Etiquette Hell

A Civil World. Off-topic discussions on a variety of topics. Guests, register for forum membership to see all the boards. => Time For a Coffee Break! => Topic started by: Thipu1 on April 01, 2013, 09:22:27 AM

Title: Souvenirs From Travels
Post by: Thipu1 on April 01, 2013, 09:22:27 AM
Another thread brought this question to mind.

When you travel, do you bring home souvenirs for family and friends?

While we were working, it was expected to provide 'tribute' for the office crowd.  This usually took the form of food that could be left on the break room table.  Black cake from the Caribbean was popular as were cookies specific to various parts of Europe. 

For family, we don't bother unless we find something that's perfect for a particular person.  When we went to St. Anne de Beaupre I was under orders to buy rosaries for my mother and aunts and have them blessed at the site.

 A part of our family has the surname Crabbe.  Of course, we have to raid the souvenir shops when
we visit Baltimore to find something new.  They don't ask for it but cool, crabs items are always welcome in the Holiday packages. 

Otherwise, we don't bother doing much souvenir shopping because nobody in the family does. 

What do you do?





Title: Re: Souvenirs From Travels
Post by: siamesecat2965 on April 01, 2013, 09:34:20 AM
I really only buy souveniers if I'm going somewhere I've never been, or maybe is out of the ordinary, or has something I know my parents would like. They were the only ones I really brought anything back for, and now just my mom. The same goes for me. My rule of thumb is if i can get it at home, I don't buy it, or I can use it (t-shirt, hat from destination). Otherwise, I don't bring much back, even for myself.

I will also try and bring something I know is a consumable (i.e. rum from Bermuda) or something they will like and use. But I don't do tchokes.  I went to Spain in HS, and brought back these lovely ashtrays (both smoked) and flower pots, and some very pretty lacey napkins, which my mom still has and uses!



Title: Re: Souvenirs From Travels
Post by: Luci on April 01, 2013, 09:37:08 AM
We used to, but now everyone travels anyway and it's a matter of too many people who already think they have too much stuff, so an item must be really awesome and perfect. We usually only get shot glasses and take pictures for an album for us.

My step-mother was great, though. My favorites were a poncho from Peru and a lovely plate from Brazil and a terrific silver necklace from Algeria. These were Christmas gifts - much better than a crockpot or ugly blouse!

We never worked where food gifts were expected, probably because we were both in education and vacations were taken during the summer so the food probably wouldn't be much appreciated 2 months later, even stuff that's supposed to last awhile.
Title: Re: Souvenirs From Travels
Post by: rose red on April 01, 2013, 09:39:08 AM
At one workplace, we started a tradition of buying magnets so there were a ton of them sticking all over our metal desks.  We also buy food sometimes, especially chocolates.

Our family also don't buy for each other unless we stumble on something they will love.  I used to buy little trinkets (pens, keychains) for friends, but I don't anymore.  I still buy for their children though.
Title: Re: Souvenirs From Travels
Post by: Coralreef on April 01, 2013, 09:39:28 AM
I bring back something very specific to the location, it's usually scarves/totebags, business card holders, jewelry, candies/cookies/chocolates anything that can be used or eaten. I don't give "dust collectors" as my mother used to say. 

I bring back stuff for my children and close family members/friends, but not for everyone I come into contact with.  I do bring back a bag of local candies for the office to share, but that's it.

Title: Re: Souvenirs From Travels
Post by: lady_disdain on April 01, 2013, 09:53:15 AM
I am not fond of junky souvenir trinkets.

I do like to have mementos from my travels but I prefer to buy a single, nice item (a good piece of ceramics instead of the tourist shop ware, a scarf made by a local artisan, etc) instead of the magnets, bottle openers, etc. I rarely buy decorative items, so most of my home is decorated with things from my travels.

I dislike bringing back things for everyone, mainly because I am not a shopper and I rarely see something nice, small and inexpensive that I could bring for several people. I sometimes see something perfect for a particular person but, then, it is awkward to bring something for someone but not others (a pity because it isn't favouritism, it is the luck of the draw!). I try to get some local delicacy to share when I return. My favourite thing, though, is to pick some local recipes and the critical ingredients, to throw a themed dinner on my return.
Title: Re: Souvenirs From Travels
Post by: Luci on April 01, 2013, 09:57:49 AM

My favourite thing, though, is to pick some local recipes and the critical ingredients, to throw a themed dinner on my return.

