Q: In a couple of weeks we're setting off to England on our first home exchange - we're very excited! I wonder if it is standard practice to bring a gift to give to the family we are swapping with? This hadn't occurred to us and then someone mentioned it, so now we're wondering what other members do. Thanks, Sue (British Columbia, Canada)
A: It can be tricky to know whether to leave a gift for your home exchange partners - with home swaps being agreements arranged between two sets of members, every swap is different. We've seen members that have said that they do not want/expect a gift, all they want is that the member treats their home with care and that the free holiday accommodation they are also enjoying is a gift in itself. However, I always think it is a nice touch to leave a small gift and/or a thank you note at the end of the swap to show your appreciation for the use of the member's home. If you do decide to leave a gift, it does not need to be anything fancy or expensive, just a token of your appreciation.
Another option that many members choose is to leave a small gift to welcome you into their home. The nice thing about this is that you could leave something specific to your area - perhaps a local delicacy or bottle of wine. In your case, living in British Columbia, how about leaving some local smoked salmon (and, of course, BC wine!)?
|Note: when discussing your swap it's good to check any dietary/allergy requirements of your guests ...you wouldn't want to leave wine, salmon, and peanut brittle for a non-drinking vegetarian with a peanut allergy!|
If the members you are exchanging with have children, you might decide to leave them small gifts appropriate for their ages or bring the gifts with you to leave for the children when they return home.
If you arrive to find that your exchange partners have left you welcome gifts (and you hadn't done so), you could avoid any awkward feelings by simply leaving them a small thank you gift at the end of the exchange.
Leaving basic provisions: it's also good to leave some basic food supplies for each other on arrival (milk, bread, cheese, fruit, juice, possibly even a meal ready to re-heat)? Discuss this with your exchange partners before heading off on your trip as, if you both agree to do this, you will appreciate not having to think of food shopping immediately you arrive after a long flight across the pond!
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