Save Money When Buying Souvenirs for Classmates, Friends and Co-Workers

A lot of times when you go shopping on vacation, it isn’t only those on the trip with you that you’re shopping for. You’ll probably want to get something for your friends, classmates, and family members who are back home. But how do you shop for other people plus yourself without breaking the bank? There are lots of fun and inexpensive souvenirs available that make great gifts.

Buying for your child’s classmates is probably the most expensive venture when shopping for others. With grownups you can get away with buying just for those with whom you are good friends. But in most cases with school groups if you buy something for one classmate, you should buy something for all the classmates to avoid playing favorites. This can add up fast. Here are some of the best ideas for “bulk” purchases suitable for classmates that are relatively inexpensive.

  • Candy/Food: Most destinations sell candy or food items wrapped in decorative papers or boxes. Some destinations have a signature candy/food (think salt water taffy at the beach) and some, like Hershey park, even make their own candy. You can get individual items for the kids, or buy a big box or bag that the class can share.
  • Pencils and Pens: These can be imprinted with the destinations’ name or logo.
  • Postcards: Get lots of different ones and kids can swap and tradefor the ones they really like.
  • Bookmarks.
  • Magnets.
  • Notepads.
  • Stickers.

Alternatively, you might want to purchase a larger gift that can be used by the classroom as a whole. Some ideas:

  • Sets of Markers or Crayons: Look for them in decorative boxes which are usually reasonably priced. Rather than buying one set for each student, you might purchase a few sets and donate them to the classroom for general use.
  • Calendars.
  • Stickers: These can be used as “rewards” in the classroom or to mark events on the calendar.
  • Art Activity Books: Those that teach how to draw animals or buildings from your destination.
  • Board Games: For rainy day recesses.
  • Books: Most destinations have a “local interest” bookstore with a kid’s section. Books on the architecture, art, or culture of a place are common. Even fiction set in your destination is a good gift. You might want to buy such a book for the classroom or donate it to the school library for everyone to use. If you donate it to the library, you can place a book plate inside the front cover saying something like “To Commemorate Joe Smith’s Beach Vacation, 2010.”
  • Christmas Ornament: If the class decorates a Christmas tree, a dated Christmas ornament makes a nice gift.

Buying for your coworkers is a bit easier because, unless you work for a very small company, you may get away with only buying for your true friends (and your boss, of course). Some inexpensive ideas for co-workers:

  • Food/Beverages: As with kids, food and beverages work well for adults. You may prefer to give gifts individually or just leave items in the break room with a card letting everyone know they are from you.
  • Coffee Mugs: These are widely available in both ceramic and travel mug designs.
  • Office Supplies: Many places sell all sorts of imprinted office supplies including staplers, paper clip holders, business card holders, note pads, portfolios, pencil holders, mouse pads, etc.
  • Calendars/Date Books.
  • Pens and Pencils These are available individually or in gift sets.
  • Bookmarks.
  • Books: Look for ones about local interests, culture, or legends.

What about your other friends and family? All of the ideas above work well for them, too. Here are a few more inexpensive ideas for those who might not like any of the above:

  • Christmas ornaments.
  • Pins/Costume Jewelry.
  • Auto Accessories: These are often available including sun shades, litter bags, license plate frames, door magnets, and bumper stickers.
  • Candles: look for them in decorative jars.
  • Local crafts.
  • Cell phone case.
  • Keychains.
  • CD’s: Look for local music.
  • Coasters.
  • Place mats.
  • Picture frames.

If you just can’t find something for someone on your list, maybe you can get something for their pet. Many places now sell t-shirts for pets, bowls or leashes imprinted with the destination name, decorative tags, or even pet treats in collectible tins.

These are just a few of the inexpensive souvenir items you can find at most destinations for everyone on your list. To make the gift even more special, ask for a gift box when you purchase. Some places offer free boxes or bags that are so cute you won’t need to wrap. It is possible to come home from vacation with something everyone will love without breaking the bank.

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7 Responses to Save Money When Buying Souvenirs for Classmates, Friends and Co-Workers

  1. Jaime says:

    You know, I’ve never really understood the idea of bringing home souvenirs for people who didn’t go to the destination with you. The whole point of a souvenir for me is to remember a great trip, so if you didn’t go on the trip, what’s the point? If you have a child who is going to talk about the trip as part of a “what did you do this summer?” or show and tell, then I can see maybe buying something to show or share with the class. But for adults, not so much.

    Now, when I went to Italy, I bought some glass for one of my bestfriends and my mom when I was in Venice and I bought some jewelry for my grandmothers in Florence and Rome. Those were more in the way of shopping requests than souvenirs of my trip. And, I succumbed to the keychains for some friends at work. I was struggling though to find something cheap enough to afford multiples of and that wasn’t totally cheap and embarrassing to hand out. Overall, hated giving those keychains out. They were good keychains as keychains go, but they just weren’t really meaningful – to them or me.

  2. snshijuptr says:

    The only people I think it appropriate to give souvenirs to are either children left behind at home or people who helped you with the trip (watching the house/pets/children, rides to airport, etc). Everyone else shouldn’t expect something after you take a trip.

  3. Joan.of.the.Arch says:

    This article strikes me as a bit odd. Do a lot of people really buy souvenirs for so many other people? For your children’s classmates? For co-workers? That seems over the top. Save even more money by not buying a lot of junk for a lot of people, no matter how modest you may think the souvenirs are compared to what you could have bought.

  4. JP says:

    One should not waste your money on souvenirs for things that people usually do not want. When buying souvenirs I always consider what the person might need.

  5. My Experience says:

    I worked as a Purchaser for a major souvenir/gift shop at the Grand Canyon National Park for 15 years.
    EVERYTHING and I do mean EVERYTHING is straight out of Japan with the exception of the Native American handcrafts.
    It was nothing but JUNK! Many of the items arrived damaged because it was so cheaply made.
    I noticed when visiting other places such as major amusement parks, zoos, and especially other national parks, that they all order the same merchandise!
    SAVE YOUR HARD-EARNED MONEY! If you want a souvenir, to take home or to give to another, TAKE PHOTOGRAPHS!

  6. Deb says:

    Before we went to Disney World with our children I purchased Disney items at a dollar store. A few times that week I gave the kids their souvenirs which were actually brought from home. We didn’t purchase anything in the expensive gift shops.

  7. Sam says:

    This is so true… get something that the person will want, not something they will throw away, that is just a waste of money.

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