15 Meaningful Gifts For Your Host Family

Whether you’e staying with a Workaway host, doing a study abroad, or crashing at a friend-of-a-friend’s, it’s always polite to present your host with a gift.

The thing is, it’s hard to shop for people, especially someone you don’t know! Luckily for you I’ve created a list of 15 things that would make great gifts for your host. 

All of these gift ideas are small, so you can pack them easily; and they’re inexpensive so you don’t have to worry about breaking the bank. 

They can be given as you arrive or as you depart, though I find it most natural to give them when I leave as a thank you.

1. A small photograph of your home country, state, or city.  It can be a photograph you’ve taken yourself, or one you’ve purchased. Most host families are proud of the international connections they’ve made over the world, and displaying a token of these relationships in their home is a source of pride and joy. I would suggest keeping the picture rather small, because asking them to display a large photo of your homeland is a little… egocentric haha. Frame the photo for them in something nice. If you like vintage, I think this small frame really cute. I love this more modern one too. 

2. A magnet from your homeland. Once again, another way for them to display in their home the international relationships they’ve fostered. I would suggest something artsy rather than kitschy. I’m a firm believer that magnets can be classy! You can check out local markets in your town. If you’re from the US, this company makes cute magnets for each state

3. A copy of your favorite book. If you’re a big reader, this is sure to be a very genuine gift. Finding a copy of the book in their native language will be even more meaningful! 

4. You can never go wrong with a bottle of wine! If you’re from an area that produces wine, you can often fine small bottles that are easier to travel with (though must be put in a checked bag!) Otherwise you can buy a bottle of wine in your host family’s city. This makes a good hello gift!

5. Burn them a CD of your favorite songs! It’s always fun to be introduced to new music. If you can play an instrument or sing, it would be cool to give them a copy of your own work. 

6. Something that reminds you of them. Obviously this is a gift you’d buy after you get to know them. For all you procrastinators out there ;) Take note of your host’s tastes. Do they collect tea spoons? Do they have an affinity for owls? Do they love to decorate with the color purple? Buy something locally that reminds you of them. For example, one of our Workaway hosts had a bunch of ducks and loved them a lot. She even wrote an article about caring for ducks that was published in a magazine! When I was shopping in town, I saw a cute toothpick container of a duck. I purchased it as a present! And for her husband, we found a bottle of beer from a local, high-end brewery that he loves.

7. A polaroid and a heartfelt letter. If you’re bringing a polaroid camera with you, get a couple pictures with your host! Present them with one along with a heartfelt thank you letter. Sweet and simple! I use this off-brand camera. It’s much cheaper and works great!

8. Candies. Buy some of your favorite candies at home to present to them! Stay away from chocolate, as it can easily melt or break. To make this present a bit classier, try and find a gourmet candy. To me, classy candy means something with attractive packaging :) I like these old-fashioned candies.  

9. Recipe cards. If you have some delicious recipes up your sleeve, write them down on these cute recipe cards! Sharing your culinary delights just might be the best thing you can do! It would be especially meaningful if you took the time to translate everything into their native language and use the measuring system they are familiar with. For translating purposes, use wordreference.com for word by word translation rather than google translate!! You can tie the cards up with something like a whisk or a wooden spoon to make the gift look more… full?! 

10. Homemade hand warmers. A fun handmade gift idea is to sew hand warmers with fabric and rice that they can pop in the microwave for cold days. Obviously this idea works best for those who live with a cold climate. If microwaves are not common in their country, they can heat up their warmers in the oven if they place them in a glass dish. I think this fabric is really rad.

11. Art. If you’re artsy, paint or draw something meaningful! It could be the exterior of their home, their pet, a specific room in their house, all of you together, their portrait, their city, your own city, whatever. Or something abstract! Be creative. Be you!

12. Fresh flowers. Buy these locally, obviously. Who doesn’t love fresh flowers?! 

13. A plant or some seeds. If they like to garden, buy them something fun to plant! You could even present them with a houseplant. Cacti are really pretty if you’re looking for something long lasting.

14. Food. Bring something from your country or hometown. Is there a local jam maker in your area? An herb or spice specific to your region? Anything non-perishable and that can be easily transported is probably a great gift idea.

15. Make a video of their home. Before we arrived, one of our hosts in France sent us a video of a day in the life of Workawayer at their home. It was so cute and it was made by previous Workawayers. They used their phones to record and edit it, and they sent it using dropbox. It was very simple and adorable! 

Let me know in the comments below if you have any other ideas, or if you decided to try one of these ones! Happy gifting :)