Memories that bind

“Our minds tend to exaggerate the value of things related to remembrance.” ~ Juhli

The quote above is from a comment I received from one of our readers, Juhli, a while back and wow never a truer word has been written. Do you own lots of items that hold some sort of personal historical sentimental value to you? This is normal for most people so don’t think you are strange if you do, but that is the point. We collect these things because it is the norm of our society. Don’t get me wrong there is nothing wrong with preserving history but, if you are serious about decluttering, this is a practice best limited to items of significant value not every little souvenir collected on vacation, programs from every choir concert your children have ever been involved in or every item acquired at the passing of a loved one.

When on my recent vacation I took some time out one day to pamper myself with a wash, cut and straighten of my hair. The trainee hairdresser was very nice and we chatted about lots of things. After telling her I was on vacation in Texas from Australia she asked what I had bought in the way of souvenirs while there. She was almost mortified when I told I would be leaving with none. “Oh, but you have to have a souvenir to remind you of your time in Texas!” she insisted. “No I really don’t.”  was my reply and I went on to tell her about my blog and explain that is why I don’t buy souvenirs. I think she was still not convinced of my conviction but she liked the idea of my blog nevertheless.

This story just goes to show that buying and saving items to remind us of good times is not just the norm but if ones doesn’t conform to this behaviour you risk appearing strange to the “normal” people out there. My response to this is ~ once upon a time this wasn’t the norm. The norm used to be that only significant items were valued and handed down through the generations within a family. It is partly consumerism and merchandising that has suckered us into conforming to this new habit. And you are playing right into the manufacturers and retailers hands when you participate.

Also these days people own so much that when loved ones pass the generation next in line ends up with loads of items of little value except that they belonged to the now passed loved one. We then feel either obliged to keep these items or overly sentimental about them.  Once again, if you are serious about decluttering it is best to limit the number of these kinds of items. Keep the best and declutter the rest. It isn’t betrayal it is just sensible. The person who used to own them would likely wonder why, were they up there looking down on us.

Then there are those programs from the choir concerts of our children, their cute drawings and examples of school work etc. Sure keep the significant ones to share with the kids when they are older but don’t be keeping boxes and boxes of them. I am sure your children wouldn’t thank you for it. They will enjoy the ones with funny stories you can relate to them and perhaps a sample of their scholastic talents through the years but they don’t want to plough through pages and pages of this stuff. You don’t need to keep every certificate they ever received either unless it is significant or useful for their future.

So what I am saying is limit the accumulation of remembrance clutter because once we attach too much sentimental value to it, it become difficult to let go of. But don’t despair if you have already saved an overabundance because with a little conviction you can change your mindset on what is important and what isn’t.  Remember what I said yesterday about want v want and cull according to your ultimate declutter goal and don’t let over-sentimental feeling get it the way. Believe me the memories will endure without the clutter to back them up.

Today’s Mini Mission

Declutter an odd souvenir or novelty item that was acquired on the spur of the moment and is still cluttering up a shelf somewhere.

Today’s Declutter Item

Here is an example from the days when we used to buy pointless souvenirs while on vacation. This one was bought in Berlin and although it is supposed to be a genuine piece of he Berlin Wall I have grave doubts that it actually is. Either way we don’t really need it and I am sure there are plenty of examples of this significant moment in history preserved in museums all over the world and it is unlikely that we are going to forget having visited there.

"A piece of the Berlin Wall"

Something I Am Grateful For Today

Another beautiful sunny day, soaking up the rays while going for a walk and crossing of lots of things in my to do list.

“In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy.” Brother David Steindl-Rast

It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow


Continue reading with these posts:

  • Regrets, traditions and reality. I personally feel that anticipating regrets, especially attached to objects, is a waste of time. It's like clinging to old routines or traditions just because of their history, we put […]
  • Day 269 Back at the keyboard Yes I am back at last but suffering from a good dose of jet lag after 43 hours of travel, so don't expect too much from me today. I would like to take your memories back to Day 250 to a […]
  • Day 313 The trouble with collectables I love to browse the antique shops just for the nostalgia that it evokes. I often see things there that remind me of my grandmother or things that bring back fond memories from my […]
About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.

Comments

  1. Another good post. Here is something it has helped me settle in my head. I know that I have mentioned that I am a scrapbooker. I’m not sure if I have mentioned that I have cut back on my scrapbooking in a huge way. Where I used to make complete scrapbooks about an event or holiday I have realized I don’t need all of that and I am only scrapbooking those things that are different. I’m also not making a scrapbook about an event or holiday but a layout. Just one layout. Yes, there are some things and people I want to remember but I don’t need to have an entire scrapbook for remembering. Now I have all of these scraobooks that I made back before I had this awakening. At some point I plan to go through them and decide which to keep and which to take apart. Since many of them are make using decorated chip board covers and with rings to bind them I can mix and match them if need be. I think I will be doing a lot with this as time goes by.

