Hi, Abbie and Maddie here. We’re all about keeping it real. Some people are super-artsy and create Pinterest- and Instagram-worthy au pair welcome baskets. (If you’re one of those people, more power to you!)
For the rest of us, it’s possible to create a nice, simple welcome package on a budget. The goal is to make your au pair feel welcome, not win a ribbon at the county fair for prettiest display. And your kids might have fun thinking of ways to welcome your new au pair.
Our au pair welcome basket typically includes:
- Heartfelt family note or gift from the kids.
- Food and snacks.
- Office supplies.
- Region-specific gift (from where you live).
When you’re done, lay them out in the au pair’s room as part of your pre-arrival checklist.
Don’t Send the Au Pair Welcome Baskets Ahead of Time
While you really want your au pair to feel loved and appreciated, it is not recommended to send anything before they arrive. Any care package you send ahead to your au pair’s training school is one more thing they have to fit in their luggage for their plane ride to you. Some agencies also don’t allow gifts at the training center because the au pairs who don’t receive a package can feel left out.
Definitely send a message to tell your au pair that you’re tracking their progress and how much you’re looking forward to their arrival. Don’t necessarily expect a timely reply. They may not have a foreign data plan and must rely on hotel wifi late at night.
Think About the Au Pair
When your au pair arrives, they will have their entire life packed into two suitcases and a small bag. Liquids, gels, and aerosols are minimal or non-existent.
Long story short, the best welcome gifts for your au pair are most likely small creature comforts.
Set yourself a small budget and stick to it. It’s amazing how many small things + a few personal touches you can get without spending a lot of money. Don’t go overboard, as too much is overwhelming. But your au pair will probably have a few small things for your family so it’s nice to have something in exchange.
Heartfelt family note or gift from the kids: Even a short, hand-written note on a piece of notebook paper is a nice personal welcome. The kids can draw a picture (age-dependent), or you can “write” a note from the baby saying, “I love you.” Your kids might also enjoy picking out a small gift for your au pair while you are out shopping.
Toiletries: Your au pair will probably want to make their own choices for shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, and lotion. However, you can provide travel-size options or larger bottles from the family supply. Going to the store will be something you’ll do in the first week or so, and then your au pair can pick their own items.
Food and snacks: You might have an idea of what kind of snacks your new au pair likes from emails and chats. Or you can get your au pair some snacks from your region. For example, Seattle has a chocolate company called Theo Chocolate, and Pennsylvania has Tastykakes. Include a water bottle or mug for coffee or tea in case they’re a bit nervous to poke around the kitchen for the first few days.
Office supplies: Your au pair might appreciate a few fun sticky notes, pens, and pencils. A journal or notebook is also a nice touch so they can record their time as an au pair. Stickers to decorate laptops are also popular.
Region-specific gift: A special gift from your area is always a nice surprise. There are so many options for regional gifts. This is a chance to be creative! If you’ve already gone over budget, save some of these items later for a holiday gift or birthday gift.
- Search on Etsy for items with your hometown name. (If you have trouble finding gifts for au pairs, also search for gifts for nannies and foreign exchange students.) I really like cloth tote bags, but necklace charms, magnets, mugs, and keychains are a perennial favorite.
- A map or a coffee table book about your area to help your au pair explore their new home.
- Consider a sweatshirt or other item from your nearest college or professional sports team (though this may make it hard to stick within your budget).
- Gift card to a local restaurant, shop, or event so they can get out of the house for a local experience. We live outside of Seattle so a Starbucks gift card is a common choice.
Our experiences with AU Pair Welcome Baskets
Abbie says: When my first au pair arrived, I had twin babies and a preschooler. She got a bunch of things laid out on her bed, but it wasn’t very pretty. I’ve gotten myself a little more organized as time goes on. My most recent au pair had a prettier display, but the same basic things.
Maddie says: I love making au pair welcome baskets! And now that my kids are a little older they like to help, too. I typically start with my au pair’s favorite color and use that as a theme throughout. We make a special trip to the store so every au pair gets a unique gift depending on the season and suggestions from my kids. Some years I have arranged it in a big gift basket. Other years I used a gift bag or reusable shopping bag. We have fun putting it together as a family.
- Au Pair Welcome Basket Pinterest board from My Au Pair and Me.
- Enough with the gift baskets! from aupairmom.com (2011) As the gift basket trend evolved, she now retracts her previous advice of sending the basket, but the article and comments still have some fun ideas.
- Au Pair Advice: Send a welcome package to your Au Pair’s orientation from aupairmom.com (2008) Don’t really send a package, but it still has some cute ideas of what to add to your package.
- Family Welcome Gift Baskets by CulturalCare is a short but sweet list of ideas.
- Room set-up and welcome basket forum discussion on DC Urban Moms and Dads. People have some other fun and practical ideas besides what’s on our list like magazines, bathrobe, shower caddy, umbrella, and a Starbucks card.
- Welcome present for your new au pair from AuPair.com pretty generic but also includes some ideas for birthdays or holidays.
- Unique Ways to Welcome Your Au Pair from InterExchange.org also encompasses airport pickup signs, room setup, and welcome items.