Get Your Au Pair an American Flag, says TexasHM

by cv harquail on June 13, 2014

Happy Flag Day!

Flag Day is a special day for our neighborhood — it’s my next-door neighbor and friend Michael’s birthday. Every year his wife decorates their front porch with flags and has the neighborhood over for cake to mark the dual celebration.  6136554217_d698b79e0b_z

But even without the cake, it’s still another fun reminder for a ‘cultural exchange’ with your au pair.

Flag Day is also a great reminder of a gift that you can get your Au Pair: An American flag that’s been hung over the US Capitol.  

The Capitol Flag Program

TexasHM sent this gift suggestion last month, and I saved it up for today to help us celebrate Flag Day.

Through the Capitol Flag Program, you can purchase a flag that’s been flown over the capitol. You can request a flag that’s been flown on a specific day — say, your au pair’s birthday or the date of his/her arrival in the USA.  Along with the flag, you get a certificate “suitable for framing” of course, that authenticates the flag and its special date.

You must request and purchase the flag through the office of your CongressPerson. (To find your congressperson, use this Find Your Representative website.) 

As TexasHM says:

“You can order a flag to be flown over the Capitol in honor of something – maybe the day your new AP arrives in the US? Then, they send you the flag and certificate in a commemorative box a couple weeks later.  The flags cost about $13-24 (I don’t see why you would need one bigger than the $13 one)!!!   Don’t you think a new AP would LOVE this?!?  You could also do it for a birthday, a military return home, for someone getting their US citizenship, any special occasion really but I especially think an AP would eat this up.”

My friend FrenchHDinVA also pointed out that you can have state flags flown for about the same cost over the state capitals.

For example, here is the Texas link:

For some states nobody will care, but those of us in the Lone Star State (and I would be willing to bet all our previous APs) might prefer to have a TX flag vs a US one to take home. :)

Just another layer if someone would prefer to get them both…

Has anyone ever done this for their Au Pair?
Au Pairs, would this seem like a meaningful gift to you? 


Ps yes flag day is June 14, and this is posted June 13th, but hey.

Image: American Flag, by Peter Miller, (which I chose b/c it looked also like the Texas State flag.)


NoVA Twin Mom June 13, 2014 at 9:51 am

Great minds think alike – I ordered one a few weeks ago for our new au pair to be flown the day she arrives. The only thing I would add – other than that the process is ridiculously cheap and easy – is that they generally need some lead time, so you usually can’t call the day you want it flown to have it done. I only wish I had thought of this a few years ago!

WarmStateMomma June 13, 2014 at 10:17 am

I love this idea! I will get this for our AP’s birthday. Maybe the flag could be flown the day she passes the driving exam….

WarmStateMomma August 6, 2014 at 1:44 pm

I finally ordered a flag last week for our AP. I’m hoping it arrives before her birthday. She saw the Capitol Building on a recent trip to DC to visit friends, so I think she’d going to love this.

We didn’t have it flown on a specific date but I will do it for future APs when they arrive in the US.

WarmStateMomma September 29, 2014 at 2:22 pm

After several follow up emails, the US flag we ordered in late July finally arrived today! It looks nice and came in a sturdy box with a certificate. We will definitely do this again for future APs.

TexasHM June 13, 2014 at 11:29 am

Great point they do require some lead time – check the sites for specifics and there are a few blackout dates – Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years Day. You can customize a message on the certificate – up to 300 characters. Go to your representatives website to order and get details because some things on the federal site won’t apply like the federal site says don’t put a request in more than 2 weeks before – but thats a note to your rep, you can order as far in advance as you want and your rep’s office will handle the timing and logistics. I asked our current AP and she LOVED this idea. She came from rematch so we won’t get to celebrate her birthday (it was right before she matched with us) so we chatted and decided to do it for her half birthday instead. As suspected she wants the Texas flag. ;) Now I just have to figure out for new AP in November. I was thinking US flag the day she lands in the US but my current AP says Texas flag the day she arrives to our family. I’ll have to ask the other two previous APs what they think..

AlwaysHopeful HM June 13, 2014 at 11:40 am

I think this is such an excellent idea! Wish I had known about it sooner. AP leaves in 3 months and we have no special days before then. I really love the idea of state flag for the day AP arrives in our home. How do you order the state flag? Is the process similar?