    • Deb J- I am the same. I actually only scrapbook family photos and important events (honeymoon, maybe family reunions, etc. )–events get 4 pages, max. Everything else stays on my computer, because scrapbooks can get heavy and bulky.

    • Good for you Deb J. I think we can end up boring ourselves to death with our own history sometimes when we document every trivial detail. And if we get bored looking at it no one else in going to find it riveting that’s for sure. I think when it comes to scrapbooking we get suckered by all the lovely layouts and sentimental claptrap in the magazines and forget that the object of these magazines in to lure us into using and therefore buying more product.

  2. I looked around for souvenirs but realized…I don’t think I’ve ever bought any. Ever. I guess I find them tacky. If I do happen to buy something on a trip it is something I could buy somewhere else (clothes, accessories) but in a design/color I’ve never seen anywhere else. I’m still a sucker for novelty, though truly unique things are getting harder to find (thankfully).

    • Me too.
      I never bought souvenirs from a souvenir shop, but I did buy lots of clothes, mugs, plates, bowls, handbags etc. abroad.

    • Tacky that is the word I was looking for when writing this post. Thanks Faith you hit the nail right on the head.

  3. Grace from Brazil :

    This is really a great idea to think about. When people come to visit Brazil I spend a lot of time with people running around buying souvenirs. Several times we have had people not at all interested in taking back a thing, although I was shocked by it at first (since it is the norm) I was instantly relieved! No running around for me! Lovely. I also liked it because sometimes I get the feeling people love to come to a place to see what they can take back so that they can somehow brag about their trip and the good deals they got. (It smacks of a type of colonialism). It also shows a level of selfishness as one begins to focus on THINGS and not on the people they have come to be with. I find souvenirs difficult to declutter in that no else one really wants them, if they have no tie or interest in the country. I have several items that I would love to get rid of but not sure how.

    • Oh Grace, you’re so right!! And people who buy 10,000 souvenirs for all their friends – again, the friend has no attachment to the mini sphinx or effiel tower… but still people persist!

      • “My in-laws visited the Swiss Alps and all they bought me was this lousy t-shirt”?? No thank you!

    • Hi Grace from Brazil,
      I agree entirely with what you are saying here. I see those tacky souvenir shops when I go on vacation and wonder why anyone ever goes there. For the most part they are buying the souvenirs for someone else back home. Why would anyone want a souvenir of a place they haven’t been?

      As for getting rid of your souvenirs ~ consider donating them to a craft or art group. I had an artist looking for doll parts in the thrift shop where I work one day and I also know there is an artist in town who makes really interesting clocks for tiny toys etc. The souvenir I decluttered for today’s post went to the thrift store and was bought before I finished my shift that same day.

  4. “The norm used to be that only significant items were valued and handed down through the generations within a family.”

    How true! Things were handed down because they had intrinsic value, like silverware or valuable jewellery, which was helpful to the next generation. Somehow that reasoning has changed over the years to the point where insignificant items are kept as well.

    • Hi Jo H,
      the funny thing is that I wouldn’t even want the valuable items either. One of the first things I decluttered was the silver tea set my Parents gave me for my 21st birthday. I never used it and hated polishing it. So I suppose even the more sensible norms from day’s gone by are now redundant in the modern age.

      • Amen to that! I stand to inherit a 108 piece set of Limoges china, circa 1900. Just what I need as I reach 60 years of age. I’m thinking of taking up skeet shooting.

        • Hahahaha I love this!! Once again ‘split face syndrome’ LOL!!! Damned if I don’t want to grab a gun and come and help you!! I used to think that I would love to have a huge set of China from anyone in the family. Thank god I have all the brain cells intact over that one. I love my teacup & saucer I have from my Nanna, I love the Royal Albert China pcs I have from my Mum & Dad and I love all the pcs I have that were made in China, my everyday plates and dishes and cups, all made in China and used every meal, every day, every week, every month, every year that I have had them. I love them, when they break they will go in the bin, if I go before they break I’m bloody sure no-one wants them anyway. Don’t get me started on ‘Silverware’ honestly who really likes to drink out of or eat off ‘Silverware’ except maybe your flatware which makes eating a little easier!! I just hate dusting and polishing so therefore my house would be the worst place on earth to be the home of any ‘inherited china or silverware’. I’ve told my son he gets the ‘lot’ when I’m gone hahahaha!!!

        • You crack me up Wendy B. Either take up skeet shooting or just tell the benefactor that you just don’t want it. There must be some other sucker they can leave it to.