Oooooo! Thanks for the idea! (Except for boudan balls, of course  ;)  It's OK, I'm southern.)
Title: Re: Souvenirs From Travels
Post by: BatCity on April 01, 2013, 11:43:46 AM
For work, we bring home magnets for the break room fridge.

For friends, I bring home bookmarks. They are small and easy to pack, reasonably priced, and always appreciated.
Title: Re: Souvenirs From Travels
Post by: Promise on April 01, 2013, 12:51:13 PM
When my children were at home, I'd bring back something I'd know they would like. For instance, I brought back jeweled knives from Istanbul or sharks' teeth necklace from Hawaii. However, now, I only bring back consumables. Candy from Japan, Kona coffee from Hawaii, Cherry wine from Michigan, etc. When I worked in an office, I'd bring back a sampling from a work related business trip (Hawaii Kona coffee was a must). For family, if it was close to Christmas, I'd give a unique food item as a gift. Generally, a souvenir is only for the person who went somewhere. Why give someone a tchotke from someplace that they didn't visit unless it's your child? Most people don't want a memento from someone else's trip. My personal souvenirs are experiences and memories not material things.
Title: Re: Souvenirs From Travels
Post by: emwithme on April 01, 2013, 12:52:50 PM
I have present "traditions" with two friends.

With one friend, we buy each other an ugly tea-towel.  The best one that I've received has various Maltese recipes for octopus on. 

My BFF and I buy each other "ugly icons".  The tackier, the better.  Last time I went away I got her a really garish one that is a fridge magnet. 

And, like others, you have to buy sweets or similar to go in the kitchen at work. 
Title: Re: Souvenirs From Travels
Post by: Cami on April 01, 2013, 02:16:14 PM
I generally do not bring back souvenirs for work.  I used to do so and usually brought back food items for everyone to share, but I got really turned off from it a few years ago due to behavior at my workplace. My workplace is ordered such that while we have a hierarchy on paper, in reality both "managers" and "associates" work as full teammates. There was far more socialization between a manager and an associate than amongst the managers separate from the associates and vice versa.  Imagine the surprise of the associates when one after another of the managers were all given opportunities to attend conferences abroad (and the associates were not) and the managers brought back extravagant gifts only for the other managers and nothing for the associates. It left a very bad lingering taste in the mouths of the associates that negatively affected professional and personal relationships. Five years later, it is still occasionally brought up.

For people in my personal life, I do not make a habit of bringing back souvenirs unless I see something perfect for a particular person.
Title: Re: Souvenirs From Travels
Post by: cicero on April 01, 2013, 02:32:59 PM
I don't. I used to bring back chocolates for the work crowd , but everyone is on a diet and we were asked not to bring.

For ds I bring a magnet ( we try to get magnets from places we visit), usually a t shirt, and sometimes either something Japanese or something cat/animal related. I was recently in Brussels for a day on my way home from the States, so I got him a little lace wall hanging of cats.

Title: Re: Souvenirs From Travels
Post by: magicdomino on April 01, 2013, 04:11:22 PM
The office gets candy.  Everyone else gets Christmas presents.  I try to find things made locally, along the lines of shopping at craft shows.

Edited to add:  I get one very good present for myself, again something locally made.  Alpaca sweater from Peru, silk embroidered picture from China, garnet necklace in Prague, Waterford vase from Ireland (the factory store had a 50% off shelf  :D )
Title: Re: Souvenirs From Travels
Post by: Hmmmmm on April 01, 2013, 05:07:55 PM
I never bring back things for the office. If a co- worker did me a favor while out, I might bring that person a gift of thanks.

I used to travel a couple of times per month and would bring the kids gifts when they were little, but they started getting to spoiled.

For vacations, I might pick up a gift for friends or family who is pet sitting or if I see something a friend or family member might like.

Our standard souvenir that we keep are magnets or Christmas ornaments. But I also like to buy jewelry when on trips.
Title: Re: Souvenirs From Travels
Post by: Outdoor Girl on April 01, 2013, 05:18:35 PM
When I worked in a team where there were only four of us, I would bring something back for the other three people.  One of them collected shot glasses so that was easy; one of them was my cat sitter so I got her something more substantial.  The other person I didn't particularly care for but couldn't leave out so I got her something relatively impersonal.

