Hospitality is essential to the HomeExchange experience. After all, how can you stay in someone else’s home if you don’t feel welcome? And as a host, it's only natural to want your guests to have a great time at your place. From a kitchen stocked with breakfast food to a box of chocolates to locally-brewed beer to toys for their guest’s children, these HomeExchangers shared with us how they welcome guests into their home, and how they thank their hosts for hosting them.

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“We love to host families from all over the world and over the years, we have refined our welcome gifts to include locally brewed beers, wine, and food. We place it all in a welcome basket so they know it’s all theirs to enjoy, alongside the welcome folder and an organiser which contains tourist leaflets, membership cards, take away menus, etc.

We also leave an easy first dinner in the fridge, (like a pizza) so they don’t have to immediately go shopping. Oh, and frozen croissants are always welcome for a first breakfast. I usually agree ahead of time to see if they'd like me to leave some milk, eggs and bread. Communication is key!

Our welcome folder is divided into sections (with pictures) so it’s easy to find information quickly. Sections include appliances, bins, pet, garden, garage, where to shop, where to eat, and days out. I send out a digital copy of the welcome folder the week before the swap so they can translate it into their own language easily. I also leave a physical copy of the folder and add a handwritten welcome on the first page with a “Welcome to Scotland” message translated into their own language.

With regards to bringing a thank you gift. We always bring a thank you card and leave a gift when we're on a reciprocal exchange. Examples include a tea towel featuring funny Scottish words with translations, a box of Scottish shortbreads, or my personal favourite, a brand new guest book with the first page filled up by us.” - Susan


“I always prepare a basket of local products including a beer named in honour of our neighbourhood 🍻 and a personalized welcome note for when our HomeExchangers arrive. ☺️” - Theresa

Travel with HomeExchange

“Tips for new exchangers:

  1. Always send your host a message when you first arrive in their home to let them know you got in OK. Be sure to thank them for any treats they left you and say something complimentary about their home. This shows appreciation for all the effort they made to get their home ready for you and creates positive feelings for all.
  2. If staying in someone’s primary home, leave a hand-written thank you note for your host to find when they return home, at the very least. A small gift is also customary. Even the simplest note on a random piece of paper will make your host feel good. By contrast, coming home to no note, no gift and a pile of laundry will likely leave your host with a sad feeling (even if you sent a text message). If you have an early departure, write the note the night before. The thank you note can be as short or long as you like, and you can send any details about logistical matters separately by text or email, if that’s easier.” - Mary

“We found beautiful, small, glass magnets that look like something from the sea that we leave with a thank you note and often a signed copy of The Mexico Diaries, which my husband Dan Gair wrote” - Holly

“We’ve just hosted our first 5 families this summer, (and looking forward to being hosted this fall). For our guests, we left homemade treats such as fresh apple crisp made with locally grown apples, or a batch of cookies. We left frozen treats in the freezer, as well as local beer in the fridge along with eggs/breads/jams/home-tapped maple syrup (Nova Scotia). We also left personal welcome notes on locally created note cards. From our hosts, we came back to beautiful letters and gifts of beautiful kitchen towels, magnets, coasters, and homemade wine!” - Jocelyn


“We had several GP stays in the US this year and took a stock of light gifts from posh London shops that have airport concessions. It’s especially nice if you can leave them in a Harrods bag. People seemed to appreciate them.” - Fiona

“I always leave breakfast foods in case they get in late. Also wine, snacks and other things to be consumed during their stay. I have a really cute little standing blackboard and chalk, as a lot of HE guests are teachers or retired teachers and we write their names and welcome them. They always use the eraser and thank us. We are of course both retired teachers. ❤” - Jayne

“I always leave something local for my guests (maple syrup or something sweet and a welcome note) and always leave a thank you gift with a note or card when I leave their house.” - Stephanie


“We leave food for their first meal, as they often arrive at night. This way they can enjoy a nice breakfast before having to go to the grocery store. We provide milk, fruit juice, dry cereal, bread, jam, fresh fruit, and often sliced turkey, mayonnaise, mustard, and lettuce so they can make a sandwich before going to bed.” - Ellen

Plan your next vacation

“I like leaving a thank you for our hosts. If they have kids, we try to find a small gift for their kids as well, along with a thank you note” - Margaret

“I usually leave treats for kids (sidewalk chalk, bubbles, and chocolates), along with local craft non-alcoholic drinks like root beer, as well as a local craft beer for adults. It depends on length of stay and whether it’s a traditional or GP exchange.” - Lisa

“We usually gift some very durable sweets with lovely packaging depicting a local landmark. They're vegan and halal. The sweets can be eaten, the case can be kept for other things. Our aim is to gift small things (easy to carry) that can be used up (no need to keep them around), and to stay away from alcohol (you never know about people's beliefs or personal stories). The idea for me is to have something that shows your appreciation, it doesn't need to be expensive.” - Martha


“We bring local artisanal chocolates from a small chocolatier in our home town and leave them for the hosts with a thank you card.” - Marion

“We leave local jars of jelly. ....and have given and received even nicer gifts if we connect with the homeowners well.” - Laura

“We offer a good local wine and calissons (a treat for the sweet tooths of our French city, Aix-en-Provence) when we have guests. When we are hosted, we look a bit around us: Does the host have a great coffee maker? We buy some premium grains in a good coffee shop in the area. Our last guest noticed in our library that we are fond of Italy: They bought us a great book about it.” - Elsa

“We like to host in-person whenever possible. Last time, we offered the first dinner to our guests with a selection of local specialties and homemade bread. It was a beautiful evening. The fun of HomeExchange is in the meeting! Because there are so many beautiful humans in this world (We can forget that if we watch too much news!). 🤗” - Marie-Joëlle


Find your next exchange

Remember: A gift for your guest or your host doesn’t have to be expensive. It’s a token of gratitude, trust, and friendship. Something local from your hometown is something your guests and hosts will be sure to love because it’s new and it’s from you.