        • Love this. Skeet shooting sounds like a great idea. I’m ever so glad that when my father died Mom and I decided we didn’t need the 3 sets of china we had so we sold it all. Then we sold the set of stoneware I had. When we moved in together we got rid of any of the duplicates of anything we had. Talk about a BIG yard sale. I also made numerous trips to the dump with 100’s of maps and car brochures my father had been saving. I don’t plan to “inherit” anything.

    • Hi Jo H. My mum thinks I’m a bit of a Philistine because when she was discussing what I would like to put “dibs” on in their house…..all I wanted was her Tupperware beetroot drainer ’cause mine had just broken. Come to think of it, I don’t want it now.

      • Hahahaha my face has split again!!!! You know of all the flaming tupperware I have had I found this little piece to be the most useful !! For about 10mins!!! OMG what a pain in the **** that thing was, and to think I used to try and extole the virtues of the bloody thing. It was ‘useful’ (I think!!) after you managed to get it filled without splashing beetroot juice from a***hole to breakfast and then only if the beetroot fit in it, woe betide any housewife that bought a big can of beetroot cos it aint gonna fit sweetcheeks!! I say throw it all in a bowl or whatever and eat the stuff.

        Don’t do it Moni, no matter how much you love your mum. Step away from the tupperware NOW!!!

        • Hi Dizzy – I love your humour! I actually already have one now, found it at a garage sale for $2. But I use it for pineapple as the rest of my family hate beetroot.

          The only other piece of tupperware that I own is one of those cake ring thingees which you squash in sponge, whipped cream and black doris plums. Its my “Even I Can Manage This” go-to recipe for dessert! Mum got one back in the 80’s, I got mine a few years ago when a friend went overseas.

          Apart from that, I run a mile from Tupperware parties. 🙂

    • I like the description “helpful for the next generation”, as many of my “heirlooms” fit into this category, although they aren’t particularly valuable moneywise. But they’re useful and I don’t have any other of their kind – e.g. lots of kitchen utensils: boyfriend’s ancient coffee grinder, my enamel bowl, lots of the kitchen ceramics we got from our grannies, the cutting boards are hand-made by my boyfriend’s grandpa, my best dress which I got when I was 17 and am still wearing to each and every “occassion” like a wedding, was made by my granny, my (lovely) wardrobe and the wooden chest are reminders of my Mum, my Dad gave me his tiny old sofa (which I’ve always liked!), etc. These possessions are really helpful to us, they make a great deal of what we use every day – still I don’t feel the need to keep them once they break or become useless otherwise. They have served their purpose – some of them for more than 90 years.

      • Oh yes, I think, heirlooms are most valuable when received at a relatively young age, so that they fill a gap rather than become clutter – and, more importantly, when they’re chosen by the recipients themselves.

      • How lovely Sanna. One of my grandmothers died when I was just 16 and my mum put some items aside for me in my glory box for when I left home. It was a great help not having to buy those things when there was so much else to supply for our first house when I married. I used a lot of it for a long time but now most of it has gone and that is OK too. I still have her flour sieve though.

  5. My husband received a piece of “souvenir clutter” when my sister returned home from a trip to Florida recently.

    It was a tiny ziploc baggie with some sand and a miniature sea shell in it. The baggie was labeled, “Beach Front Property”.

    • All I can say to that Becky is ~ Oh Dear!!!

    • I think I actually like that idea, easy to chuck out if you don’t want it and it can all return to the earth so to speak. If it gets kept in a little bottle, in sight, I think it would be a cute reminder to save your pennies and go buy that ‘Beach Front Property’ OR a cute reminder to tell your sister thanks but “NO THANKS”!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

  6. There’s nothing new about containers of sand as souvenirs, Becky. I recommend a book by Tony Perrottet called “Route 66 AD” which describes the advent of tourism back in the time of the Romans. And yes, you could get glass vials of souvenir sand to take home to your loved ones. It’s a great read and very funny. Makes you realise that 2,000 years or so makes no difference in human character 🙂

    I’ve often been frustrated in my attempts to buy a souvenir of a particular place as I DON’T want something with the name of the resort/ city/ country all over it. I have a bowl which I happen to know comes from a craft pottery in Greece, which I love and use several times a day. I’ve also brought some unusual things back; my bicycle’s steel mesh basket and my wooden spoons are “souvenirs.” One time I did succumb to souvenir fever, I bought a fridge magnet with the name of the resort and the national flower in modelling clay. I must have been having a momentary bout of insanity. And then I broke it and was happy.

    On my last trip I came back with a 2 pound jar of honey, bought straight from the producer in an unlabelled jar. Consumable and no packaging waste to dispose of as my Freecycle network is always happy to take jars. I got something tasty to eat and the bee-keeper got the money straight into her pocket.