I have brought things back for my family like t-shirts but haven't in a while.  My new workplace is 17 of us so I don't bring anything back.  I do bring something back for the person who looks after my cats.
Title: Re: Souvenirs From Travels
Post by: PastryGoddess on April 01, 2013, 11:44:50 PM
I'm a picture taker.  So my "souvenir" is to share all of my pictures with friends and family.  I will typically offer 10-20 pics that people can download.  The rest are viewing only.   

I do like to shop, but I shop for myself, not for other people.  When I go out of the country I tend to buy things like jewelry or accessories, so I can wear it. If I'm traveling domestically, I don't buy much, if anything at all. 
Title: Re: Souvenirs From Travels
Post by: afbluebelle on April 01, 2013, 11:46:20 PM
I buy shot glasses and magnets. Including cool airports, because that is the only place the Air Force sends me half of the time. I also try to find cool local stuff if I am in a country more than a layover's worth of time.
Title: Re: Souvenirs From Travels
Post by: Ereine on April 02, 2013, 02:19:15 AM
I'd like to bring something small to my family or friends but the last times I've traveled I haven't managed it and have felt slightly guilty. I dislike actual souvenirs but like things like small soaps made with local sheep's milk that were shaped like sheep I got from a Dutch island, small and consumable seems to be best. Or a rock or something, the best souvenir I've ever gottten was possibly a giant pine cone a friend brought me.

My father used to travel quite a lot when I was a child and we would give him lists of cds and comic books and things like that that were difficult to find in our home town then (a comic book store in San Francisco in late 90s was apparently quite surprised to hear that two Finnish girls had looked up their address online and sent their father there with a list of Sandman comics). We're adults now and he still sometimes brings something from his travels but often it's something a bit strange like the time I got four mini pie dishes and thermos bottle from Ikea from their trip to Northern Sweden, I live a few kilometers from Ikea myself.
Title: Re: Souvenirs From Travels
Post by: iridaceae on April 02, 2013, 03:41:50 AM
I buy tons of souvenirs. Work gets cheap trinkets but I must say the Hanbok wearing Teddy bear cellphone trinkets I got for everyone when in South Korea were the best gift ever ; most of them still have them and cherish them.

Friends get better stuff like the wallhangings made by Kuna Indians in Panama. Same with family.

My boss mainly gets chocolate; he is a huge chocoholic.

For myself I buy what I like whether it is a nice bright purple silk purse from Bellagio, Italy or a cheap but pretty Venetian mask magnet. And lots of tee shirts.
Title: Re: Souvenirs From Travels
Post by: Redsoil on April 02, 2013, 05:18:20 AM
For those bringing back things like pinecones, or foodstuffs, do you not have difficulties with Customs at the airport?
Title: Re: Souvenirs From Travels
Post by: Thipu1 on April 02, 2013, 05:39:44 AM
We've never had any problems with the food we've brought. 

Things like fresh fruit wouldn't be allowed but packaged baked goods or things like hot sauces and jams are just fine. 
Title: Re: Souvenirs From Travels
Post by: Ereine on April 02, 2013, 07:01:05 AM
The pinecone I got from my friend was from Ireland and after Finland joined EU so it was easier with customs. Finnish customs is more interested in alcohol and tobacco products and collecting taxes and the laws aren't as strict as in other places but there are rules for importanting plants and parts of them. Within EU there seem to be a few restrictions, outside EU there are more. For foods there seem to be less rules (though you can only bring one fish from certain countries outside the EU or 2 kilos of frog legs. And too bad if an American tourist wants to bring their own cheese with them, it's not allowed). So obviously that sort of souvenirs only work if they're legal.
Title: Re: Souvenirs From Travels
Post by: lady_disdain on April 02, 2013, 08:08:45 AM
Sealed food is usually not a problem for customs. Fresh food is usually not ok. You should also check spices, as whole seeds may not be allowed in.
Title: Re: Souvenirs From Travels
Post by: Thipu1 on April 02, 2013, 08:14:30 AM
True.  The USA, especially California and Florida are very strict about plants.  Understandably, they don't want to expose themselves to diseases and pests that could damage their crops.

