Finding the Right Souvenir

Style your home with the best items the world has to offer.

Souvenirs are so much more than just memorable tokens of an amazing beach, a stellar shopping spree, or a vineyard tour. If used in the right way, they can help decorate your home and even become works of art. Because it can be challenging to pick out just the right keepsake while you’re away, we asked five designers and one photographer to share their expert tips on how to procure top-notch pieces while maintaining your pad’s personal style.

Souvenir Piece 1

Rebecca West

Rebecca West Interiors
If you’re all about simplicity, then go for objects that evoke the happy memories of your trip. Going with your gut will influence your design style at home and ultimately give you a warm feeling every time you see the objects.

Expert Tip
“A simple postcard from each trip can evoke just as many memories as a big souvenir, especially if you write a personal note about the tastes, smells, and joys of that trip on the back while you are in the moment. These can be collected onto a postcard gallery wall, either in frames or on wire-clip systems, or tucked into the travel journal you kept along the way.”

Michael Abrams

Michael Abrams Limited
For the shopper with a flair for the worldly, watch out for locally themed souvenirs, which often come in the form of bold prints, fabrics, jewelry, and silver.

Expert Tip
“A little shine goes a long way. Some of my favorite souvenirs were purchased at a small silver shop in Buenos Aires.”

Souvenir Piece 2

Subtle, sophisticated items make a statement.

Corine Maggio

Corine Maggio Natural Designs
If you don’t have a particular style you’re aiming for, or don’t want to trouble with your home’s design while on vacation, focus on certain items that could work great in any setting.

Expert Tip
“Open-air markets can be gold mines. It really depends on where you are, but if it’s a good market, you’re almost guaranteed to find items that aren’t available anywhere else. It’s even better if you have the opportunity to meet the artist and hear their story. Not only do you then have something beautiful you can bring home that represents the local flavor of the place you went, but it can be a great talking piece when friends and family come over.”

Alix Flamm

Alix Flamm Designs
Perhaps what you’re looking for when it comes to souvenirs is something that’s not only visually striking, but also emblematic of the place itself.

Expert Tip
“Most cities and countries have specific items that they are famous for. Ireland, Spain, and England all make beautiful lace, crystal, or porcelain, for example.”

Betsy Helmuth

Affordable Interior Design
When traveling, it’s easy to get caught up in the sights, sounds, and places, which means buying things on a whim. Unless you’re planning to ship items home, it’s important to make sure what you buy travels well. (Helmuth remembers a snow globe from Paris that smashed in her luggage and covered everything with water and glitter.) Try to avoid origami, papier-mâché, and other objects that won’t survive being tossed around in luggage.

Expert Tip
Helmuth recommends speaking with locals to help figure out the best mementos to take home. As she puts it, “The locals always know.”

Souvenir Piece 3

Works of art can bring new life to your home.

Julie Schuster

Julie Schuster Design Studio
It’s important to figure out what your personal preferences are before you embark on souvenir shopping. Not everyone has the same tastes and purchasing a vase for your kitchen as opposed to your mother’s isn’t necessarily the same thing.

Expert Tip
According to Schuster, it’s a smart idea to think of your souvenirs as pieces of art. Some of the questions she suggests asking yourself include, “What style of art would you select? Traditional? Sleek and modern? Kitschy and kooky?” She also recommends just strolling down the beach and picking up beautiful shells—not everything you bring home has to have a price tag on it.

Jenna Pimentel

Jenna Pimentel Photography
At the end of the day, one of the best ways to remember a trip is with a photograph (or many). They’re easily portable and can perfectly capture a place, mood, and time.

Expert Tip
“When you’re deciding what photos to buy, stop and take a moment to think about what the photo is saying. Sure, it’s easy to take a picture of the crystal-blue waters of a Barbadian beach, but what about the oddly-shaped shells on the sand, or the woman selling fresh fruit at the market? What, to you, is more visually appealing, and what sticks out? For some people it’s lush landscapes and for others it’s a closeup of a really intricately carved door. Sometimes the unique is a better photographic keepsake than the lovely. Either way, you’re in control of what you put on your walls.”

Shelf SouvenirsBuying For Dummies

No idea what to get? No worries, we’ve got you covered.
Local: Foods Wines, cheeses, and preserves unique to your destination.
Journals: The perfect way to write down travel musings.
Scarves: Pick ones made with luxurious fibers in unique prints.
Books: Find a specialty bookstore with tomes from local writers.
Afghans: Cozy spreads are perfect accent pieces that easily spruce up any room.
Shells and Agates: If you’re by the shore, take a piece of the beach with you by snatching up these eye-catching natural wonders.

[©Image 4 courtesy of Bernhard Richter/; Image 5 courtesy of Alexander Tihonov/]

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