    I’m about to turn my travel journal from a big trip to NZ into a compact form via Word and shred the original scribbled notebook. It’s a memento of my life for me to re-savour but I certainly wouldn’t expect anyone else to keep it after I’m gone.

    • Hi GreyQueen,
      you have a much better idea of what is a good souvenir I must say. I do have a few better quality items like that myself like our beautiful hand crafted etching from Florence, but even those I am doing my best to avoid in the future. As lovely as they are we just don’t need them. We are art lovers though and have some lovely pieces in our home but they are those items that are bought and appreciated for their beauty.

  7. Is anyone else in “extreme decluttering mode” these days?
    I’d love to get rid of almost everything here in the apartment.

    • I would like to think I am in extreme decluttering mode at least I should be by now considering that after almost two and a half years one would think that all I had left was the good stuff. Unfortunately though I still keep coming up with a lot of crap at times. Where does it all keep coming from.

      • I still have enough crap around as well. I think, I should use this ruthlessness of the moment to get rid of a bunch of difficult clutter (papers, …)

        Oh well, I can’t declutter as fast as I’d like, too. My boyfriend won’t let me… 😉
        But no big deal, he is on board generally, just a little slower. There’s enough time to wait until both of us are ready to let go of certain items. On the other hand, this often makes me declutter my own stuff more radically. Like for example I don’t like two cups which were given to us a few years ago, but he likes them – and likes to think of the giver when using them – so we keep them, but I get rid of other cups instead which have been presents to me personally, although I like them better than the joined ones – just not enough to keep them when there are more than enough cups around.

        • Hi Sanna – I had some items like those that hubby wouldn’t get rid of that were just plain ugly. Oopsie Daisy! They had an accident! 🙂

        • Yes, use the force (ruthlessness that is) and get rid of those papers while you are up for it.

          “…just not enough to keep them…” that is the clue. Let your desire for further decluttering make the choices for you.

        • Ideealistin :

          Oh how I can relate, Sanna! Though we are still in the mode of adjusting to our life together over here, when decluttering it is mostly my stuff that has to go 🙁 But he sure loves the space that gets freed up or that the cupboards are better accessible so I still have hope. He likes minimal – but it doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have stuff (some of it clutter really) or isn’t attached to it. Given that the apartment now seems much smaller I’d absolutely love to go into overdrive and clear some corners that have become dumping grounds for “homeless” stuff. But it really is a mixture of renovation tasks, housekeeping, organizing and decluttering – and oh so little time …

          • It got a lot better, Ideealistin. He moved so much crap in the first place… oh my. He already decluttered a LOT since we moved together. AND he’s still owning less than I own, so I think, it’s okay.
            I think, it’s normal though, that other people’s clutter bothers you more than your own, as you don’t have that attachment to it. I guess, true love is to love one’s spouse with his clutter. 😉

            After all, it’s “we’re living together” and not “he’s a guest in my home”, so it’s good that he has a say in what stuff to keep as well.

      • My garage 🙂

        • Ahhh Dizzy, your garage makes Disneyland seem uninteresting.

          • Okay my ‘What The’ this time is a brake cable, bike went last year some time so why the cable??? One bike seat, no idea, 3 more golf balls, 2 broken sticks (supports for rose bushes) 1 rakeless rake (plastic tines all missing bar 4) WHAT THE oh and 1 red breasted robin (stuffed type for the Christmas tree) that must of gotten dropped during the last Chrissy pack-up. All What Thes officially in the bin or out the door! Yay Me!! 🙂

    • Sanna, I am in an “Extreme decluttering mode” and it is driving me crazy because I can’t declutter what I want to get rid of. Some days waiting on my mother to “catch up” drives me over the edge. I’d like to even get rid of the house. Deep breaths. Deep breaths. SIGH!!

      • Deb J

        I know what would help whilst waiting for mum to catch up, get yourself a can of beetroot…. and a tupperware beetroot strainer thingy….. and try to get it all in ‘neatly without spillage’ heehee 🙂 🙂 🙂

        Just breathe, it won’t happen overnight – but it will happen 🙂

        • Hi again – not really in a hurry for mum to kick the bucket just so I can get the beetroot strainer thingy, unfortunately a rather large house full would also come with it………

          Still it was priceless seeing her face, as she was offering me her silverware and crystalware and I’m saying “No-no-no-no-no-no-no”

        • Love this Dizzy. I’m handling this waiting period by helping my friend, by just digging more into my scrapbook stuff, and by hinting, hinting, hinting. Grin.

