How Best To Celebrate Our Au Pair’s Extension? (Poll)

by cv harquail on January 14, 2016

Dear AuPairMom —

We’d love the community’s advice about how to recognize and celebrate our Au Pair’s agreement to extend with us.  

downloadI’d like to know what is expected, common, meaningful, etc.

Our family with save about $1500 (not to mention loads of time and hassle) because she’s extending for another year. I’d like to share some of this saving with her — and recognize how excited our family is to have her with us for another 12 months.

Our AP goes ridiculously far above and beyond.  We started drafting her AP of the Year nomination essay a couple of months before it was due.  She is a rockstar AP who works her tail off and is a thoughtful partner in raising my girls.

While we don’t have piles of money laying around to shower on her, we want to “sweeten the deal” during her extension year, given that she has saved us time and money while also ensuring that we will have another year with an incredible AP.

Paying her an extra $20-30 a week feels inadequate somehow.

Telling her there will be a bonus at the end of the extension feels like I’m holding something over her head to coerce completion.

Surprising her with a bonus at the end will have her thinking all year that we aren’t doing anything special.  (She’d never complain, but still.)

Our AP is very interested in the tours offered by Au Pair Adventures, but the airfare puts the total cost over her budget.  I was thinking about offering to cover her airfare to the US destination of her choice to enable her to take a special trip.

I’d love to hear from APs about what they would find most meaningful — the options I’ve come up with are in the poll.

What's the Best Way to Reward Our Extending Au Pair?

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We’d like to announce the gesture on her one year anniversary with our family, perhaps at her favorite restaurant.


oranje_mama January 14, 2016 at 4:00 pm

We’ve bought tickets (2, so she can go with a friend) to a show that she wouldn’t have otherwise bought for herself – and the night off of course . . . it was much appreciated.

spanishaupair January 14, 2016 at 5:21 pm

As an aupair I would love the plane ticket idea specialy if she likes that. That shows your appreciation on her job and extending and also you take the time to think on what she wants to do.
When i extended for a second year with my HF i didnt get any raise but they would show appreciation being more flexible when possible so i could go exploring and finisv my studies, i was in europe so easy and cheap to fly home, for me that wad worth more than any money because they took the time to think what i wanted more.

German Au-Pair January 14, 2016 at 6:43 pm

The plane tickets (or probably more like money specifically to be spent on those tickets) seem the most meaningful to me. If that is within your desired price range, that sounds like an amazing gift for several reasons:
1. it shows that you have A. listened to what she told you, cared about it, remembered it and now act on it. It feels like a gift tailored to her needs and your relationship rather than something you would do for anyone
2. it specifically enables her to have an experience that she would not be able to have without your help
3. the material value of something like this is not lost on an AP and greatly appreciated.

I received a similar gift from my HP and I really really appreciated it and whenever I think about the trips I took that I most definitely would NOt have been able to take without their help, I still feel grateful!

A raise of 20 dollars a week doesn’t sound much when you hear it and is much harder to appreciate properly. It will also most likely just flow over in starbucks and the like. It’s also much more generic than a plane ticket.

Taking a Computer Lunch January 14, 2016 at 10:14 pm

As a HP, I have given extension APs: 1) extra time off with the acknowledgment that it comes from doing above and beyond, 2) gift cards (in the old days before everyone had Skype, it was phone cards), 3) a gift certificate to a favorite restaurant – it doesn’t have to be a generic chain restaurant – any restaurant will let you purchase a gift certificate and $100 can purchase a nice meal with a friend or two. My APs have access to an “AP car,” so when they go above and beyond I tank it up (it used to mean more when gas was more than $2 a gallon).