On cruises, many first-time passengers try to take fruit off the ship for a snack on the flight home.  Even through the fruit was originally taken aboard in Florida, bringing it back in is strictly verboten.
Title: Re: Souvenirs From Travels
Post by: Nikko-chan on April 02, 2013, 08:41:36 AM
I don't travel, sadly. however, this thread brought back a memory. When I was a very little girl, my grandma was still well enough to travel, and she used to often go to florida. She would bring back two sets of gifts. One set for us little ones, and one for the older cousins. The one I remember most? A cup that was a cartoony alligator!
Title: Re: Souvenirs From Travels
Post by: siamesecat2965 on April 02, 2013, 09:20:48 AM
I have present "traditions" with two friends.

With one friend, we buy each other an ugly tea-towel.  The best one that I've received has various Maltese recipes for octopus on. 

My BFF and I buy each other "ugly icons".  The tackier, the better.  Last time I went away I got her a really garish one that is a fridge magnet. 

And, like others, you have to buy sweets or similar to go in the kitchen at work.

I LOVE teh tea towel idea!  I might have to steal that one from you!
Title: Re: Souvenirs From Travels
Post by: guihong on April 02, 2013, 10:12:49 AM
I don't buy touristy souveniers, but like to shop local stores.  I'm also always finding "free" stuff-placemats, chopsticks, the goody bags from the airplane, etc.

For others, I look for interesting jewelry, a book about wherever I was, paperweights or magnets.  The kids always go for T-shirts.
Title: Re: Souvenirs From Travels
Post by: lady_disdain on April 02, 2013, 10:31:21 AM
Books! How could I have forgotten books?

I have greatly reduced the number of books I buy when I travel, since there are few books you can't get online now but I keep my eye out for locally published stuff - short stories, local folklore, etc. My big score was a book of local recipes from Mexico, written down by some of the older women in a small town, in a kind of "church recipe book".
Title: Re: Souvenirs From Travels
Post by: jayhawk on April 02, 2013, 01:55:50 PM
We generally don't bring back souvenirs for others. Last year, our family vacation was a reunion and heavily subsidsized by my mom. We were in Southhaven Michigan which is famous for its blueberries, so I bought mom a nice gift basket of blueberry items. She appreciated it.

We like to find Christmas tree ornaments that reflect the area we're in to bring back. Small and a lot of fun to remember vacations when we decorate the tree every eyar.
Title: Re: Souvenirs From Travels
Post by: Kaypeep on April 02, 2013, 02:06:42 PM
I really dislike touristy gifts given by others.  I don't want or need magnets, shotglasses,  tshirts or mugs.  To me I think it's silly to have a momento of "INSERT CITY NAME HERE" when I, in fact, never visited said city.  The only souvenirs I've enjoyed were gifts I would have enjoyed no matter where they were purchased. My mom got me a Waterman fountain pen from Paris, and some irish lace in Dublin.  My SIL brought me back a cd from Italy of an italian artist that is not sold here in the US.  I liked those gifts because it told me that the giver knew me and what I would like.
Title: Re: Souvenirs From Travels
Post by: afbluebelle on April 02, 2013, 07:37:26 PM
I really dislike touristy gifts given by others.  I don't want or need magnets, shotglasses,  tshirts or mugs.  To me I think it's silly to have a momento of "INSERT CITY NAME HERE" when I, in fact, never visited said city. 

But.. but... It's a magnet of the Corn Palace! Everyone needs one of those!

Title: Re: Souvenirs From Travels
Post by: Thipu1 on April 02, 2013, 07:52:01 PM
I really dislike touristy gifts given by others.  I don't want or need magnets, shotglasses,  tshirts or mugs.  To me I think it's silly to have a momento of "INSERT CITY NAME HERE" when I, in fact, never visited said city. 

But.. but... It's a magnet of the Corn Palace! Everyone needs one of those!

I would love to have  a magnet from the Corn Palace.  Mr. Thipu and I have so many magnets we have thought abut getting a bigger refrigerator. 

Title: Re: Souvenirs From Travels
Post by: ladyknight1 on April 02, 2013, 08:41:43 PM
We have metal doors, and magnets decorate them nicely.  ;D

We collect bandanas, and once I get enough of them, I am going to make them into a quilt top. DH buys me a piece of art every trip, this one was a ceramic dish that has crackle glass in the middle and reflects light beautifully.  :) DS (14) always has to get some things for his friends. Our last trip to Colorado and New Mexico, we bought DH's parents each a beautiful mug which they use.
Title: Re: Souvenirs From Travels
Post by: gramma dishes on April 02, 2013, 09:09:19 PM
I don't buy souvenirs personally.  We take lots and lots of pictures and those are our souvenirs.