    • Hi Sanna – yes I’m in extreme decluttering mode at the moment. The kids get a bit worried that they will end up on ebay! 🙂 I go thru stages where I’m happy to do one thing a day, and then I go into overdrive and stuff goes flying out!

      • Hi Moni,

        You go girl, I’m about to declare war on my ‘SCRAPBOOKING ROOM’ stay tuned for photos if Colleen will let me 🙂 🙂 🙂 I think the cupboard I have my eye on will make most people Scream!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

        • Hi Dizzy – re: upstairs storage room at work that hubby has asked me to sort out: I put 3 more things on freecycle today just before lunch, and by time I came back to my desk I had the requests sitting in my Inbox, all gone by 5pm.

          I’m just going to pick off a few items each day until it is time to roll up my sleeves and dig in. It is such a mish-mash up there, old furniture and a washing machine my son has dibs on for when he leaves home, old work equipment, sports gear, tax records, costume racks, sewing machines stored until concert season, computer parts etc etc. Oh and hubby’s science experiment from two years ago that is spread everywhere. And most of it is dumped in the middle. Oh and an oasis in the middle……4 tutu carrier bags.

          So I have to climb over things and clamber around things, collect the item I am free-cycling and then make my way back out with it. Wish I’d taken a before photo for you.

          Hubby is away until Sunday, so I figure it is a GREAT time to be freecycling stuff!

          • Nice to hear that more people are in decluttering mode here. 😉

            As I rented a shelf in the nearby flee/flea-market-store for four weeks, I’ll try to sell as much as possible there. I think I’ll ask my boyfriend, whether we can put those unloved cups there as well – maybe the idea of SELLING them instead of just giving them away makes him more ruthless as well. 😉

    • Sanna, I think I reached a plateau after last weeks activity of bathroom, wardrobe and drawer rearrangements. I cant think of anything to declutter, and even worse: I am bringing more things in right now (bikelights, or sports equipment) than there is stuff leaving. I even picked up more scribbling paper (I use it for printing) from a friend of mine, who just finished uni and had a lot of paper left for me to use for my thesis. I collect so much material for this research, its mind blowing.
      I am looking forward to end of june, when I will hand it in and trash all those things that I wont need for the future. I will be destroying paper, selling books, rearranging my folders and hopefully also let go of those subjects (and materials) that I always wanted to study but never did (art history, you secret love of my life) Very much looking forward to do that… And maybe then I will get my projects done (you know those that require 4 hands and all sorts of tools that I dont own). Until then, I will wait impatiently for potential declutter items to show up…

      • Lena, there are certainly more important things than decluttering. 🙂

        I think, I’m gonna check out in the store whether I sold something, as I have some more things to put on the shelves there, when there’s room for them. Haha, they’ll think, I’m crazy, stopping by every day.

        I also searched for a homeless shelter around and found an adress, maybe, I’ll go there this weekend and drop some body lotion… 😉

        • so you found a second hand shop where you can bring items and sell them there? amazing. I never found one here around… I did a little reserach on homeless shelter and the “bahnhofsmission” and I even found a women shelter, but they all didnt want single lotions or shampoos. They only accept money and donations that are coming in huge quantities…

          • Maybe, I’ll write them an email in advance. The homepage looked like they would take small donations (even flower bunches – what a nice idea!) as well.

            We have a second hand store here where you rent out shelves, and they sell your stuff for you. I’m not yet sure whether I will make a plus, but I gave it a try.

          • I just checked it out. Seems like I just had to google the right word and I found one right in the city center. But the prices are really high, I think and they want to have money for clothes extra. I will go there next time I am in the center and check it out and ask. and then maybe I will consider that again. I mean in the end I can sell it all over there and empty my drawer for good 😉

            thanks for the idea!

  8. I think part of (my) the issue with school certificates is that they create a set – ie every maths competition, or every year’s certificate of appreciation. When I was decluttering these, I liked that uniformity. And I couldn’t keep one – it was keep all or keep none. Needless to say, I quickly became ruthless! Who cares that I did a kiddy triathlon? I don’t even remember it, but I did get a certificate!!

    And I do agree with the no souvenirs thing! That being said, I have in the past made (whilst travelling) scrapbooks, and therefore buy postcards that I stick in, along with placements, tickets and other stuff. I’ve stopped being ‘bothered’ to do this, especially since I now go back to the same cities a bit. A boyfriend bought be souvenirs a few years ago, missing that I said ‘TAKE PHOTOS OF the tackiest/kitchest souvenirs you can find’. One became a fishtank ornament for a while, but all three items have been donated since then! I do like to buy art, or clothing when I travel though… that’s enough of a memory.

    • “Who cares that I did a kiddy triathlon? I don’t even remember it, but I did get a certificate!!”

      That statement pretty much says it all Snosie.

