Goodbye Gifts for Your Au Pair

by cv harquail on September 4, 2008

gift julia-rothman-gift-wrap Every year about a week before our au pair is set to depart, I realize that the scrapbook/ iMovie/ slideshow/ MixCD that I’d been fantasizing about making her will remain just that– a fantasy. I think that, because I dread saying goodbye to our au pairs, I put off until the last minute getting her something special to remember us by. But, over the years I have come up with a few happy gifts, which I hope our au pairs have treasured as much as we all have treasured her year with us.

Probably the very *best* gifts are something made by you and/or your children!!  Keep in mind that the “perfect” goodbye gifts are easy to take home, personal, long lasting, and easy to use/display. The most popular goodbye gifts are Jewelry and Photos, followed by Money and the ever popular “Miscellaneous”. Here some suggestions in each category.

accordian-locket Jewelry

Silver jewelry seems to be relatively inexpensive, easy to find, and pretty. Consider:
– Necklaces or pendants with hearts
– Charm bracelets
– Lockets with the kids’ photos

Many kinds of jewelry can be easily engraved….with a favorite phrase or even “world’s greatest au pair” or “always in our hearts”. The Lillian Vernon catalog seems to have many choices that are pretty, reasonably priced and reasonably well made. And there is always the jewelry counter at TJMaxx…


– Scrapbook or CD with all the photos you’ve taken of the au pair with the kids, including some family photos from special events like Halloween, Thanksgiving and vacation. Also, some shots of favorite places around town
– Copies of kids’ school pictures
– Special photo of the kids holding a “goodbye, we love you” hand-made sign
– Photo collage page (cut & pasted or done on the computer)
– CD with a slideshow, captions, narration, whatever your kids know how to do
– DVD with mini-video clips

Often au pairs have spent almost all of their money during the year, and almost always they wish they had a little bit more to take home with them. We have occasionally given great au pairs a bonus cash gift, between $100 and $300. (Back before the minimum wage was raised, when pocket money was only $140/week, I’d put aside an extra $10 per week, and use that for Christmas and Goodbye bonuses. Some might argue that you get more out of a bonus given during the year…but of course that’s not the reason behind a goodbye gift).


– Silverplate picture frame, engraved, with a photo of her and your kids
– Personalized duffle bag that she can stuff with all her new clothes and take home on the plane
– Thermal coffee mug that has been personalized
– Any of those personalized gifts that your kid’s preschool sells as a fundraiser
– Gift certificate for local restaurant, so they can take friends out for a goodbye dessert
– Webkins, Beannie Babies and other toys just like the ones she gave your kids or that your kids love
– Her own copies of your family’s favorite children’s books, so she can read them to her own kids some day
– Copies of your lullaby CDs
– Mix tapes of all the songs she and your kids listened to while they cleaned up the playroom
– Copies of the au pair handbook, your parenting guidelines, etc.
– A book of favorite family recipes, plus U.S. measuring cups and spoons
– Engraved keychain
– ANY version of High School Musical

handwritten The best gift of all? Memories

For me, the most important gift that I have been able to give an au pair is a little note, card or letter that captures a few special memories from my host mom point of view. In these notes, I’ve thanked our au pair for specific gifts, times, and events that she’s shared with the family. For example, in one au pair’s card I thanked her for her extra loving and comforting of my children the day I had to tell them that their grandfather had died. I’ve also tried to articulate some of the things I’ve learned from her and we’ve learned together.

Reminding an au pair of the specifics of why you treasure her gives her something that can’t be matched by any object.

What kinds of things have you given to your au pairs as goodbye gifts?  Add your suggestions by commenting, below, and then I’ll put them all together in a revised list….

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marguerite April 25, 2009 at 2:08 am

These are all beautiful ideas for a goodbye gift.
One of my longterm families always gives their departing aupair two tickets to a Broadway show scheduled for a date shortly before her departure.
Another nice thought (appropriate for families of very young children ) was that of the family whose baby learned to walk during the aupair’s s
stay. The host parents gave the aupair a pair of the baby’s first sneakers to take home.
And another family asked the coach of their son’s Little League team to give the aupair one of the ” gameballs ‘.? Another aupair took home a large box filled with jars of peanut butter and jelly. She had never had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich until she arrived here.
Thanks again for this great website !

NewHostMomtoBe November 13, 2009 at 4:19 pm

These are great ideas! Thanks so much for sharing them. It helps to have an idea before we need it, so that I can plan accordingly.
This is a great website! I am truly learning so much here for everyone.

SoonToBe May 23, 2010 at 7:34 am

Hello! My problem is actually about welcome gifts. I’m going to an au pair for the first time and I found a perfect family with two adorable kids. I just don’t know what should I bring as gifts when I arrive? For the children, for parents? Do au pairs bring gifts? Would be great if you could help!

Ex Au Pair May 23, 2010 at 9:15 am

I brought gifts for both parents and the kids. For the parents I got a book about my country, I think that is something a lot of au pairs get. I love to read and I knew the kids liked that too, so for them I got my favorite children’s books and some typical candy from my country. They all loved the gifts.
Part of the au pair experience is to share you culture, so find something that is typical for your country. Books, clothes, food/candy (check with the US customs to make sure you’re allowed to bring it into the country), games etc.
Enjoy your year=)

Busy Mom May 23, 2010 at 11:00 pm

SoonToBe, You should definitely bring gifts, but they do not need to be large or expensive. A small gift – particularly for kids – helps to break the ice. I’d caution again clothes because the kids will be very disappointed if they don’t fit. I agree that he best gift would be something that’s typical of your country or unique to your country. Our first au pair brought me a garden dwarf that I refuse to put in my garden because I like it to much that I want to preserve it. Both au pairs have brought candy for the kids, but don’t go overboard! My sister-in-law’s au pair brought a German board game. Didn’t matter that it was in German – they played it together.

Soon to Leave au pair August 28, 2010 at 8:54 am

I have been with the family for the summer holidays. They are wonderful, we got along really well and there are 2 adorable kids. But I have no clue what should I get them for the ”goodbye+thankyou” gift. No idea. It was my first time au pairing. And I’m leaving really soon! I know the best gift are memories (as in self-made scrapbook etc) so I send this to them by post from home. But I want to give something before I leave,too. Moms, what have your au pairs given you as leaving gifts? What would you appreciate? (PS we’re in Europe).

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