08 Apr What to Bring Your Host Family: 12+ Gift Ideas
What kind of gifts should you pack to give to a homestay host family?
If you’ve read our post, What Sucks About Home-stays And Why You Should Do Them Anyway, you know we’re big fans of getting an authentic, local experience by staying with a host family during your travels. You might have the opportunity to stay with a local family through a study abroad program, language school, international volunteer program, Work Away/WWOOF experience, or foreign exchange. Independent travelers may arrange their own homestay experience through networks like:
- Homestay International
- Servas cultural exchange network
- Airbnb.com (filter by “Private Room” or “Shared Room” and check descriptions for hosts that interact with guests)
- or your own personal network (friends of friends)
It’s common practice for visitors to bring a token of appreciation for their hosts, whether they are paying for the homestay experience or being hosted free of charge. Picking a gift for someone you’ve never met before can be quite a challenge, so we’ve compiled a small list of host family gift ideas to help you choose the perfect present.
Tips For A Good Gift
- Keep portability in mind. Most likely you’ll be traveling some distance and carrying everything in a suitcase, so light-weight gifts that don’t break easily will make transporting them much easier.
- Lean a little generic. Since you probably don’t know your host family yet, there’s no sense trying to guess their specific tastes. Choose family-friendly options that can be enjoyed by most anyone.
- Share something with a story. Gifts can be a great conversation starter. Opt for something that can help you explain more about yourself or where you’re from. Meaningful gifts are better than expensive ones!
- Go regional. Our best advice is to bring a gift that is unique to your area, something they won’t find anywhere else. Local treats or small craft items from your hometown or region are great choices.
Top Gift Ideas
We’ll use our home state of Oregon in our examples, but you can obviously substitute something similar from your own area.
Hopefully you have a few ideas for host family gifts now. Remember that they don’t have to be fancy or expensive. In fact, if hand-made presents can be even more meaningful if you’re able to create something small like an ornament that represents where you’re from, or some kind of hands-on activity you can do together with the family (like cooking).
If you have other ideas for American gifts to take overseas, we’d love to hear them. Please share your homestay gift advice in the comments below!
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