      • Hi Colleen – don’t stone me at the city gates but I do have ALL the certificates and reports and blah-blah for my kids! BUT it is filed nicely in flip files for each child. It started because both sets of grandparents live far away and when they visited it was a chance for them to be brought up to date with the kids lives and to give them something to talk about. All their reports and class photos are in there too. Its nicely contained and takes up very little room.

  9. I object! Of course you left Texas with a souvenier. Besides memories of time with my family, you had 3 lovely photos of the two of us. By our usual count, THREE photos is TWO TOO many!

    • Agh! Exactly – scrapbooking would say you need a few, to fill the page. But really, keeping the best is probably easier. Esp with digital stuff, it’s just less to ‘search’ through when you do in fact what that photo/email etc

    • Oh yes that is for sure. Don’t you worry I was happily reminiscing while I was writing this post. Memories are the best souvenirs and I sure took home lots of great ones of those. Thank you my friend.

  10. Why, oh why did I waste so much of my vacation time in those ridiculous souvenir shops? Oh, yeah. I was collecting trinkets to use as proof that I had actually gone there! Why? For whom? I have absolutely no idea. Now I look back and cringe.

    The t-shirts are long gone, but I can’t seem to part with my collection of refrigerator magnets from around the world. A few are tacky, but the majority are actually nice looking. They’ve been stored away for years now, but maybe I’ll take them out and see if I like having them around. They were always good conversation starters (“Hey! I’ve been there too!”)

    Since becoming an “aspiring minimalist,” travel is even more fun since the pressure to buy things is just about nonexistent. No time is wasted in shops. No extra stuff is hauled around and onto the plane. On our recent family vacation to California, we bought not a single item at Sea World or the San Diego Zoo. No complaints from the kids, however. They were too busy collecting experiences. 🙂

    • Hi Melissa,

      If you are tempted to pull out all your magnets and put them on the fridge, check out ‘Fridge Magnets’ on Uglyhouses.com. Hahaha Stopped me in my tracks! Then again if you love them go for it!! But if you have them packed away……. you obviously didn’t need them to start a conversation 🙂 🙂 🙂

      • Grace from Brazil :

        I was looking for something quick to declutter today and your comment helped me. I have only a few refrigerator magnets that I use on the side of the fridge. I was inspired to go look and see what it looked like. One (from St. Augustine, FL )was sun bleached so that was a no brainer! The other one is still in good conidtion (from the Alamo) and securing a lovely picture of friends in South Africa so it will stay.

    • Don’t look back and cringe Melissa, just be glad that you have seen the light.

      You are so right travelling is way more fun when shopping isn’t involved.

  11. I try and buy something I need as a souvenir. The great socks you wear once a week are a lovely way to remember the visit and the neat place you found them.
    My best one is the pashminaish scarf I bought on honeymoon in Turkey seven years ago and wear more days than not for 6 months of the year.

    • Hi Leigh,
      welcome to 365 Less Things and thank you for adding your comment to the mix. That is a smart way of having the best of both worlds ~ a useful souvenir ~ it is almost an oxymoron unless you get it right like you did. Well done.

  12. I was visiting a friend in Sweden last year (lucky me!) and found it so hard to explain to her and her parents that no, I didn’t want to take home any souvenirs, and PLEASE don’t buy the kids or me anything. We had to compromise in the end, and managed to come home with only a few items of clothing (which has all been worn to death, and the kids have almost grown out of). I must admit I did buy some ‘souvenir’s for the kids, but they were things like a set of dominoes with the Barbapapa character on them, some stationery and a Moomin toy and game (we love the Moomins!) I used to be the type to collect postcards, and keychains, and various other tat from all over the world. What a waste of time!!

    • Hi Loretta,
      when in the US last month I brought back some clinique products for my daughter. She has finally moved out of her grandmas and is broke but happier than she has been in a long time. (The new boyfriend might have something to do with that.) So she can’t afford to spend like she used to so I have spent $53.00 to save her $150 on something that she uses everyday. She has sensitive skin and these products work for her.

      • That’s a bargain Colleen. I wished that I was into expensive products when I was overseas as they were SO much cheaper than here, especially stuff like R.E.N. (I only know this because my girlfriends love that stuff). I’m sticking with my olive, almond and jojoba oils as my skin products, but my 86 year old auntie STILL only buys Clinique 🙂

  13. On my first overseas trip, I’ll admit I did buy some souvenirs (Eiffel Tower anyone??) but I also bought a small set of salad servers from a fabulous shop in Paris, which I use often and which brings back happy memories when I do use them. On my 2nd overseas trip, I was determined I would not a) waste my time scouring souvenir shops for more crap or b) waste my money on stuff that in years to come I would say to myself ‘ what was I thinking’? I’m very happy to say that I was successful on this last trip. The best thing I bought was a sleeveless fleecy vest in Fairbanks Alaska, and every time I wear it I have extremely happy memories of a fantastic trip, but I also am warm because it’s so fleecy and cosy. Success!

