Souvenirs for Kids

…that aren’t garbage.  Or toys.
When I was a kid, my dad traveled a few times a year for work.  He always brought back souvenirs for my sister and me, which was ridiculously exciting to my little hoarder self.  Postcards, t-shirts, stuffed animals, plastic travel mugs, tiny statue replicas… You name it, I had it.
I love what my dad was trying to do – generate a fun surprise for when he got home.  And it was wonderful!  
But the stuff.  
Oh my.
Going on a trip, and wanting to buy your children/grandchildren/nieces and nephews/nanny charges something? Great! Here’s some suggestions on how to do that without clogging up their room with stuff.
Washcloths or towels.  Especially those kind that come all compressed into a little brick and then revive when you wet them.  It’s super fun to make them grow, but then you have a very useful item left over.  Those washcloths are actually really soft and big!  Bonus: easy to fit in your suitcase!
These adorable washcloths are from Grandma and Grandpa’s trip to Hawaii.  I don’t know what “A Coconut Named Bob” is about, but it’s SO CUTE an SOFT.  Big L enjoyed wetting them and watching them “grow.”
A pen/pencil or eraser (for school aged children.). They can can use it at school and tell their friends about their cool relative who went cool places.  And it is consumable.  Rulers and folders are also good possibilities!
Candy/regional snacks.  Does your location have a particular packable food item that kids would like?  Saltwater taffy from the coast? Fudge from Michigan?  Maple sugar candies from Vermont or Canada?
1 T-shirt, 1 size too big.
Because they are already wearing their current size, so obviously mom and dad have dealt with their current wardrobe and they have enough clothes.  The shirt will get more wear if it is an intentional part of their next wardrobe.
A book.  Now, I am a softy for books – it is the one area of my home I have yet to purge.  That being said, a book about the cool place you went (at an appropriate reading level, of course) might be a perfect souvenir.
A useful item they can grow into.  For example, if your special child is almost ready for a water bottle, or a plate, or a baseball cap, or their own cocoa mug.  That way is not an extra of that item, but  it is the one the child uses daily because his/her parents know they already have one.
Any other great ideas for souvenirs for minimalist kids?  Leave them in a comment!  Happy travels.

Gifts and Souvenirs for Minimalist Moms

… or people about whom you say, “They’re hard to buy for!”
One word.  UPGRADE.
This has been my shopping philosophy for myself, anyway, since going all KonMari on my household.  Consider replacing something the recipient already has, but getting them a fancier/better quality item. This can be a little tricky if you don’t know them well (it could come off as judgy) so be careful that what you’re replacing is not an heirloom or favorite old battered item.
Examples?  Better oven mitts.  The kind that fit on either hand.
Fancy hand soap or hand cream
A high-quality spill-proof Thermos-like coffee cup
Longer charging cord for laptop, cell phone, etc.
A really lovely pan, or dutch oven
High quality knives
No, a keychain is not really useful.  It is clutter.  It might look cool, and the recipient might actually put it on his/her keys, but it is clutter non-the-less.
Examples?  Kitchenwares.  I have received and loved potholders from Hawaii, and a rolling pin from Disney World.
Clothing items, IF you know the recipient’s style well enough.  (Chances are if they’re a minimalist, they have a carefully cultivated wardrobe.  Perhaps loungewear pieces.)
Food items from that locale (fruit or coconut products from tropical vacations, sourdough from San Francisco, cherry preserves from Wisconsin, apple butter from Vermont…)
Three words: STUFF TO EAT
I love food gifts!  Trying to live simply also generally involves a budget (and you know we love a budget here on MCM!) so I don’t usually splurge on “fancy” food items.  Homemade foods are often wonderful, as well.
Examples I have actually received:
Home-canned pickles
Local honey
Artisan bread
A ham
Good quality wine or spirits
“Fancy” soda