Families across the world celebrate several holidays in a given year, each one made up of special traditions, meals, events or gatherings. Here are a few tips to easily navigate the holidays with your student.

Preparing your student

A week or two before the holiday festivity, discuss your family’s traditions with your student and share what the holiday means to your family. Explain some of your favourite foods, activities or any travel plans you might have, making sure to include who will be attending and if there are any extended family members or friends your student should meet. Your student will likely not know what’s expected of them during this time, so let them know how they can help or be involved and provide some guidance on what they can do if they need a break from the festivities.

Gift giving

Explain how you give gifts in your home; whether you draw names or give gifts to everyone, and how your student should participate. Discuss a realistic budget with your student so they know what is expected of them when giving gifts. Also ask about how your student gives gifts in their home country. This will give you an idea of your student’s experience with giving and receiving.


Some students may want to mail gifts to family and friends in their home country however, not all students will send holiday gifts due to the high cost of international shipping. Ask your student what their plans are. You can help them by researching shipping times and costs ahead of time. Set a “mail by” date in advance to ensure the packages arrive to their destination in plenty of time.

Don’t know what to get your student?

Here are a few tips to making sure you get it right:


  • Ask them to make a “wish list” for gifts.
  • Consider your student's interests, likes and goals, and explore from there! A few personal, thoughtful gifts can make a big impact.
  • Keepsakes, holiday ornaments or Irish memorabilia will commemorate your time together. This provides them a memento to take back home to represent their time in the Ireland.
  • Keep sizing in mind. Consider how they would get that gift back home to their country at the end of the exchange. Shipping and luggage expenses can add up quickly.
  • Consider experience gifts like a trip to an amusement park, bowling as a family or a day outing like hiking with a picnic. These memories will last forever!
EF Tip

Your student’s family traditions may look very different from yours. One fun way to make your student feel at home during the holiday season is by incorporating their traditions into your normal holiday festivities.

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