage at the spa?

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