We came. We saw. We conquered … the gift shop. Family vacations are an investment in experiences, providing an opportunity to relax, reconnect and make new memories through exploration and togetherness. After spending the time and money to get to your destination, souvenirs such as overpriced T-shirts or yet another stuffed animal seem like a frivolous use of space and budget — and don’t do justice to the memories of a great trip. Instead, try transforming small travel mementos into beautiful keepsake crafts. These three easy project ideas will become sentimental reminders of your family’s journeys for years to come. Bonus: Creating something beautiful together provides an opportunity to spend quality time with your children after your trip is over.
No-Sew Postcard Folio
Help your child create a record of every place they have ever traveled with a no-sew postcard folio. Beginning with baby’s first vacation, pick up a postcard on each trip and jot down your favorite vacation moments and memories. As your child grows, encourage them to fill out their own postcards to give this project extra personality.
- Small sheet of leather (available at most craft stores)
- Suede lacing (or ribbon, cord, twine, etc.)
- Hole punch
- Decorative charms
1. Once you’ve collected a few postcards, punch a hole in the top corner of each and keep them together with a loop of cording, ribbon or a small ring.
2. Cut the sheet of leather so that it will fold evenly over the cards — don’t worry too much about getting it just right, as imperfection adds character.
3. Fold the leather around the cards, wrap the lacing around the center, and secure with a loose knot.
4. Decorate with charms or inexpensive jewelry picked up on your travels for a fun, finished look.
Map Charm Jewelry
Collect your adventures like charms on a bracelet to create a travel log of your adventures with this easy and wearable map craft. It’s a geography lesson and a conversation starter all in one. Not crafty? Have no fear — this easy project takes little skill and gives great results.
- Charm blanks with a lip
- Glass cabochons
- Jump rings
- Jewelry clasp
- E6000 Glue
1. Decide on the look you want and pick out a bracelet to host your charms. Packs of charm blanks and glass cabochons of all shapes and sizes are available in the jewelry section of your local craft store.
2. Use a pencil to trace the shape of the charm around cities that you’ve visited on a map, and cut them out carefully.
3. Brush a thin layer of E6000 on the charm blank and insert the map piece inside. Allow it to dry before painting another thin layer on the flat part of the glass.
4. Press the glass firmly into place on top of the charm. Once the adhesive is dry, use pliers to open the jump hooks to attach the charms to the clasps.
5. Hook into place on your bracelet and add some charm to your travels.
One of the best parts of a beach vacation is finding ocean treasure along the shore. Collecting seashells is a fun activity for all ages and leaves you with a natural token of your time spent enjoying sunny days together. Display your finds and your memories as personalized coastal wall art with a photo gallery grid-turned-seashell shadowbox.
- Photo gallery grid frame or shadowbox
- Card stock
- Tape or glue
1. Create a photo grid of your favorite family vacation photos, leaving some squares blank. Try to get a good mix of nature and family shots to maximize your memories.
2. Cut four-inch squares from card stock and attach a shell to each using double-sided tape or glue.
3. Insert the shells into the empty sections, hang and enjoy a tangible reminder of good times.
Vacations are special, and souvenirs should be too. Take a trip down memory lane and relive your adventures by creating something together that you’re proud to share. Record your family history in new ways by commemorating your family’s journeys, and you can say that you’ve been there, done that … and didn’t buy the T-shirt.