TexasHM June 13, 2014 at 12:01 pm

Yes for Texas I just googled “Texas Capital Flag” and it was the first link in the search results. If not, you might try going to your representatives website (House or Senate) and type flag into the search box and see if that pops it up. All the rep sites I saw had an automated process to order and pay (US or Texas State) so its a common request. Maybe for your current AP you don’t worry about the date and just make it a going away present? Just pick a day (maybe the same day of the month as their birthday?) and then make it less about the date and more about the awesome flag and certificate they get to take home. Thats how we landed on half birthday for our AP. No special dates before she leaves and she said it wasn’t about the date anyway. :)

NJ Mama June 13, 2014 at 2:38 pm

Awesome idea!!!

AussiePair June 13, 2014 at 12:13 pm

I think this is an amazing and really thoughtful idea. You could even sign it, or wrote a message on the flag for the au pair… Can non-residents order the flags? Could an au pair order one for a friend or fellow au pair etc.?

HRHM June 13, 2014 at 1:30 pm

We don’t write on our national flag…

You will find that many Americans are very protective and loving of our flag.

AussiePair June 13, 2014 at 1:38 pm

Ok, well don’t rwrite on it then… I knew there was a big thing about destroying them, but didn’t realise even signing it would be considered a no go. Thanks for the information!

Taking a Computer Lunch June 13, 2014 at 1:53 pm

One of our APs bought an American flag and had her friends and LCC sign it. Our LCC was worried that we would be offended, but we’re not particularly patriotic when it comes to the flag, and thought it was a nice memento of her year. We signed it, too.

I recently spotted some American flag and U.S. dollar wallets made out of Tyvek (the stuff they now wrap houses in), so they’re waterproof even though they feel like paper. They were a hit!

WarmStateMomma June 13, 2014 at 2:18 pm

I wouldn’t mind because there’s no ill intent. I’m touched when someone feels affection for my country.

Multitasking Host Mom June 14, 2014 at 10:27 am

I agree HRHM about the respect that should be shown to the US flag. My kids were about to march in a parade with their cub scout troop a few weeks ago. The boy holding the US flag got tired of waiting and put the flag down on the ground. Every mom standing there cringed…of course, then we starting laughing at ourselves since intuitively we know it was silly, but we had all been taught as children that the flag cannot touch the ground or it would have to be disposed of. It is hard to break those childhood habits! (For the record his cub scout leader just told him to pick it up.) Do other countries have all of these rules regarding their flag?

Aupair09 June 14, 2014 at 12:34 pm

This is a really interesting topic and I feel if you are patriotic you should most definitely talk to your Aupair about this and explain the basic “rules” regarding your flag.
I’m from a western European country and let me tell you, we do NOT have these rules regarding our flag. Maybe we have had them in the past, but we are not very patriotic, I don’t know a single person who has a flag besides during soccer world/European cup! And I don’t think anyone cares if you write on the flag or put it on the ground. If these things are important to you, make sure your aupair knows. Maybe print out something or put it in the handbook and make sure she knows this is not a joke but very common and people take these rules serious.
I wish I had known about this during my aupair year (my hostfamily wasn’t too patriotic so I guess that’s why it never came up). I spent 4th of July with my hostfamily and a friend (we were obviously wearing red white and blue with pride). We went to a parade and my friend (who is from a different European country) and I were completely surprised that people were running around giving away flags for free (in both our countries you would have totally had to pay for them!). Now as we don’t have rules regarding our flags, when we set down during the parade we absolutely put the flags down on the ground (the flags were also not made of cotton but some kind of cheap fabric, so we weren’t planning on keeping them because we already both had a beautiful US flag to take back to our home country). I wish someone would have told me about the rules, we didn’t want to be disrespectful (my aupair year was back in 2009 – 2010 but I do feel stupid about the whole incident now).

This makes me wonder about the national anthem as well. How do you hostparents feel about your aupair singing the anthem or not? I remember going to events with my hostfamily where they sang the national anthem and I just wasn’t sure what to do, it made me really uncomfortable! First of all I didn’t know all the lyrics by heart at the beginning of my year and second of all it’s not “my” national anthem. But most people at the events didn’t know that I was not American so it sure looked weird and maybe disrespectful to them seeing me not sing the anthem.
(By the end of my year I did sing the national anthem, after all the US was my home for that time being and I still consider it my “home away from home”!)

