Little souviners

Jun 19th, 2002, 09:53 AM
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Little souviners

I'm wondering if anyone could give me any advice on small, inexpensive, not terribly plastic or touristy souviners I could get for the multiple friends/family members that (sigh) will all be expecting something. I'll be visiting Germany, Italy, Switzerland, France, and England, so I'm sure I'll be bombarded with 10 million choices; any advice will be welcome
Jun 19th, 2002, 10:07 AM
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Magnets and shot glasses are always the most-requested items from my friends. How much are you willing to spend? I also bring home Kinder Surprise eggs for the kids, and sometimes mini-alcohol bottles (for spirits of that region for the adults. Or just chocolate from that region......Milka from Germany, for example.
Jun 19th, 2002, 10:09 AM
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Shot glasses can be found for pretty cheap in most places. Little beerstein ones from Germany. Little eiffel towers from Paris. Chocolate is fairly cheap and really good. And if you're a photographer, I'd frame a couple of really nice photos and pass those out (enlarged prints) when you get home. Most tourist shopping places also have things like plates or salt/pepper shakers, etc. I make a list of people I HAVE to get stuff for and about how much I want to spend total and go from there. Then check off the list as i go along.
Jun 19th, 2002, 10:27 AM
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I have some good ideas for this. Go into local grocery stores and get neat looking food gifts. For example, in France, you can get La Baleine sea salt and it comes in a beautiful little container, or you can get neat spice mixes, pure vanilla, or chocolates, candies, etc. I like these kinds of gifts much more than a mini eiffel tower or shot glass. The only concern about chocolate is it melts easily.

In France I also have gone to the big shopping stores (giant, carrefour) and bought baby clothes, children's books, decorative (coffee-table style) books--the fact that they're not in english makes them more exotic, dishtowels, decorative plates, mugs with french captions on them, salt and pepper shakers, etc. There is nothing as cute as baby clothes with little french captions on them, but you have to know someone with a baby for that to work!

Another idea from france--lavender sachets, which are all over the south of France in tourist and regular stores. They come in little provencal fabric packets and you can buy a bunch of them for cheap. Great for co-workers.

We used to buy souvenirs for other people. We don't do that anymore. Now we just tell them we had a great time. We don't make any excuses for not buying gifts for them. I think it's a very kind gesture, but don't forget this is your vacation not a comissioned shopping trip for your friends and family. Part of being on vacation means not thinking about home at all. But I think it's very kind of you to get souvenirs. Have a wonderful time, you are going to great places!!

Jun 19th, 2002, 10:27 AM
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I suggest a pareau for each person - very "in" this year. I understand from previous posts that they are in short supply in certain places - incuding Zurich and Paris.
Jun 19th, 2002, 10:29 AM
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Magnets are always fun. In London, we found some really cute double decker bus magnets and some like the red phone booths you see in England. Really different. Also in London, at the Whittard's on Carnaby Street (they probably are sold at other stores too), I bought the prettiest hand painted china trivets for setting your coffee (or tee) mug on. They were 4 pounds each and are just lovely. The store wrapped them in several layers of paper, but I had also taken a large sheet of bubble wrap with me that I used to protect them on the way home. They made great gifts.
Jun 19th, 2002, 10:30 AM
Jo Anne
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I usually get small books at bookstores, street markets, historical sites, etc. I also collect "paper" items - ticket stubs, rail/subway tickets, restaurant receipts - anything that's a good "ad" for a particular location. I bring them home and then have them laminated as bookmarks. I match the bookmarks and books; makes for a more personal gift.
Also, try to remember this is your vacation and you should spend your time wisely - not wasting time shopping for everyone else. I've gradually cut back on giving gifts since it's too time consuming and you end up having too much stuff to take back home.
To my surprise, I have discovered that some of the items I would have bought can be found FOR LESS right here in the states (Ross, TJMaxx, Cost Plus, Pier 1 Imports, etc.)
Jun 19th, 2002, 10:44 AM
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ok, I'll bite hiho, although I don't know how you have time to do this while also writing up your briefs/guardian ad litem papers...

if pareus are so in this year, why are they hard to come by in two major cities?

don't you need the use of logic in your chosen profession?
Jun 19th, 2002, 10:52 AM
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In Paris, we went to BHV and bought some French school supplies for our young nieces and nephews. The store had stencils of the EU and France, fun calendars in French, GREAT art supplies.
In London, I bought nice leather bookmarks at Westminster Abbey, the Tower, in Oxford - they are embossed and very nice and certainly easy to pack. We also get tea towels for our moms - the love the linen ones. In Italy, we bought ceramic, handpainted wine stoppers.
Jun 19th, 2002, 11:00 AM
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After reading all these good ideas, a thought struck me--you might be setting a precedent if you buy gifts for all kinds of people. If you plan to travel much in the future and you buy everyone gifts this time, you'll certainly be expected to do so next time as well. Yikes!

