Ahhh, the post-vacation high. You’re still feeling relaxed, even as you sort the laundry and pack away the suitcases in the attic. You find yourself counting backwards and saying things like, “Can you believe that 36 hours ago we were watching that gorgeous sunset on the beach?” You upload your photos onto Facebook or Flickr, and then…you hit a snag. A puzzle. What to do with all the stuff you brought back? Souvenirs. Mementos. (Or junk, as our father called it.)
Most of us return from vacation with things like maps, hotel brochures, matchbooks (do they still have those, even though every place on the planet seems to be non-smoking?), ticket stubs, Metrocards, hotel room keys (oops), golf score cards (and those little pencils), cocktail napkins, postcards, shopping bags, seashells, pretty rocks, dried flowers… Those are just the random mementos. There’s also the purposeful souvenirs, things we purchase as mementos, such as paintings, holiday ornaments, wall plaques, figurines, t-shirts, etc.
What do you do with all this stuff when you get back home? It sounds old-fashioned, but we’re still a big fan of scrapbooks. Not the new-fangled scrapbooks that take-up half of your local Michaels store with supplies and fancy papers — those are a fine hobby, but they don’t really serve the same purpose of old-school scrapbooks. No, we’re talking about a scrapbook where you glue in things like ticket stubs, brochures and postcards. If you’re not into creating scrapbook pages, you can find all kinds of great, decorative boxes in which to store your keepsakes.
One great idea we learned from Martha: use maps from your vacation locale to create the actual scrapbook pages. Or cut up the map and use it as a background for a picture frame or shadow box, into which you can place mementos of all shapes and sizes.
If you like to bring home seashells, pinecones or stones and rocks, try to bring home a lot of whichever item you choose. Don’t just take a shell or two. Instead, one or two dozen shells can be placed artfully in a glass vase or glued around a mirror or frame.
Some advice for your next vacation: when choosing souvenirs to purchase, select something you’ll be happy to display in your home year-round. Instead of a kitschy wall plaque, choose an artistic vase carved from local wood, or a piece of decorative pottery by a local artist. And, of course, you can’t beat holiday ornaments as vacation mementos. Displaying them every year during the holiday season, when friends and family gather, is great way to share memories of special times from years past.