It’s great to collect souvenirs from your travels. Most of us have photographs and video clips on our phones, but there is something really special about having your own unique items that you have collected on your travels! In fact, it wasn’t until I started writing this post, that I realised just how many travel souvenirs I have scattered around my house!
From watching my toddler play with the singing bowl that my husband picked up several years ago in Nepal, to the comments I receive from other parents when she is wearing her Table Mountain T-shirt whilst playing on the swings, these little reminders of our travels always make me smile 🙂
So I thought it would be interesting to see what other avid world travellers collect on their adventures too! In this post I bring to you 25 travel souvenirs collection ideas from different travel bloggers and influencers.
Travel souvenir collection ideas
#1 Starbucks Mugs
I will start the list of travel souvenir collection ideas with my Starbucks mug collection.
I started collecting these mugs during my Cabin Crew career and have continued to do so ever since. You can only buy them in country, which is why they are so special.
On some occasions I have gone out searching for a Starbucks mug, making it my mission to add one more addition to my price ious collection which holds pride of place on these shelves on my kitchen wall. Not everywhere has one though (I have learnt that Italy does not allow any Starbucks to open in fear of the mega chain superseding many of the country’s independents).
If the mugs were sold out on your travels you can sometimes buy them on Amazon or on Ebay, although if they are difficult to find they can be quite expensive!
You can collect country names or cities. I have made myself a rule not to have multiple cities in one country (USA is an exception) and to only get a mug when I have travelled to a place myself. Sometimes friends and family have offered to get a mug for me on their travels, but unless I have personally been to the place that they are visiting, I always say no.
Sadly, my collection hasn’t grown much in recent years. This is because, in many destinations, the Starbucks mugs on sale are a completely different design! Perhaps I should give in and just start buying the new design, but I fear it just wouldn’t go with the rest of my collection!
I love my mugs. Nobody is allowed to actually drink from them, oh no- they are display only! My husband thinks I am crazy. My friends think they are cool. Ironically, I don’t even drink coffee…
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As I became an adult and started to take many more trips, I started to feel little need for bulky souvenirs that would only take up room in my suitcase and in my home. Still, the thought of having a little something to remind me of my travels was very much an interest of mine.
As a child, my father had a cup on his desk that was filled with flat pennies from different places he had been to before he became a family man. I always looked at these pennies in wonder, since, to my father, they were more beloved items than tacky objects. When I met my husband and we started traveling together, I decided to continue the family tradition of collecting flat pennies and they became my beloved travel souvenir collection.
In case you are wondering, a flat penny is a penny that you put into a machine and turn a crank to print an image onto it. This image is normally a symbol of some sort that represents the place you are at that moment.
My first penny was from a weekend trip that my husband and I took to Chicago, and since then, I have gotten flat pennies on all the trips where we have found machines. We have found pennies all over the US, Canada, Germany, France, Denmark and Hungary. I am now a mother, and I am happy to say that collecting flat pennies on our trips is something we do as a family.
Read more from Kelly here.
Since I was a kid we’ve always collected dolls/figurines that are in the traditional dress of the country/area that we had visited.The idea of having a representation of where we’ve gone is what we love. Not the current ‘look’ or feel of the place but the roots, background and soul of a country.
We have been blessed to have traveled a lot since I was a kid and my parents have traveled even more.
So we love to display ours in a few curios. I counted them and there are around 40 dolls/figurines in them. And this does not include at least another 10-20, if not more, that are actually packed away for safe keeping.
Where to find them: sometimes they can be found in cultural/traditional mall stores that can be found in some counties. Mostly though, your best bet, will be to find a local market or side-street market.Not only will you probably be able to bargain but you will find more handmade items available than in the malls.
Typically they aren’t overly expensive, say $10-15. But there will, more than likely, be more expensive options, possibly made of stone, wood or metal.
They are the perfect collectible. Not only are they cute but they don’t take up much luggage space. Plus, what better way to remember your tip than with an item that can be displayed? For that matter, they make for great conversation makers too! 🙂
Read more from Cassie here.
Read also- Travel-themed gift ideas: For kids
While travelling, I collect jewellery and the area’s specialty item(s).
It all started when I was in Switzerland when I was 11. My mum bought me a Swatch watch. It was an item made in Switzerland and it was something I could use long after the trip was over. I couldn’t tell you where I’ve purchased any of my other watches over the years, but I remember that one (and it’s been nearly 30 years!)
It was an accident that I continued collecting jewellery from places I’ve travelled. It’s also not something I actively seek out. However, I usually end up in a shop with some gorgeous necklaces or earrings. It has become a cool way to remember the place I was visiting when I purchased the item. I tend to remember the purchase more if I bought it while travelling.
One of my favorite purchases was a necklace I bought in Jamaica, on my honeymoon. It isn’t an expensive piece, just a nice trinket that I thought was beautiful. It has been almost a decade and I still love this piece. I look at it and I’m taken right back to the store and the surrounding sights and sounds.
I really like to have jewellery to remind me of my travels.
Read more from Natalie here.
Another one of my travel souvenir collection ideas was T-shirts.
As soon as baby Isla was out of baby grows and into proper clothes, I started collecting T-shirts for her from our travels.
My intention is that once she out outgrown them I will turn them into a blanket! I think this will make a really cool souvenir that she will gets lots of use out of and can keep forever.
I will be doing the same with baby Saya too 🙂
For more on our family travel adventures take a look at some of these posts.
#6 Shot glasses
As a kid, I would always get a postcard whenever we went somewhere new, however as an adult, almost by accident I began collecting shot glasses. It may have been something to do with my first international holiday being to Poland, where vodka shots are certainly a popular occurrence!