Jun 19th, 2002, 11:05 AM
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There was a thread a while back about souvenir shopping in grocery stores, that elicited umpteen posts agreeing that they're gold mines for cheap, unique, and actually useful gifts.

I'll add to that pharmacies, hardware stores, stationery shops, toy stores, record/cd shops, home furnishing shops or departments, bookshops, and the post office for cool stamps - very collectable and colorful, plus they don't take up much space. Or buy postcard "series" (like reprints of old Guiness ads, etc.) and frame them up when you get home. Thing light, foldable, flat, mailable, colorful.
Jun 19th, 2002, 11:13 AM
waste of time & money
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I think you are very generous.

I used to buy souveniers now I don't, except for people who have done a favor for me while I'm gone, i.e., watered my plants, etc.

You just end up wasting money on something that doesn't really mean anything to the person anyway. If I haven't been to London, for example, what the hell do I want with a toy double decker bus? Or a bookmark? I mean, souveniers mean something to the person who has actually BEEN to the place to have a memory.

People that ask/expect that you get them something are inconsiderate. Vacations are very expensive and usually require sacrifice on the person taking them. Those tatty little $5 stupid things that no one appreciates add up...

That being said, if I see something beautiful that I think would make someone particularly happy, I buy it for them. But it has to have meaning and resonance. Of course, I do this at home too.

Just my opinion! You are certainly sweet to do it, Sarah, though the tone of your message (sigh) indicates you think it's a bit of a drag too!

Have a super time on your trip!
Jun 19th, 2002, 12:00 PM
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I love to buy souveniers! Prefer something unbreakable. I only buy things I'd like to have myself. And as I always overdo it I share with my immediate family letting them pick few items. I also buy same 5 items for my 5 co-workers. That's it. The rest get cards or pictures - they do
double-prints anyway.
Jun 19th, 2002, 12:21 PM
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We found some nice little ceramics in Orvieto - spoon rests, candlesticks, little bowls, little ceramis snails (we were told they meant good luck).
Jun 19th, 2002, 01:53 PM
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Fabric - potholders, tea towels, lace doilies, handkerchiefs, t-shirts

Paper - postcards, greeting and notecards, small prints, bookmarks, blank journals, calendars

Metal - magnets, keychains, miniatures (people, cars, lamp posts, public transportation, etc.)

Plastic - pens, magnets, pencil sharpeners, coasters

Ceramic - ashtrays, pin trays, cups, ramekins, salt&pepper shaker

Glass - drinking glasses, shot glasses, milk pitchers

Jun 19th, 2002, 06:04 PM
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you can make pareus out of Souleiado fabrics. true, you will look like Scarlett O'Hara wearing her Mother's drapes, but still, so very chic! just don't ask me to wear them. all that salt in my diet makes my ankles swell.
Jun 19th, 2002, 08:50 PM
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Years ago my parents went to Jamaica. Rather then carry stuff back, we took a little trip to Cost Plus, bought some serving trays and I wrote "Made in Jamaica" on them.
I think chocolate from Cost Plus would be great and you could even confess to having bought it here.
Trinkets, sminkits... show me the chocolate.
Jun 21st, 2002, 07:41 AM
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Sarah, I know exactly how you feel! It is usually either people who never travelled overseas, or the ones knowing how it is, with a passion for other countries and cultures (who do travel, but cannot afford to go everywhere they wish to! Like me!)who appreciates something when you return.

I agree with all the others, and want to add coffee (filter) - cheap in Italy, light to pack! And for cooks, I bought porcini in Assisi last year - they were so impressed! Again cheap and light (though a bit smelly!) Yes, in France I support the lavender sachets - they are very cheap, light - and smell wonderful! Also nice soap bars - in France they are so good, and easy to carry along!

Enjoy your trip!!

Kindest regards.

Helen Malan
Jun 21st, 2002, 10:52 AM
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I agree with some of the previous comments. Try not to get in the habit of buying things for people back home. They will come to expect it from you every time you travel. You will spend too much of your valuable sightseeing time stuck in gift shops,worrying about what to buy, how much to spend, who you still need to get something for, etc. And after a while you will begin to really resent it. On a recent trip I missed seeing one last site I really wanted to see because I had to finish my shopping to be sure I had something for everyone. Just don't get started!
Jun 21st, 2002, 11:23 AM
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I'll repeat grocery story suggestion. As John mentioned there was an interesting thread a few weeks ago on finding items in local grocery store --- you'll come up with unique & useful things that can be more memorable than magnets or t-shirts.


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