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Holiday Novelty Gifts – Useless Tat or Hidden Treasure?

13 September 2012 No Comment

Most of us at some point in our lives have come across a novelty gift shop whilst on holiday or travelling. Some of us send these gifts to our friends or loved ones, whilst some keep these gifts for their own memorabilia. But is it just a waste of time and money, or is there more to it than that?

I must confess, I am one of these people who does purchase a lot of these so called gifts, and I have accumulated quite a collection over the years. I opened my cupboard recently whilst having a clear out, and I stopped to look at these items, one by one, and began to see something quite special.

A lot of people will know that most holiday destinations or tourists spots offer the same gifts. In fact, you could walk down one street in a holiday town and enter a handful of different stores all offering the same items, and all at the same price. We still walk into each and every shop, looking at these same items time and again, and usually end up buying something, either for a laugh or because you can’t really think of anything else somebody would like as a gift.

Most people who receive a gift like this will give that compulsory smile and say something about how great the gift is, and will probably put the item in a drawer or cupboard, never to be seen again. I’m sure a lot of us throw such gifts away after a time, not seeing any value in these items. It is true, they don’t hold any real monetary value, as they are mostly mass-produced and sold in multiple countries. To most people, they will never look past this, and will always see these as just novelty gifts, or as something to buy when there isn’t the option of returning home with no gift at all.

I can fully understand this, but I don’t share the same thoughts. In fact, I hold great value in such items. You may well be able to buy these same gifts in many different countries, but to me, if an item was bought in Slovakia, or New Zealand, then the item has come from that country in my eyes. The fact is, if somebody has bought an item in Canada, then the item has come from Canada. It symbolises a link between a person and a place. Indeed I have many items in my cupboard, all creating links to the countries in which they were purchased.

These items – however small and ill-made – hold many memories for me, and each one takes me back to the place momentarily, reminding me of the moment I bought the item, and the country in which I travelled. Each novelty gift I have bought for myself tells its own story, and to discard one of these items would be to sever a valuable link between me and my past travels. They may hold no use, but to me they make me smile, and they make me remember. This is far more valuable to me than I could ever explain.

I also have a policy of obtaining a fridge magnet from each place I visit, of which there is now a sizeable collection. Again, it is a reminder to me of where I have been and the memories I have made. It is all too easy to slip back into everyday life and to forget the most powerful of memories, but a little reminder here and there keeps a memory fresh, and puts a smile on my face.

It may be different for somebody who has received a novelty gift, having not been away themselves, but in my eyes, even a gift given to me creates a link between myself and a place. It is a little part of the country, whether I have seen it or not.

This article has probably done nothing to persuade you that novelty gifts are of any value, but I felt it worth mentioning as I look through old memorabilia. I am clearing out my cupboard, but I am certainly not clearing out any of my novelty gifts or items. This is my little treasure chest, full of memories I never want to forget.

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Written by Daniel Stevens,
Founder of Roundtheworldtrip.org.
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