What's a creative souvenir?
March 23, 2007 4:20 PM   Subscribe

I need creative souvenir ideas.

I've been in Europe for three months and will be heading back to the States in a couple weeks and feel obligated to bring back some souvenirs. However, I don't want to bring a pile of key chains, t-shirts, and coffee mugs. I want some creative things. Any suggestions?

Note that the only major cities I will be going to before I leave are London (where I have been staying) and Budapest.
posted by BradNelson to Travel & Transportation (20 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Money. I used to love getting crazy foreign money.
posted by DU at 4:25 PM on March 23, 2007

Postage stamps, too. Some of them are beautiful.
posted by trip and a half at 4:34 PM on March 23, 2007

restaurant take-out menus.

your friends can leave them on their coffee table or on their desk as conversation items.
posted by Megafly at 4:39 PM on March 23, 2007 [1 favorite]

I always liked refrigerator magnets.
Interesting coasters from pubs and bars?
posted by MasonDixon at 4:41 PM on March 23, 2007

Simple textiles like linens or napkins or tablecloths are often emblematic and evocative of a specific culture and have the bonus of being inexpensive and easy to pack or ship.
You are very kind to be so thoughtful.
posted by Dizzy at 4:41 PM on March 23, 2007

Oh, Chocolate and/or candy from around the world?
posted by MasonDixon at 4:43 PM on March 23, 2007

I live in London. Are these souvenirs for yourself, or for gifts?

The London Transport Museum has a lot of fun merchandise themed around the Tube (Subway), and it's worth a visit for the exhibition. It's in Covent Garden.

The Tate Britain on Millbank is showing an exhibition on Hogarth, the 18th Century satirist, and has set up a shop selling 18th-century themed stuff. That would also be worth visiting for the exhibition, but is always crammed.

Waterstone's bookshop on Piccadilly - the largest bookshop in Europe - has a huge selection of books about London on the ground floor - well worth a look. Stanfords, the travel bookshop, is also worth a visit.

Is that any help? I could probably think of a few more suggestions.
posted by WPW at 4:44 PM on March 23, 2007

Kinder eggs!
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 4:47 PM on March 23, 2007

Stuff I've particularly loved in care packages from overseas friends:

-Food (candies, snackfoods, condiments, whatever travels well)
-Cookbooks focused on regional specialties
posted by Smilla's Sense of Snark at 5:00 PM on March 23, 2007

When I asked Croctommy what he wanted me to bring him from Latvia, he said "CDs of weird Latvian prog-rock." So yeah, some unusual local music might be good if your friends are the kind of folk who can appreciate it.

I usually ask my friends who are traveling to get me the cheesiest, cheapest souvenir they can find, but really that's just my way of telling them that I don't want them to spend very much money on it - I just want to know that they thought of me at least once while they were on holiday. Cheesy things that are totally local-made, not mass produced, are the best.
posted by matildaben at 5:31 PM on March 23, 2007

I second both Kinder Eggs and magnets.
posted by princelyfox at 5:35 PM on March 23, 2007

local newspapers.
posted by b33j at 5:56 PM on March 23, 2007

Cadbury chocolate
posted by k8t at 6:17 PM on March 23, 2007

If there are children (or playful adults) involved, definitely Kinder Eggs.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:18 PM on March 23, 2007

I second local newspapers - it's refreshing to read newspapers from different countries, and they're easy to pack.

If you've got a good camera, take some unique photos (i.e. of places other than the typical tourist areas) and give them to your friend/family member when you tell them the interesting story behind the picture.
posted by gursky at 6:40 PM on March 23, 2007

Chocolate! I'd rather have something I can consume and enjoy than a trinket to gather dust.
posted by srah at 8:38 PM on March 23, 2007

restaurant take-out menus

No, unless you have a personal joke, memory or connection with the place, please don't! This just screams of "I went to a foreign country and brought back something of mundane importance that is wacky and fascinating to me simply because it is not near my area/not in my language. Moreover, it is not important to me in any other way, either aesthetically, culturally, historically, or personally. In other words, I am flouting the idea that I was abroad, deliberately and casually, fetishizing/exoticizing the country I went to, and pretending that I am not."

To answer your question, though: local produce/chocolate/food has always worked for me -- something that's not exported. Local chocolate, especially. Wrap them in Tube maps, because Harry Beck's design is quite frankly awesome.
posted by suedehead at 10:56 PM on March 23, 2007

Movie posters. My husband brought back a stack of them when he was in Amsterdam recently. He didn't even know what the movies were, just picked out ones he thought looked interesting. I ended up with a Belgian poster for a Kurosawa film and an Italian one for "Down by Law," along with about 5 or 6 lurid, pulpy ones for 60s gladiator movies in French and Italian (and one for "Man of La Mancha" with Sophia Loren's beautiful bosoms!)
posted by macadamiaranch at 11:05 PM on March 23, 2007

My cousin likes funny socks, so I try to get a country/city theme pair wherever I go--her favorites are the neon green kiwifruit ones from New Zealand.
posted by brujita at 12:30 AM on March 24, 2007

srah, that's the beauty of Kinder Eggs - you get both!
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:01 AM on March 24, 2007

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