palebear/via Flickr CCL
photo from palebear via Flickr CCL

Souvenir: a French word for memory. We bring an object home from vacation so that we don’t forget the great time we had while traveling.  From the looks of many vacation hot spots, it is easy to forget that the point is not to consume, but to remember. When gazing at your trinkets collected from various adventures, you want to remember the happy moments you shared with your family, not the gut-wrenching knot in your belly that comes from spending too much money. Below are a series of ideas for you and the kids that will preserve your memories and won’t break the bank.

Lapel Pins and Badges

This happens to be my personal favorite.  My son collects a lapel pin from every place we visit – the space museum, an historic pirate vessel, the nature center, etc.  He puts them on his backpack and proudly shows them off to friends and family who visit.  Badges are a little cheaper, but as Lori Brown, owner of Expedition Mom, points out, they require the extra step of being sewn or ironed onto clothing or backpacks, and they do not transfer as effortlessly as pins. As kids grow, they will need a new backpack or vest; promoting a pin to the new attire is a breeze.

Pressed Pennies

Pressed pennies are a popular souvenir choice. Kids love manhandling the press machine crank, and parents love the 51 cent price tag.  Pressed penny books are available at various souvenir shops for holding your precious pennies, but why invest the money only to have them hidden in a drawer. You can glue magnets to the backs and hang your pressed possessions on the fridge, or drill small holes in the tops for a necklace or bracelet. According to On The Go With Amy, using pre-1982 pennies, which contain more copper, will hold their new shape better.

Rocks and Sand

The ultimate budget souvenir is the one that cost nothing: sand or rocks from the land you visit.  Quarry Orchard describes a souvenir project that is fun and easy for the family – collect a large rock from your vacation destination and use a permanent marker to note the place and year. Also consider collecting sand and displaying it in a small glass jar or vile with a pretty tag describing its origin.

Other Keepsake Collectibles

Other affordable souvenir collectibles include cups or mugs commemorating your stop. One mom collects a Starbucks mug from every vacation destination.  Mini snow globes depicting the city you visit are fun memorabilia for children. Christmas ornaments appear year-round in souvenir shops; they allow you to reminisce with the family each season as you decorate the tree. Cookbooks make fun collectibles, especially in foreign countries or if you visit the restaurant of the author. Finally, one mom I know collects playing cards from each place she visits. Her goal is to collect cards from 52 different locations so that they can be organized into a deck that features a single card for each vacation spot.


See our Souvenir Pinterest Board for more ideas.  If you haven’t already, join the conversation on Facebook; we’d love to hear about your souvenir collection!

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