Souvenirs are a great way to remember our travels. Items that are typical of the region or specific to things you did there are perfect for this. I like to get souvenirs that are functional or cool to display. In a previous post, I talked about unusual souvenir ideas – things you might not consider a “souvenir” or are outside the norm.
Now I want to delve into more standard souvenirs. Many people like to collect similar souvenirs everywhere they go. Personally, I have a pin collection. Lapel pins are relatively easy to find around the world and don’t take up much room. Plus, I can display them on my jacket or bag as I go. You can always find things like keychains and magnets, so they make great collectibles. Even if your souvenir collection is pretty typical, the way you display it doesn’t have to be! This post will talk about five very common souvenir items and unique ways to exhibit or use them.
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Magnets are ubiquitous souvenirs. What’s not ubiquitous is magnetic surfaces on your house to display them. Basically, metal appliances. Most commonly, this is the refrigerator. However, not as many fridge fronts are magnetic these days. To create an unusual magnet display, you need an unusual magnetic surface.
For a different take on the same concept, why not a magnetic chair rail? It can add visual interest to a room in a way that doesn’t overwhelm and gives you tons of real estate for any size magnet collection. Use magnetic tape or magnetic metal strips (like for kitchen knives) at about window-sill height all around a room.
Magnetic Contact Paper
For a larger magnetic surface, try magnetic contact paper. You can place it wherever you want and cover however much area you want.
Here’s the piece de resistance – magnetic paint! Turn practically ANYTHING (or part of anything) into a magnetic surface by giving it a fresh coat of color. Walls, cabinets, furniture, picture frames, mantels, you name it! It works as a primer, too, so you can paint over it in whatever color you want.
2. Pressed Pennies
You know what I mean by pressed pennies, right? At many museums and attractions, you put a penny (or whatever local coin) into a machine which flattens it out and imprints an image relating to that location. There are lots of books and flat displays for these elongated pennies available. But what about something more unique?
Probably my favorite pressed penny display I’ve seen is a piece of art based on the Pixar movie “Up”. In the movie, a man attaches a ton of balloons to his house so that it actually leaves the ground and flies away on adventures. The travel aspect of this movie makes it perfect for a souvenir artwork but you can create whatever you want. Use the pressed pennies as a bunch of balloons, which you can add to as your collection grows. Then paint, draw, attach, or otherwise create whatever you want your balloons to be carrying. Perhaps a house, like in Up, or maybe a basket (like a hot air balloon), a person (yourself or your family?), a character, a vehicle, anything you want.
Mosaic Table Top
This might essentially look similar to a display book but it’s otherwise very different and functional. An end table or coffee table works well for this. Arrange your pressed pennies on the top and cover in epoxy resin. These typical souvenirs instantly become an extremely original piece of furniture.
If you’re a jewelry wearer, this is a cool way to display your souvenir pennies on yourself. With a small drill, you can create a hole in any penny to insert a jump ring, string, or small chain. Create earrings, necklaces, charm bracelets, whatever you like to wear. Or, if you’re not super handy with tools, you can get ready-made pressed penny jewelry bases to insert your coins into.
Postcards might be the most common souvenir item you can find. Often sent to others back home, some people like to keep postcards for themselves. I’ll often buy ones of places where I wasn’t allowed to take photos or if there’s one with an unusual angle to add to my photo album/scrapbook. Or try these other cool ways to display postcards.
I often keep a travel diary. Put a unique spin on it with postcards. Every day of your trip, or for every new place you visit, write your experiences there on the back of a postcard from the place. When you get home, bind these together for a visual as well as written record of your trip. You can use a ready-made book or photo album, or try sewing them together with string and a large needle. Or punch a couple of holes in each and either tie them together with string or loop them onto key rings. For added fun you can actually mail the postcards to yourself from your travel destination so you get the stamp and post office info on there, too.
Door Frame Surround
To put your postcards up on the wall without taking up a ton of space or using poster board or a frame, try arranging them around a door frame. This makes it seem more like an artistic architectural feature, rather than a standard piece of wall art.
Another very common souvenir item, keychains are actually functional in their own right. You can always use them for your keys! Or attach them to bags or zipper pulls. Or try something a little different.
Keychains are readymade to hang. You can create an incredible mobile anyway you want with keychains. Get a premade kit, use old wire hangers or small branches. Arrange the keychains at different levels and angles into a harmonious 3D hanging sculpture. You can even hang a light in the middle as a chandelier!
One of my go-to souvenir options is keychain jewelry. Similar to the pressed penny jewelry, keychains are already set up to hang so it’s a lot easier. I like to get two of the same or similar fun keychain and turn them into earrings. Just remove the key ring part and add your favorite style of earring wires or hanging studs. Necklaces are even easier!
Ah, the souvenir t-shirt. Often ill-fitting and poorly made but with fun designs. This is another typical souvenir that’s already designed to be “displayed” – you wear it. There are other things you can do if you think of your t-shirt collection more as “souvenir fabric”. They don’t have to stay t-shirts!
Cut the design part of a bunch of souvenir t-shirts out. Arrange them into a large rectangle and sew them together to create a quilt. You can make a quilt cover easily, especially if you make sure to cut equal sized squares from each shirt. Or if you’re feeling more ambitious, add batting to create the quilt itself.
Curtains are a slightly smaller fabric item that can be created in the same way. As different shirts and colors will let light in differently, however, you may want to line the back with a solid, heavier fabric. You could even sew all your t-shirt pieces onto a set of inexpensive pre-made curtains.
The easiest and smallest “souvenir fabric” project is to make a scarf. Line up your t-shirt cut outs in a long strip and sew together. You can add a cozy fleece backing or make your scarf double sided with different shirts on each side.
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