Picture the scene. You have just returned from one of the best vacations that you have ever had, and whilst unpacking, you come across the items that you picked up that you thought were cute or sweet or pretty, but that would, most of all, remind you of where you had been happy. All too often, these types of souvenirs simply end up taking up valuable space in closets, but there are ways that you can make use of your vacation mementos to become more than just clutter.

Photos and paper paraphernalia

Perhaps the most common type of vacation memento is the photograph. Digital cameras have made it so easy to take hundreds of snaps while on vacation, usually of varying quality, but just as easily they remain on your SD card or on a server, never to see the light of day again. What a waste! Chances are you have taken some stunning photographs of your vacation destination, and you should want to look at them again to remind yourself of just how wonderful a time you had there. The answer is to review the photographs you took and print out those that are special. Once you have the best photographs from your trip, you should paste them into a special vacation album. Pasting them into something like a scrapbook, along with any ticket stubs, restaurant checks, and local maps, turns a bundle of paper into something rather special: a keepsake. This is something that you and your family can return to time and again.

Make photos work for you

You could also pass on some of these photographs to friends and family, or you could reach a wider audience for your best shots and put them on an online stock photo library site such as Dreamstime and perhaps even make a little money from them with sales. Another way that you can make your photos work for you is if you have a creative job, such as a graphic designer or even a self-publishing writer. You can use your own photos, or even elements within them, to perhaps create logos or backgrounds and even book covers.

Artwork and ornaments

If you would rather have your vacation mementos on permanent display somewhere in your home, the best way to do this is to turn them into artworks. Such artworks can be put on walls, or they can be used as standalone ornaments on side tables and shelving. For example, you could create a memory jar if you had a beach vacation. Simply take a handful or two of sand from the beaches you visited and keep it safe – pick up some shells too – and pop these into an attractive glass jar that has a lid to keep it all contained. Then print out one of the photographs you took that sums up the vacation perfectly, handwrite or print out a sign of the location, and add these to the jar. This makes a very different and very personal ornament for the home.

If your vacation took you to urban destinations, it may be that you picked up several local maps. Instead of throwing these away, put them in a frame, or create a box canvas and hang them as a picture, or use them as graphics for some household objects, such as decorating a screen, or even get crafty and make coasters or trays.

Make deliberate choices when buying

It can be very tempting to spend your money on very cheesy vacation souvenirs, but if you are one of those rare people who do not make impulse buys, then view vacation souvenirs as a chance to bring something a little different to your home’s interior design. You could, for instance, keep an eye out for wooden or ceramic bowls that have a distinctive pattern, redolent of your vacation destination, but that would work great as kitchen containers for your fresh eggs or fruit. If textiles are your thing, then buy fabrics that you can upholster your chairs with, or turn into cushions or a table runner. If you are a reader, then visit local bookshops and pick up books that are about that country, its customs, and its people. These make great coffee table books and will be a constant reminder and interesting read about your wonderful trip.

It is important to remember that you bought those vacation mementos for a reason – because you wanted them to remind you of the great time you had. When you get home, don’t throw them away or stuff them in a box, but celebrate them as souvenirs of the perfect vacation.

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