Pay attention to what she really likes. I had one AP who loved cashews, another Reese’s peanut butter cups, another a bottle of nice wine. Really look at how she dresses to go out. As much as I’d love to buy a maroon sweater for my current AP because I think it would look great with her coloring, I see that she favors grey and tan, so that’s what I buy. If there’s an AP outing to a ski slope, a basketball game, or a meeting that involves money, offer to pay her way (or even better if she has a friend from another cluster, offer to pay for two). Personally, I think my greatest successes came when I paid more attention. You don’t have to spend a fortune (same with your kids! Really!).

anon for this one January 15, 2016 at 7:37 am

I think a lot of it depends on what you can afford. We gave our AP a cash bonus (roughly equal to what we saved on fees) and also a weekly raise. The raise also brought her stipend in line with our state’s (higher than federal) minimum wage which had the added benefit of (maybe) bringing us into compliance (still a gray area since SD won’t commit to an answer re: which minimum wage we’re required to pay)

This was an amazing AP (we wouldn’t extend with a meh one) and we could afford to do it.

WarmStateMomma January 15, 2016 at 12:44 pm

I’m the OP. We have air miles and live near two major airports, so I could get her ticket with miles if she chose somewhere expensive like Hawaii or high-travel dates.

For an upcoming first-year vacation, our AP was planning on an APA trip out west but the airfare at the time she wanted to go was too much of a stretch. She’s going to bring a friend to Orlando instead and they’re staying at my parents’ house. ($40 flight and free lodging = more affordable than APA)

That’s actually what made me start thinking about airfare as a gift instead of a modest raise. The cost would probably be the same but it feels different.

Cynthia @ You Signed Up For WHAT?! January 15, 2016 at 8:07 am

I love the idea of the plane ticket – what a great gift! For our former APs, if they had extended they would have loved a trip they could take in their second year.

AuPair Paris January 15, 2016 at 8:10 am

Depends on the AP too. When I was in Paris, I was happy to take a few trains and all, to see some of France, but one thing I discovered is that I am a bit of a homebody. I preferred to really make myself at home in Paris, and spend my money and time on that, than to take brief trips around the whole of Europe to just see. It’s taught me how to plan my own trips (short time periods – don’t plan too much – just explore. Long time periods – make sure I figure out ways to really get to know a place).

I still voted for plane tickets because I think most APs would prefer that, and also it’s the most thoughtful of the options! But if your AP seems to never go on trips, and never talks about places she wants to see etc, it might be worth reflecting on whether she’d appreciate it. If my HPs bought me plane tickets I’d have been really grateful, and I’d have gone on the trip, and been thankful at the thought. But it wouldn’t have been my ideal – when to be honest, some nice bath stuff, or a trip to a particularly cool exhibit in Paris would have been more interesting to me.

WarmStateMomma January 17, 2016 at 11:52 am

My city is not as amazing as Paris, or I’d stay put as well! I studied abroad in Paris and was always ok with side trips ending because returning to Paris was such a happy thought.

AuPair Paris January 17, 2016 at 3:00 pm

Exactly! I spent two years there and I feel at home there, but I could still spend another two years there, and go somewhere new every day. I guess I should take into account that not all cities are like that!

ChicagoHostMom January 15, 2016 at 3:48 pm

We have given $500 at end of Y1 for our extensions and extra days off whenever we can. Thankfully neither of the girls we extended with were expecting anything, because I feel like this extension “bonus” concept could become a slippery slope. I like the idea of time off if you can swing it. We try to just express appreciation and include our AP in our family as much as possible…not sure that more time with us is a reward though!! ????

Taking a Computer Lunch January 16, 2016 at 12:23 am

It depends on the AP. Our most introverted APs were the most intense family members. AP #7 joined our family in celebrating my grandmother’s 90th birthday in a very rural part of the country (e.g. she was trapped with us for the weekend) and really, really rose to the occasion – as in she thrilled my grandmother by holding The Camel so she could touch her and talk to her, and stayed by her side for over an hour – serious AP points!) I’d never hosted a really introverted AP before, and didn’t really recognize how seriously attached to my family she was, because she never vocalized it. However, when we matched with AP #9, we recognized it immediately, and just asked her to join us on family game nights, etc. Introverts are likely to have 1 or 2 best friends, and when they have serious boyfriends, rematch, etc., the AP feels left adrift. We were there for her.

