Ever wonder what it’s like to host an au pair during the Holiday Season? Maybe your family celebrates Hannukah, and your au pair has only ever celebrated Christmas before. Or maybe you both celebrate Christmas but in very different ways and even on different days. The holidays can be a great time to introduce new traditions and remember the essence of the au pair program: cultural exchange!
Here are five simple ways to include your au pair during the holidays:
1. Teach them new things. Au pairs love to learn about new traditions and different cultures. Mariana from Mexico, who normally celebrates Christmas, was so appreciative that her Jewish host family waited for her every evening to light their menorah during the eight nights of Hannukah. They even sent her a document explaining the history of the holiday and what the prayers they recited in Hebrew meant.
2. Incorporate new traditions. Don’t assume just because you both celebrate Christmas, your traditions are the same. Sina, an au pair from Germany, told her host family she and her family would usually go to the famous German Christmas markets during the holiday season. Her host family decided to go to some local holiday markets nearby to give Sina the American version of something she loved to do each year in her home country.
3. Invite them to join in on the festivities. Whether you’re baking holiday treats, decorating the house, or throwing an ugly sweater party, invite your au pair to join you! Many of the baked goodies or decorations will be new and unique for your au pair. It’s a wonderful way for them to learn your grandmother’s chocolate chip cookie recipe or rock a sweater with a Christmas llama on it.
4. Include them in the memories. Buy your au pair a stocking and hang it on the mantel together with your family’s. Pick out a special ornament that will always remind them of their first Christmas in the USA. Mariana’s host family even decided to include her in the family photo for their holiday cards this year!
5. Remember the empathy. Many au pairs will feel a little homesick this time of year as they celebrate the holidays without their families. Try to be as understanding and patient as possible. Even taking a few minutes to ask how they’re doing or if they need anything extra during this time is a small gesture that goes a long way in their feeling appreciated and supported during a possibly challenging time.
Hosting an au pair during the holidays can be a magical and memorable experience for your family to incorporate new traditions while spending these special days with a new extended member of your family. Au Pair USA has been matching host families and au pairs for over 30 holiday seasons. Visit our website to get started as a host family.