Today on the CISL Blog, we are answering a question we often receive from our students:

“What should I buy my host family for Christmas?”

Giving gifts can be rewarding and fun, but it can also be stressful to find the “perfect” present! This is even more stressful when buying a gift for your host family because you want to choose a gift that shows your appreciation for being such welcoming hosts. We are here to help! The following are some suggestions for what to buy your host family for Christmas.

What to Buy your American Host Family for Christmas

1. Something practical

Listen carefully when your family is talking. Is there something they mention that they need? Did you hear your host mom say, “I should get a ______” or “We really need a _________”? A practical gift shows that you were paying attention and will be very much appreciated.

Some practical gifts include wine glasses (if your host family drinks wine), napkins and place mats, and candles.

2. Something homemade

This is always a great option. A homemade card expressing your appreciation for them is thoughtful and sincere, and will definitely be something that they keep for years to come!

Cookies and treats are always welcomed as well!

3. Something from home

Of course, it might be difficult for you to find something from your home country while you are studying English in the United States . . . but perhaps you could (with luck) find something that is part of your country’s holiday tradition and share this with your host family. Does your country have any special holiday traditions that your host family might find interesting?

4. A framed photo

This is always a great idea: everyone loves photos! Try to take some cute photos of you and your host family together and present it to them.

5. An ornament

A beautiful ornament is a great gift for anyone at Christmastime. They will hang it on their tree year after year and think of you!


Other tips:

  • Many families choose not to exchange presents. Ask your family beforehand what their policy is: some choose names and buy for one person, some buy for everyone . . . it can differ from home to home.
  • It’s always a cute and fun idea to buy something for the family pet: a little toy for the family dog or cat is a perfect gift!
  • Books are also a great option. Is there a great book about your country, or a book by a famous author from your region? Share this with them!
  • Don’t worry about buying gifts for extended family (your host mother’s parents; your host sister’s boyfriend) unless you are close with these people and would really like to buy them something.
  • Above all, remember that Christmas is not about presents, so don’t feel pressure to get them anything at all unless you really want to. Christmas is all about family and spending time with the people you love, so planning a holiday meal together or spending time together decorating the Christmas tree is the best present you could ever give your host family.

Do you need some ideas about where to shop? Check out these articles:

Make sure to also read our Tips for Being the Perfect Homestay Student article!