My bottom line – don’t underestimate your AP’s desire or willingness to be part of the family. A real introvert will have trouble navigating American social cues and will need a real invitation. But when she says yes, expect that she enjoys Candyland with your 5-year-old, cheering your 7-year-old at soccer, or a family dinner. She might never say “thank you,” but the tears at the airport at the end of her year might take you aback, because she never had words to say how deeply attached to you she felt. If your AP is in her room on a Saturday night, and your about to play a silly game with the kids or watch a comedy for family movie night, then knock on her door and ask her to join you. BTDT

WarmStateMomma January 17, 2016 at 11:56 am


Our APs have insisted on attending things with the kids in their off time (ER visits, first dance class, etc.). They are tight with the kids, want to feel like family instead of employees, and are also curious about how everything works here.

IndyMomma January 15, 2016 at 6:15 pm

This is super timely as we just decided to extend with our au pair, who is super awesome. We are going to pay for her extension fees, but at the end of the year if she stays for the whole extension that she’s signing up for. I told her to think of it as a good way to save for her travel month. We are also having an “extension party” with my family and a couple of her friends because my family is very excited. It’ll be lunch (since that’s the typical time they eat their big meal) with either all her favorite American foods or home country foods. I’m going to ask her which she’d rather.

2 kids and a cat January 16, 2016 at 5:28 pm

Even though I know I’d come out ahead, as a professional adult I’d rather the plane ticket and more generous time off than $20 a week.
The rase would probably go o Starbucks and the moves, while the ticket will be memorable.

Brooklyn_HP January 19, 2016 at 12:48 am

OOPS. I had no idea it was customary to do anything special to mark year 2 of a family’s relationship with their au pair!! We did let ours take a long vacation back home to Europe though, and loaned her the $$ to buy a plane ticket (that AP diligently paid back). I guess I’ll know for next time.

WarmStateMomma January 19, 2016 at 11:53 am


I don’t know what’s customary, but this AP is an exceptional housemate and caregiver, and now we will have another year to enjoy her company and her care. Additionally, she has saved us the time of finding her successor this year (finding an AP who speaks Chinese and can drive is looking for a needle in a haystack) and about $1500 in agency fees, driving lessons, etc.

We just want to share some of that saving with her to return some of the kindness she has shown my entire family over the last 10 months. If it’s not customary, all the better to show her our sincerity. If it is customary, I’d like to know what she might expect from talking to other APs.

Taking a Computer Lunch January 19, 2016 at 10:01 pm

There is no customary way to deal with an extension. I would encourage families not to go overboard, as there tends to be a lot of competition among APs and it can set up false expectations. I had one AP tell me of a friend. “Her HF spoils her,” and I thought, whoa!

Just in the way we have encouraged HFs not to take their AP on vacation within the first month (btdt), I would also encourage HFs not to reward their AP within the first few months of their extension (unless it is only a 6-month extension). Your AP is going to experience a lot of changes in her extension period, especially if she has been relying on a close-knit group of AP friends for entertainment. As they depart, she may feel abandoned and like her AP experience is no longer fun. Likewise, your children are getting older and are changing, and the experience she was having at the 8-month mark when she made her decision may have completely changed at the 12/14/16 month mark. I’ve hosted extension APs 3 times and made it work, but it is not the same relationship two months into the extension as it was at the 8-month mark.

Bottom line – reward the AP who continues to work hard and who is able to make the AP program work for her. Don’t buy tickets and then regret it when you have a mopey 20-something who is sad because she extended and her AP experience has radically changed for the worse.

WarmStateMomma January 20, 2016 at 1:27 pm

Thanks, TaCL. Our AP isn’t the typical hang-with-other-APs type. She has one AP buddy who recently arrived that she hangs with but otherwise has a couple of local friends and does a lot independently.

We are taking a family trip to visit extended family (no real fun for the AP) over the summer and I’d like to know that she has an opportunity to have a good time and recharge her batteries after almost 18 months in the States.

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