    • Just remembered that I have bought some Christmas decorations when on holiday but only a few and they go on my very minimalist Christmas tree 🙂

    • Hi Judy,
      live and learn as the say. If only these lessons came easier when we were much younger. It is funny actually that the more money I have (as I get older) to smarter I get with it.

      I sold a fleecy vest to a customer at the thrift shop today. She owned one already and thought it was great. I said I had one too and it is good in those in-between weather days and great for layering when it is even colder. She said she her husband couldn’t see the point in them. Her response was that he would think otherwise is he got hot flashes.

      • My favorite souvenirs from the past year are the rose bushes that the girls and I bought from a famous rose nursery taht we stopped at on vacation. We spent at least an hour looking at all their fabulous roses and each chose one. Since I have a large garden, having a place to put the roses was not a worry. In fact my youngest has her own rose garden; this purchase was her third bush.

        • I have seen Cindy’s rose garden and her daughter really does enjoy it. Cindy, I like the visit we made to the ice-cream factory in the way to Austin. The souvenir was free and tasted delicious

  14. Hey 365’ers – I learnt a trick to circumvent bringing home souvenirs especially when it is friends or family in that country trying to gift you with them – tell them you want to bring home some of the local chocolate! Every country has some sort of specialty chocolate. Or alternatively a special bottle of wine.

  15. In my backpacking days I bought a tiny item typical of each country. For many years I used them to decorate my Christmas tree – a nice reminder of my travels but packed away most of the year. I love all the rest of my souvenirs – sandals from Spain, my Greek rug, plates from Mexico. The only thing I have that would be souvenir-shop stuff is a canvas bag which says “Australian Northern Territory” on it (our trip in ’88). I use it all the time. Our favorite souvenir – recipes of the wonderful foods we discover on our travels.

    • Hi Wendy B – to put together a recipe book from travels is a lovely idea.

    • I used to live in the Northern Territory Wendy, they were great times. I’m not sure I could stand the humidity now.
      Talking about bringing home recipes, certain foods remind of vacation whenever I eat them, like rocket reminds me of the Cinque Terre in Italy, potato pizza reminds me of Rome, muscles and good bear remind me of Belgium and garlic fries remind me of Safeco Field in Seattle. I could go on and on ~ ahhh the memories.

  16. Uh-oh. This is one of my weak points. I’ve always been keeping memories since when I was a child! And it’s a type of item I have not started to tackle yet, since I still have WAY too many other stuff easier to declutter first.

    At my parents place I still have all the sweet letters I exchanged with my best girl friends during high school, and my teenager years journals. I have a lot of old toys and books I loved as a child. And so on. I hope that, when the time comes and I move to our bigger house next year and I can finally bring to Rome all my things that are still at my parents, I’ll be expert enough on decluttering and will be able to say goodbye to most of this stuff.

    In my present apartment I have all my old yearly planners since 1998: I used (ops… still use) them to briefly write down every day what I did and if I go to some event (movie, exhibition, concert etc) I stick the ticket on that day page. When travelling, I keep all the entrance tickets and the transport tickets (main ones) and stick them there too when I’m back. Then sometimes when I wish to remember what exactly I saw in that trip or how much it costed (most often when I write on a travel related forum that I use a lot, giving and receiving advice) I have a look at the relevant planner. I don’t know if I will ever be able to declutter all those…

    As for travel souvenirs, I’m completely guilty!! I travel a lot (it’s my big passion in life) and I used to buy so many things! I bought t-shirts, usually too big or too small so I have never used them. I bought postcards: to send others, to keep (I collect them) and even to send myself from some “strange” place as a proof that I have actually been there!! OMG! Most of all, I bought all those useless items to put on a shelf and get dusty… these are the easiest to get rid of.
    At a certain point I realized I didn’t like the mess that my shelves had become and I stopped buying them. I started looking for “decorative items” for my then-new apartment such as a rug, a little picture to hang on the wall, a lamp… Then the apartment too became decorated enough and I started buying the magnets. I have not so many, maybe 30, (that’s “not many” only if you consider that I travel 4-5 times a year! 😛 ) and they are displayed all over my microwave, the only metallic surface in my kitchen since the fridge is enclosed in a cabinet. We bought 2 in the most recent trip (end of April, 10 days in Albania and Macedonia)!! My husband likes them… But the space is now finished on the microwave too!! ARGH. I hope in the new house we will find a place to put all of them that is not too visible 😛
    Apart from magnets now I don’t buy anything anymore. Only local food if we happen to find something we really like, it’s a great way to continue the trip even when we are back home! Oh well, I also keep one of each type of local coins and one banknote for every country I go. Crazy enough? LOL

