How to collect souvenirs you’ll actually enjoy for years to come

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When done right, souvenirs can be a tasteful reminder of the best family vacation ever.

But when done wrong, souvenirs can be tacky, cheap and can add clutter to your home (as if you need more stuff!).

How do you make sure you don’t cross that line? How can you bring home souvenirs that you’ll cherish and even use for years to come? We wanted to find out.

1. Buy With A Place In Mind

Before you fork over some cash for a plastic hula girl from Hawaii, ask yourself where you’ll keep her. If the answer is “I don’t know,” you should probably keep walking.

If you see a gorgeous turquoise bracelet in New Mexico, you know where that goes—on your wrist. And if you can see yourself wearing it, then it’s got a place.

2. Think Long-Term

As we get older, many of us are inclined to downsize and reduce the amount of clutter we have in our homes. Think long-term before buying a souvenir—try asking yourself how you’ll feel about the item in five years. If you feel like it could end up on a future garage sale, skip it.

3. Go For Unique

Souvenirs can be a dime a dozen. That’s why it’s important to seek out unique items that are truly representative of your trip (like an inside joke) or the place you visited. Sure, it’s impossible to always buy something totally unique, but keep this philosophy in the back of your mind as you’re window shopping.

4. Less Is More When It Comes To Gifts

Think about all the souvenirs you’ve received from friends and family members. How many did you actually keep? Your friends and loved ones are in the same boat you’re in—they don’t want to add even more clutter to their homes. Keep it small when it comes to souvenir gifts. Better yet, bring them something to eat or drink from the place you visited (think local spirits or locally roasted coffee).

5. When In Doubt, Take A Photo

Wall space is cheap and pictures will always remind you of the reason you went on vacation—to spend time with your family or to experience something new. If you don’t see a souvenir that immediately stands out to you, don’t worry. Just snap a few more photos on your phone or camera, then make sure to print them out and frame them when you get home.

There are a handful of apps, such as FreePrints and Shutterfly, that let you print photos and have them shipped to your door. Plus, many drugstores like Walgreens let you upload your photos using a mobile app, then pick them up in store when you’re grabbing other essentials. Amazon also offers photo prints and free photo storage for Prime members.

6. Does It Fit A Theme?

If your bathroom is already decorated in a beachy motif, then collecting a few seashells from the beach makes sense. So does buying a brontosaurus figurine for your son who’s obsessed with dinosaurs (and has the room decor to prove it).

Beyond whether or not you have a place for it, thinking about whether a souvenir fits an existing theme in your home can help you make a tough decision.

7. Let The Perfect Souvenir Find You

Stop wasting your precious vacation time hunting for the perfect souvenir (unless that is your idea of a vacation). If you’re doing something fun and a souvenir catches your eye,  it was meant to be. If not, don’t sweat it.