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From Dusty to Dashing

How to keep souvenirs from becoming yet another dust collection

We take two kinds of vacations in the D’Annolfo household. The first is the lazy vacation. You know the kind. Lying on the beach or around the pool for hours on end. Drinking rum some things brought to you by smiling pool attendants. Maybe be stirring yourself to play a little pool volleyball or go for a walk as the waves lap gently at your feet.

Cancun, Mexico

We love those vacations. We come back feeling relaxed and looking a little less like the Ohio winter has been permanently attached into our faces.

Packing for this type of vacation is easy, too. A few bathing suits, a couple of dressier outfits for dinner, and some workout gear and we are good to go.

We generally don’t buy souvenirs when we go on trips to Mexico or Jamaica or some other tropical oasis. We might come back with a couple of bottles of rum, but those are easily stored and require no thought.

On a side note, if you do purchase alcohol on vacation, make sure it is wrapped and taped properly for customs. We almost lost a beautiful bottle of Appleton rum on our Jamaica vacation because the clerk at the duty-free shop did not tape it up correctly. Customs was not going to let us bring it on the plane and, at the last minute, I stuck it into my carry-on and checked it.

It would have been a tragic loss.

The other type of vacation we take is our adventure vacation. If you read our post on Acadia National Park, you get the idea. I tend to take a ton of pictures on these vacations. Generally because I can’t believe we are doing some of the things we are doing! But I am also awestruck by Nature’s beauty.

Grand Tetons, Wyoming

I don’t know about you, but I feel infinitely small when faced with the magnificence of the Rockies or the Grand Tetons.

So I take pictures, and create Facebook albums, and maybe get myself together enough to create a photo album on Shutterfly.

Generally, though, we try to find some small souvenir to remind us of the crazy fun we had and the places we’ve been.

But what do you do with them all? I mean, do you really want to cover your refrigerator with magnets? And, I LOVE coffee, but there is only so much room in the cupboard for those.

T-shirts are great, but those suckers are expen-sive, and I’d rather spend $50 on doing something, not on t-shirts Jeff and I will wear a couple of times and stuff in a drawer with all of the other t-shirts we never wear.

Our solution? Ornaments.

We have a family tradition where, each year, each of us receives a Christmas tree ornament that represents something significant that happened that year. The year our son, Zach, got his driver’s license, his ornament was of a cool dude holding car keys.

Kassidy, our daughter, debated between Michigan and Ohio State her senior year (you can imagine the dismay in our household). That year, her ornament consisted of two candy canes – one Michigan blue and gold, the other Ohio State scarlet and grey. They were crossed in the middle. She is such a Buckeye now that the ornament is the only blue and gold in the house – thank goodness!

After years of quirky ornaments representing milestones in our lives – a ‘gator because we lived in Florida, a lobster for our trip to the Outer Banks – our tree became filled beyond capacity. Our house is not big enough for an 8-foot tree!

What to do?

Image Courtesy of SheLikesLetters

Last year, we came up with a solution. All ornaments from our hiking adventures had to be made of wood. We found an amazing little shop on Etsy. SheLikesLetters hand makes rustic decor – including ornaments!

We have ordered ornaments from each national park we have visited. And they are perfect. But there are a LOT of them! So the dilemma continued.

Enter Ikea. If you’ve never checked out this Swedish company, you’re missing out. Known for its ready-to-assemble furniture, Ikea has become synonymous with the Millennial generation. It is also the world’s largest furniture retailer.

So, when I had a chance to stop at their Columbus, Ohio location on a trip to visit Kassidy, I took a shot that they might have a solution. And they did.

There was a display in the kitchen organization section that looked very much like this one. It’s a system called Fintorp, and there are literally dozens of uses for it. Check out Pinterest and you’ll see what I mean.

There were hooks holding the buckets to the rail, and I knew I had a winner. I bought two rails for $10 each, and two 5-packs of hooks at $4 each, and we were in business for a grand total of $28.

It took about 30 minutes to mount both racks, and Jeff did have to dig out screws because neither of the two sets came with the screws to attach them to the wall. But it wasn’t hard to do.

Learner’s Tip: You need to slide one end of the rail into the mount, then slide the hooks on the rail before slipping the second end into place.

In the end, this is how it came out.

We decided to organize them by year, with the oldest on the bottom. Yes, there is a random glass ornament on the top rail, but that was from this summer and I needed a place to stash it unatil Christmas!

You can also see that our earlier ornaments were bigger. This is because I had no real picture in my head of the difference between 3 1/2″ ornaments and 2 1/2″ ornaments. We now order the smaller ones, but I think it looks quirky and it’s ours so I don’t really care if they aren’t perfectly matched.

You do what works for you!

Now, our ornament collection is there for everyone to see year round, it is not taking up space on a shelf, and we get to laugh and reminisce about those trips every time someone sees them for the first time.

And isn’t that what souvenirs are supposed to do?

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