    Still I like to have something around that reminds me of my trips, for example we have a big poster on the dining-living room wall with the Europe map and our trips drawn on it with a marker, and a world map in our bedroom with pins on our visited places. Probably it’s a show-off thing, but I really like to be able to show people our itineraries and it shows my passion for travels. I have a whole bookshelf dedicated to guidebooks (old ones too, I go through them every now and then), geography and travel related books, coffeetable books with photos of places and landscapes etc… Most of those I will never ever declutter (well, never say never but for the moment it’s a NO WAY).
    So all this will be a big big big issue when I finally get to declutter travel-related stuff.
    Luckily I don’t have any heirloom at all!! 😛

    • Wow I wrote fairly too much! But at least seeing it all written down, I realized I just WANT to get rid of a lot of these things… Sometimes you just need to write all down “on paper” and look at it objectively. Thank you for giving me this opportunity with this post!!! 🙂

  17. Thanks for using my comment as a start for this post. I just returned from visiting my elderly mother and once again looked at all of the old books, collectables, etc. and groaned inwardly. She is chipping away at it since she doesn’t want us to have to deal with too much but still it is a lot of unused things sitting around.

  18. This post helped me let go of something I’ve been holding onto forever…a patchwork quilt, made for tourists, that I bought on the Great Wall of China. I’m embarrassed to admit that my study-abroad experience back in 1993 was at times like one long shopping trip. Most of those souvenirs are now long gone but the quilt I have held onto because it was also on the wall of my first son’s nursery (layer on layer of sentimental clutter…). It has been years since it was displayed and I think that a photo of the object (digital of course) would be just as nice. It’s a good reminder of travelling light and gathering experiences not things!

  19. Today I have given away the breadmaker that someone de-junked to me 6 months ago and which I never used as I like to knead bread by hand. Oh joy! The recipient (a busy Mum) was thrilled and I’m so pleased that I don’t have it reproaching me………

    You can use photos as “proof” that you were on holiday at a certain place; there’s one of me on the northernmost tip of NZ (Cape Reinga) in front of the signpost to all the cities around the world. Mind you, I could have faked that up with PhotoShop, I suppose. 🙂 And chocolate is a great souvenir – my colleagues at the office were very interested in the kiwi-fruit flavoured stuff from Christchurch a few years ago. I liked shopping for the souvenirs in the supermarket.

    One thing I have been known to buy is a CD of local music, straight from a local musician. If I like it, I figure it’s helping someone get a living doing what they love and I’m good with that. Just off to listen to some Bulgarian folksinging. Haven’t a clue what it’s all about but it sounds delightful.

    • Hi Grey Queen – I have a photo up at Cape Reinga too. One day I’d like to get the equivalent one down in Steward Island.

      • hey Moni, I did this with the ‘Perths’ of the world. Funny thing is except for the fact that I know they are in different places, the pics kinda look the same. Perth in Tasmania was just as desolate near the marker as the Perth sign in WA. Slightly different colours but both desolate. Could of saved myself a fortune and photo-shopped the trip hahaha 🙂 🙂 🙂

        • Hi Dizzy – in the age of Photo Shop we don’t actually have to go to places, we can just photo-shop ourselves in! 🙂 🙂 🙂

      • I think this is the place Billy Connolly went to when he did his World Tour in 2010. He said the sea was brisk and rolling and reminded him of the North Sea 🙂 🙂 🙂 It looks like a beautiful place though 🙂

  20. My husband and I are considering a cross-country move in a couple of years, so I have decided that every non-consumable item that enters my home from now on must pass the test of: Do I want to move this all the way across the country? Whether or not we actually move, I think it will be a good way to cut back on things entering the home. As far as souvenirs go, for the last few years I have collected hat pins from our destinations, and they are pinned to a hat that hangs on the footboard of my bed. It makes me happy and I figure some day it will be easy enough for my nephew to get rid of if he isn’t interested.

    My biggest personal revelation in regards to items that belong to older family members is: go through whatever they have given you BEFORE they pass away. It is so much harder to get rid of these items after they are gone, because of the increased emotion attached to every little thing that was theirs.

    • Hi Mrs. GV and welcome to 365 Less Things. I like your idea of the non-consumable test, that is how it works in my house too. I also think what you say about getting rid of things older family members have given you before they die is very sound advice. Sometimes it can be many years before the sadness has subsided enough to be able to get rid of those sorts of things after the event. Good luck with your decluttering, avoiding clutter and your move if it eventuates.