So, you’re going away! You’re gathering up your belongings and packing what you can into 1 or 2 suitcases (definitely not more!). You also get the wonderful opportunity to stay with a local host family. Don’t forget to stuff something into your suitcase for them!
You’ll get to share three meals a day with them and through their lifestyle learn the language & culture. The Host Family is one of the BEST ways to completely immerse yourself in your host culture. This will be your greatest and most intimate contact with the culture and people of your host country.
Now, what to bring them? Not only is it a nice gesture to someone welcoming you into their home, but it’s a nice ice breaker and also gives them a glimpse into YOUR culture 🙂
We have some ideas of gifts for your host family, but we also want to share with you what some of our students have taken to their host family.
- A small, inexpensive regional gift from the states (such as a coffee mug, postcard book, small bottle of maple syrup or hot sauce, etc.). Food items that the family can share always work well.
- Something for the house (maybe a coffee table book from your state, a kitchen towel, etc.)
- Family-style board games (that don’t require a language), local treats like preserves, candies, or maple syrup, a coffee-table photo book of their hometown, or a dry baking mix like blueberry muffins, biscuits, or scones
- “I bought my Mama Tica an angel chime... She hung it by the door, and still tells me she thinks of me every time she hears it! I got a fashion watch for my sister and toys for mi hermano! Food is always good too! My second time I brought my moms Xmas cookies and a pretty picture frame. Ok I want to go back now!”- Emily Mullen (Wisconsin) – Costa Rica
- “I brought my Mama Tica a waffle iron… waffles are my favorite breakfast…. once I showed her how to make it she made them almost everyday… her daughter is like in love with waffles now and if was a nice start to the time being there… I also got the daughter her own gift and the family some picture frames…” – Lauryn Green (Southern California) – Costa Rica
- “I bought my mama Oaxaquena a personalized spatula from my University because she loved to cook and also I bought a Christmas ornament!“- Brandi Moore (Kentucky) – Mexico
- “I work at a boutique so I knew my family was religious and I brought them a handmade pearl cross for their wall”- Kasey Hirl (Texas) – Costa Rica
- “I spent 3 weeks with 2 families in Japan in high school. I got each individual something small (like a Superman t-shirt for the teenage boy, jump rope for the 8 year-old girl), etc. As a family gift, I created a small scrapbook. It featured photos of my family, school, friends, and hobbies. The photos were then captioned (as best as possible) in both English and Japanese – so that they could show off where I was from!” – Karolyn Wotjowicz (Indiana) (Colleague & Study Abroad Alumni)
- “Spent a week in Costa Rica and I brought my family some maple syrup from home and they LOVED it.”- Ben Marx (New Hampshire) – Costa Rica
- “I got a key chain of my state cause every student gets a home key in Argentina.” – Laury Valdes (Alabama) – Argentina
- “I brought a candle to my host family. Somehow we lost something in translation and my host family thought it was something to eat. They liked it once they realized what it was though!”– Parker Tibbets (Texas) – Mexico
- “I took a little photo album with pictures that i felt best resembled me. Also, being a Texan, it wasn’t hard to find souvenirs to take over to represent the Lone Star State; which they loved!!!”- Jory Garcia (Texas) – Spain
- “I brought food that was only made in my state. and candy they loved it!”- Mat Walter (Minnesota) – Costa Rica
- “When I went to Costa Rica I brought a few things like a coffee table book of my hometown and a t-shirt for the kid but my host mother absolutely loved the cook book that I brought!!”- Zoe Rianna – Costa Rica
The Host Family gift shouldn’t be anything too expensive or fancy, but it is a nice offering & an opportunity to share with them about your culture as well!
Please feel free to email us (firstname.lastname@example.org) or post on the Facebook wall about an other suggestions you have and would like to see added to our list! Even things that didn’t work out – did you have a bust of a Host Family gift, and wish you would have had something as awesome as this helpful blog post to guide you on choosing an item? We’d love to hear your funny tales of the Host Family Gift that DIDN’T Quite make the cut. Or! Do you have a funny story like Parker? How did the communication go when you first presented them with your gift? Did they want to eat your candle? Let us know!