Sometimes the worst part of a great trip is trying to find good souvenir gifts for family and friends.
Souvenirs brought home as mementos or thank yous don't have to be the typical t-shirts, baseball hats or (horror of horrors) ashtrays or souvenir spoons.
No need for souvenirs gifts to be tacky or tasteless (unless you want them to be, some people really enjoy those t-shirts) and no reason for them to be expensive either.
All it takes is a little thought and to look in unexpected places.
While souvenir stores can be a great deal of fun to poke through there are lots of different places to pick up interesting and unique gifts.
The best souvenirs are those that tend to capture the image of the country that you are traveling through (tea from England, cheese from France, wine from Italy ) but with a twist.
Instead of just tea from England something that is tea related like a little tea infuser, cheese knives, spreaders or forks from France and perhaps a wine stopper from Italy
Instead of popping the souvenirs into a bag place them in a small box when you get home and for wrapping paper use one of the many tourist maps that you can pick up for free during your travels.
These maps are easily available at tourist offices, hotel lobbies or tourist sites.
Make a bow for your box from thin stripscut from the same map and curl them with a pair of scissors (you gently but firmly pull a strip of paper against the sharp edge of the scissor and it will curl).
A little card can also be made from a scrap piece of map by gluing it to a 2 inch by 5 inch piece of coloured heavy paper and folding it in half to make the card. The added benefit of using a map for wrapping paper is when the recipients unwraps the gift they can see where you have traveled.
For something a little different try visiting a local grocery store where you could pick up a canned local specialty such as clotted cream, lobster bisque, shrimp or whatever is interesting. Just make sure that you know what the laws are about bringing food back home.
If you can find a grocery store flier pack it with your gift, it is fascinating to see what the store specials are from around the world. Local magazines dealing with a hobby or interest of the person you plan to give it to can also be a fun souvenir for them.
If you have several children to buy for why not bring home foreign candy or chocolate bars, kids are always interested in what other children get as treats. Add a coin or two from that country and a postcard and put it in a clear bag tied with colorful ribbons.
Remember though that if you bring something home from one trip they will expect something every time you travel.
Cookie cutters are easy to find where ever you travel and a light and easy thing to pack. Chose your theme from the country you are at, maybe a teapot shape from England, a surfboard from Hawaii, a crab from Maine, a Maple Leaf from Canada, a Kiwi from New Zealand or if you just can't think of anything perhaps an airplane shaped cookie cutter. Couple this with a post card and you have a cute but thoughtful gift.
Post cards are usually very inexpensive if you are buying in bulk. Use them as gift tags on larger presents so your recipient can see immediately that it is a souvenir gift. Use a hole punch to make a hole in the corner of the post card and use ribbon to tie it on to the gift.
We know that you can get souvenir towels from any tourist trap you go to but for someone with a pool or summer home another beach towel is always appreciated and some of the graphics on them can be stunning. Even for you self beach towels from your travels are a fun reminder of were you've been.
Did a brother-in-law come by everyday while you were on vacations to check on your pool? A cheeky set of bathing shorts could be an appropriate thank you. It will be totally up to you whether to get them in a boxer or speedo style.
The point of bringing back anything is just to say, "I was thinking of you and I thought that you might enjoy this".
So keep your eyes out for hardware stores, general stores and grocery stores. With a little imagination your souvenir gifts can be the talk of you friends and family and the ones they always look forward to receiving.
In a rush but want to explore More Style Than Cash further when you have time? Add me to your Favorites or follow me on Twitter.
For more Articles chose from Crafts, Decorating, Food and Entertaining, Fashion, Gift Giving, Stationery and Cards, Health and Beauty, Kids, or Money Matters.
Photography and Content
Copyright Ingrid Talpak 2009