You know the drill. Your kids want vacation souvenirs, so you go into one of the shops and are faced with the same old plastic junk that you will know will be broken before you even start for home. If the item does make it home in one piece, it will be relinquished to a shelf where it will gather dust for years until everyone forgets where it came from (but no one wants to get rid of it). What your kids need are some novel ideas for souvenirs. Hereís a short list to get you started.
1. Postcards: Postcards are cheap and take up practically no room in your suitcase. Let your kids collect a few during your trip. At home they can decorate a shoebox to store their collection in and have fun sorting through them. You could even have your child mail one home to himself.
2. Magnets: Okay, they arenít really a novel souvenir, but they take up very little space in your luggage and your kids can have fun searching for the magnet that best represents the trip. Plus, youíll be reminded of your trip each time you open the refrigerator.
3. Local Art: You can often find photographs and prints of local scenes created by area artists. These make great decorations for a childís room. If youíll be visiting an art museum during your trip, have your child pick out a postcard or print of his favorite painting to bring home and frame.
4. Souvenir cups: If youíre going to buy a souvenir, choose a useful one. Cups emblazoned with your destinationís name and images can be used long after the trip is done (and they come in useful during the trip as well). One of my daughterís favorite souvenirs is the sparkly cup she got at Disney World with pictures of the Cinderella castle and princesses.
5. Books: Be on the lookout for picture books written by area residents or simple non-fiction books about the locale. For example, bookshops in Maine usually carry a good selection of books by Robert McCloskey, a local writer whose stories often take place in New England.
6. Stuff the kids made: Many restaurants give kids crayons and paper to use while waiting, leaving you with a souvenir collection of decorated placemats by the tripís end. Jot the childís name and age on the back of the drawing and youíll have a nice memory to paste in a scrapbook.
7. Photos: Photographs are among my most favorite souvenirs. Take plenty, rotating photographers in order to get new perspectives. Take pictures of things your child may want to remember: the inside of your hotel room or rental house, the bed your child slept in, the playground near the hotel, road signs announcing your destination, anything that you think will jog their memory.
8. Edibles: They wonít take up any space in your bag if you eat them right away, but itís more fun to bring them home. Locally made jellies, chocolates, hot sauce, or anything the area is famous for are good candidates. Visit a grocery store to find new items to try. My daughter still remembers the time in Nova Scotia when we bought ice cream with embedded maple leaves.