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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- CD’s: Look for local music.
- 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.