One of the blessings of being a missionary kid (MK) or third culture kid (TCK) is getting to travel a lot. And something that usually goes along with traveling is souvenirs. When I moved back to the US from Europe, I didn’t realize how many small souvenirs I’d picked up along the way. It’s been so much fun using them to decorate so when I look around my room, I’m reminded of all the amazing place I’ve been able to visit.
I imagine most MKs are in a similar boat. If you have lots of souvenirs and need some ideas of what to do with them, read on!
It’s tempting to buy expensive, fancy souvenirs when you’re traveling, but sometimes the best ones are really cheap and you might not even realize they’re souvenirs. Take for example the picture above. Illy is a popular coffee brand in Italy and while we lived there, my dad drank it regularly. Instead of letting him throw away the cans, I’d use them for various things. I kept this one and brought it home to remind me of Italy. It also keeps my pens nice and organized. The other tin used to hold cookies. My dad brought it back with him on a business trip and I decided it was too pretty to throw away once we finished the cookies. It’s great storage and adds some color to my white desk.
Tip #1: Next time someone brings you food from another country or you buy something at the store, save its container. They are great for storage and are a fun way to remember where you have been and/or lived!
Bottles are another great way of decorating with foreign items. Often, depending on where you are visiting, instead of having the soda name in English, soda bottles will have the foreign name. I got the Sprite bottle and Coke bottle in Ethiopia (pictured above) on a missions trip. It’s fun to look up and see the Amharic and remember my trip. Another way to decorate with bottles is to make a heart map bouquet like the one above. Check out the November/December issue to learn how to make one.
Tip #2: Save bottles when you travel and use them for various crafts or just to display!
Tip #3: Whenever you visit a new place, buy a postcard for yourself. Display your postcards on a plate, in a vase, or in frames to remember all of your wonderful trips!
Tip #4: Instead of buying a souvenir, create your own art to remember your favorite places. See the September/October issue to learn how to make your own heart paintings.
“Recycling” souvenirs and finding cheap decorations is easy as long as you keep your eyes open. So on the next trip you take, skip the fancy souvenirs you’ll never really use and look for more common items like bottles, containers, small pieces of pottery, etc.. Sometimes the simpler things make the best decorations.
PS Natalie Lloyd is giving away a copy of her wonderful book, Paperdoll, on her blog. To read a part of her book, check out the October 2010 issue. She’s choosing a winner this Wednesday so hurry and enter!