But we once went on a trip with a large group of people and there was a married couple on the trip who bought a Christmas tree ornament (or a small object that could be used as one) to remember each trip.  I thought that was kind of a neat idea!
Title: Re: Souvenirs From Travels
Post by: Moralia on April 02, 2013, 10:35:16 PM
When friends travel, I will sometimes send along a couple of labelled glass vials for them to put pebbles or sand to bring back. I pre-print tacky labels with the country of origin so they look like typical souvenirs and not anything suspect.  ;D  Eventually, I plan to build a special rack for the vials little brass plaques, it will hang next to a world map.
Title: Re: Souvenirs From Travels
Post by: Library Dragon on April 02, 2013, 11:44:57 PM
I usually only get a few nice things for myself/DH.  A silk scarf from Lyon, a nice cross from Bethlehem, etc.  When we go to Italy I look for non-perishable food stuffs that are hard to find in the US.

I do bring back things for work and friends. When I had a stop in Turkey I had joking requests for rugs.  I picked up a variation on these Turkish rugs with evil eye http://www.cafeanatolia.com/Turkish_Carpet_Wall_Hanging_with_Evil_Eye_Amulet_p/evileyehomedecor10.htm (http://www.cafeanatolia.com/Turkish_Carpet_Wall_Hanging_with_Evil_Eye_Amulet_p/evileyehomedecor10.htm). Mine were only $2. 

When I go to Vegas it may be candy casino chips.  I try and keep it small and fun. 

DS1 lives and breathes baseball, so a tshirt from the local team is appreciated. DS2 & DIL will usually get an edible treat.  The exception was last year's library convention when the guys from DC comics personalized autographed comics and created original artwork when I mentioned DS2 is in the Army. I earned mega mom points.
Title: Re: Souvenirs From Travels
Post by: Thipu1 on April 03, 2013, 08:21:30 AM
When I was a child, my mother was friendly with two sisters.  They lived together and traveled quite a bit. 

Every place they visited they tried to find a four inch square ceramic tile with a local scene.    Eventually, they had enough to tile a wall in their breakfast nook. 

It made quite a lovely display. 
Title: Re: Souvenirs From Travels
Post by: readingchick on April 03, 2013, 08:27:26 AM
When my SO and I go to northern Michigan (Mackinaw City, Mackinac Island and St. Ignace), he and I will get fudge and T-shirts for my parents.
Title: Re: Souvenirs From Travels
Post by: mbbored on April 06, 2013, 09:07:41 PM
I usually bring back consumables or unique home decorations (hand embroidered pillow cases from India, Morocco, China, paintings from street stands, etc) for myself. I pick up some time of consumable for anybody who did favors for me when I was gone and my lab mates. If I'm going somewhere interesting, I send postcards to my niece and nephew and buy a Christmas ornament or nativity scene for my mother.
Title: Re: Souvenirs From Travels
Post by: Awestruck Shmuck on April 06, 2013, 10:37:01 PM
My dad has always travelled a lot for work, and ever since I was a preteen, he would ask me to research and pick one local shop i'd like him to visit in his travels.

One of his best efforts was when I was a teen, he visited LA, and I'd read about 'Kitson' in some magazine. He went there and was pounced on by a sales assistant - and came back with some really cool things from that trip!

When I travel, I prefer to send postcards or take photos of things my family/friends would find funny/interesting. If I can find birthday/christmas presents that I can't get anywhere near home, then I'll pick up a few.

Oh, but I still have a dress my dad bought me when I was 12 - he stayed with a fellow academic in Chicago and there was a teenaged daughter in the house. She took him shopping and found some awesome clothes for my brother and I!
Title: Re: Souvenirs From Travels
Post by: cicero on April 07, 2013, 05:59:40 AM
When I was a child, my mother was friendly with two sisters.  They lived together and traveled quite a bit. 

Every place they visited they tried to find a four inch square ceramic tile with a local scene.    Eventually, they had enough to tile a wall in their breakfast nook. 

It made quite a lovely display.
I think i'm going to steal this idea!
Title: Re: Souvenirs From Travels
Post by: heartmug on April 09, 2013, 03:54:03 PM
When I was a child, my mother was friendly with two sisters.  They lived together and traveled quite a bit. 