Anyway what I’m trying to say is that I think these are topics hostparents should consider talking to their aupairs about!

LondonMum June 14, 2014 at 5:40 pm

The Union Jack has only become popular again in the last few years. About 30 years ago, a political party called the BNP (a very racist party) “stole” the Union Jack as the symbol for their party. Most people did not use the Union Jack flag as they did not want to be associated with those views. For sporting events we play as individual countries (England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales) so use our own national flags. The Union Jack has come into common use again, especially since the Olympics, and it is no longer seen as offensive.

Because of this history of our flag, we tend to carry our patriotism in our hearts rather than by our flag (British people would never fly a flag on their house unless the World Cup was on! and then it would be an English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh flag, not a Union Jack). So I suppose that is why we have no rules about our flag and would not be upset if someone wrote on it, or even burnt it LOL, we would just think they were a nutter!

Having said that, people sing the national anthem with pride, we don’t put our hand on our heart, but we sing/scream it as loud as we can lol. I come from 2 countries and feel equally loyal and affectionate towards both but I could never sing a national anthem from another country, it would be like being unfaithful!

SwissAuPair June 15, 2014 at 7:31 am

Norway has a LOT of rules for the flag! Just google it.
For example a special one:

For the counties in the south: From March until the end of October the flag is hoisted at 8 in the morning, and taken down no later that 9 in the evening (or when the sun is down). In the winter months the flag is hoisted at 9 in the morning and taken down at sunset.

For the three northern counties: From November until the end of February the flag is hoisted at 10 in the morning and taken down as soon as 3 o’clock. The rest of the year, the flag is up at 8 in the morning and down at 9 in the evening.

TexasHM June 13, 2014 at 9:36 pm

HRHM that is a GREAT point that I didn’t even think about! I will definitely chat with our APs about flag etiquette and while it probably should be the same I probably wouldn’t be as offended with a Texas state flag as I would a US flag. If our AP had asked us to sign a US flag I wouldn’t have done it. There are TONS of US flag decorations you can buy that are not an actual flag. That stuff I would sign in a heartbeat. But an actual certified US flag? I couldn’t sign it. I just googled it to see if I was in the minority and it appears that it is widely to be considered the same as burning it. Interesting I can’t find the same zeal about the TX state flag and it doesn’t have the no-writing clause in the flag code like the US one does. The TX flag design is also all over EVERYTHING here so I don’t think it would be viewed the same. Interesting!

Brit AP Abroad June 14, 2014 at 1:34 am

This would be the perfect gift and reminder – what a wonderful
Idea! A very good way to sum up memories of a wonderful year – I hopped your APs appreciate it :)

Multitasking Host Mom June 14, 2014 at 10:20 am

This idea is awesome!! I just sent off our request to our state senator. (It took me about one second of googling to find the form.) I requested the date that our au pair arrives in the US. I plan on sending her an email on that day to let her know that at that moment a flag in her honor is flying over the US capital. How cool is that!
Just for fun, I also looked up if we could do our state flag. Also, an easy thing to do except you have to purchase the state flag on your own, and then mail it to an address at the state capital. They will then fly it on the date you want, and return the flag, with a certificate, with the postage paid by the state. So it appears other states besides TX will do it, just might be slightly different instructions.

CA-TX Mom June 16, 2014 at 12:52 pm

Such a great idea! I just ordered a TX flag for our departing au pair and one for our incoming au pair to give to her in the future at her end of service.

AlwaysHopeful HM June 17, 2014 at 12:38 pm

Did anyone include a personal statement with the certificate? Im trying to think of one…

NoVA Twin Mom July 30, 2014 at 1:03 pm

The flag I ordered for our au pair arrived yesterday – it flew over the US Capitol 9 days ago when she arrived in the US. I gave it to her immediately and she LOVES it. I thought she was going to start crying (in a good way).

The certificate that came with it was a great touch. The “official” envelope – with our Representative’s signature instead of a stamp – was also a plus. I know there was a place on the form for a sentence that would go on the certificate – I had it say something like “in honor of _______ on the day of her arrival in the United States”.

So let this be a reminder to others to request a flag for their au pairs!

HRHM July 30, 2014 at 4:31 pm

I got one as well (flown over the Capitol on her arrival to the US) and am saving it for her birthday in a couple months. Mine came with a nice certificate as well. Hope she likes it.

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