Every place they visited they tried to find a four inch square ceramic tile with a local scene.    Eventually, they had enough to tile a wall in their breakfast nook. 

It made quite a lovely display.
I think i'm going to steal this idea!

That is a great idea!  Or have them framed together.
Title: Re: Souvenirs From Travels
Post by: Cami on April 09, 2013, 04:03:48 PM
When I was a child, my mother was friendly with two sisters.  They lived together and traveled quite a bit. 

Every place they visited they tried to find a four inch square ceramic tile with a local scene.    Eventually, they had enough to tile a wall in their breakfast nook. 

It made quite a lovely display.
What a great idea!
Title: Re: Souvenirs From Travels
Post by: dawbs on April 09, 2013, 05:05:30 PM
When I was a kid, and POGs were a (brief!) fad, we got those--mostly because it was a nice, cheap memento.  Although mine are pretty beat up because I actually played with them  :P.

I'll try to get something we actually need, with a twist.  So...we need a wine stopper?  great, we can get one w/ a piece of 'local' (to where we are) wood on it made by a local artisan.

other than that, I don't tend to buy for anyone except my kid.

Title: Re: Souvenirs From Travels
Post by: Thipu1 on April 10, 2013, 08:13:43 AM
When I was a child, my mother was friendly with two sisters.  They lived together and traveled quite a bit. 

Every place they visited they tried to find a four inch square ceramic tile with a local scene.    Eventually, they had enough to tile a wall in their breakfast nook. 

It made quite a lovely display.
What a great idea!

When we visited them, it was great fun to learn about the places and hear stories of their travels. 
Title: Re: Souvenirs From Travels
Post by: scotcat60 on April 13, 2013, 08:41:14 AM
My best friend at primary school and I used to bring each other a little gift from our holidays. I still have a little wooden box with coloured shells on the lid, and the name "Tintagel" painted on the side, which she brought me from a Cornish holiday over 50 years ago.

I brought home clothes, food, books, jewellery for myself as holiday mementos over the years. My parents brought my nephew a tartan cot blanket from Scotland, it's used for his own children now. I still use a letter rack they brought home from another Scottish holiday.
For other family and workmates, I would buy sweets.
Title: Re: Souvenirs From Travels
Post by: guihong on April 13, 2013, 08:57:48 AM
This thread reminds me of the Erma Bombeck book on her travels.  She devoted an entire chapter to shopping, always trying to find countries that challenged her.  Hong Kong was "one big mall...fun, but where is the challenge?"  She thought she was defeated on Easter Island..until she found the indigenous people swap  ;D.

My mom liked to find tiny teacups and saucers from wherever they were-England, Russia (she also brought home a teapot from there), China, Australia.  She had a rack across our dining room for the display.
Title: Re: Souvenirs From Travels
Post by: #borecore on April 13, 2013, 09:38:58 AM
I don't love displays of many of the same item -- I'm decidedly not a collector -- nor do I like things from others printed with the name of a place.

When I have traveled, I have given people who cat sit or drive me to the airport something consumable or personal. I gave people hand-carved wooden bracelets and coffee beans from Costa Rica (from a plantation I visited), for example. I bought the same stuff for myself. On other trips, I have bought similar wearable or edible unique things.

As a kid, my dad would usually bring back a tiny treat the first time he visited somewhere. Otherwise, I haven't received many souvenirs from others.
Title: Re: Souvenirs From Travels
Post by: 8cowwife on April 15, 2013, 03:45:48 PM
I don't buy souvenirs personally.  We take lots and lots of pictures and those are our souvenirs.

But we once went on a trip with a large group of people and there was a married couple on the trip who bought a Christmas tree ornament (or a small object that could be used as one) to remember each trip.  I thought that was kind of a neat idea!

We collect ornaments on our travels also.  We love looking at the Christmas tree each year and reminiscing about that place. We have been doing this for many years so most of our ornaments are travel related.

 I'm not big on typical souvenirs personally.  T-shirts, mugs, spoons, shot glasses, not my thing.  If there is something unique then I buy a sovenir to remind me.  I have a carnival mask from New Orleans, and my favorite is the jar of sand and shells we brought back from florida.  just seeing that makes me remember how much fun we had.