My collection has been growing for around 10 years now and I always make sure to get a shot glass whenever we visit a new big city or country. We don’t use the ones we bring home. They have a home inside our two glass cabinets where they are on display.
Almost every individual city will have their own collection of destination themed shot glasses available. They are easy to pack and take up very little room in your luggage too. Most souvenir shops will stock them and usually for a fairly reasonable price of around $3-6US each.
While many are fairly basic clear glass with a printed image showing where they are from, I try to find unique options as well. A favourite would have to be my engraved crystal ones from different Polish cities or any with coloured glass, rather than the usual clear style.
When bringing them home, roll your shot glasses in your clothing. Ideally inside packing cubes if you use them, and take care when unpacking so you don’t end up shaking them out and breaking one.
Read more from Holly here.
We collect postcards. We’ve been collecting them since our eldest child’s first holiday and now have almost a hundred of them. Both our son and daughter have a special ‘postcard’ box where we store all the postcards that we’ve collected from around the world. The postcards are a great (and very cheap) way for us to keep our family travel memories alive. Postcards are getting a little trickier to find nowadays as fewer people send them. However, we normally manage to pick them up for less than US$1 in souvenir shops.
To make the collection even more personal and unique. We write a message to the children on each postcard. A brief description of that holiday destination and especially anything funny that they did during that trip. The postcards include all kinds of anecdotes such as when our son was two and totalled a hire car in Denmark! Or the fun things to do in KL with kids that we discovered when we moved to Malaysia.
For us, the postcards boxes are like memory boxes. A chance to record and remember the children’s big milestones as well as great times together as a family. We hope to continue this tradition for years to come and to give the children their boxes when they turn 21.
Read more from Kirsty here.
#8 Tea towels
When I travelled to Pisa a few years ago I saw some souvenir tea towels that I thought looked cool. What a great travel souvenir collection idea! I thought.
Unfortunately, it seems that tea towels are not as common on your travels as you might think, so the collection never really took off for me and I still have just the one tea towel from Pisa.
Nevertheless, it does invoke happy memories when I am drying the dishes!
I started collecting art on my trip to India I took in 2017. At Fort Madhogarh near Jaipur, India, there was an artist with a small shop. I purchased my first piece of art, a small hand-made picture of animals found in India, there. Price: Around $15 US dollars.
I purchased a second piece of art in Udaipur, India that features two of the major sites of Udaipur, the City Palace and the Lake Palace. Price: Around $20 US dollars.
My trip through Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam yielded three more pieces of art. The reproduction Communist poster was purchased in Ho Chi Minh City at a store called Saigon Kitsch. Price: Around $15 US dollars.
The piece of art I got from Cambodia was found completely by accident. I was in their version of a dollar store and I came across a sticker that had the symbol for ‘no smoking’ and something to the effect of ‘no smoking’ written in Khmer on it. Price: $1 – $2 US dollars.
I was doing research online for things to do in Bangkok and I came across a store called Classic Movie Poster. It is a small shop near the Asoke SkyTrain station that sells movie posters, both English and Thai versions. Some are reproductions, while a lot are originals.
I wanted something unique to remember my trip by, so I put my love of movies and travel together and purchased an original Thai movie poster for the 1981 Harrison Ford movie Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark. I was able to barter with the owner a bit. I also purchased an original Thai poster for the Star Wars movie The Force Awakens as a gift for a friend.
The piece of art from my latest trip was purchased in Luxor, Egypt, at a papyrus shop. We were taken there by our tour guide from Intrepid Travel, so this shop is definitely the real deal. Price: Around $25 US dollars.
Read more from Ryan here.
Read also- Types of tourism: A Glossary
#10 Soft toys
The next one my list of travel souvenir collection ideas is soft toys.
On baby Isla’s first big travel adventure to Costa Rica we came across this really cool soft sloth toy. You don’t see many sloth teddies around and we had been on the lookout for sloths all trip, so we decided to buy one for her.
…and so the collection begun!
It has now become a traditional to buy Isla a new soft toy from every destination that we travel to. Preferably it is an animal that we have seen whilst travelling and it will have some kind of badge or something to mark the country. Slothy is her favourite toy, but this is closely followed by a cheetah from South Africa and Canada bear!
For more cute pictures of the kids on their travels, follow along on Instagram!
We started buying magnets a few years ago, but it’s really since having children that our collection has taken off. We chose magnets because we wanted a souvenir we could collect that would usually be available and inexpensive. We collect them whenever we visit a new town or city and at tourist attractions. At last count we have nearly 70 (not including those that the children have “borrowed” from the fridge to keep with their toys). They usually cost £2-£3 but we have paid up to £4.50 at a major attraction.
We are always disappointed if an attraction doesn’t have a magnet with their name on. I also have a strong preference for a magnet that represents our visit. For example, my magnet from Brownsea Island has a red squirrel on it because we were lucky enough to see one there. If we hadn’t spotted the squirrel I would have chosen a different one, perhaps one with a peacock on it.
My son (age 4) and I often disagree about which magnet we should take home. He will often want one that doesn’t fit my criteria which is how we ended up with an owl from I don’t know where. Our tastes also differ wildly. I prefer attractive pictures, he prefers colourful and garish. My choice for our holiday to Barcelona was an understated black and white picture of the Sagrada Familia, one of my favourite buildings in the world. My son’s choice was a brightly coloured and one of the ugliest things I have ever seen. Both live on our fridge.
My favourite thing about collecting magnets is that each one tells a story.
Read more from Liona here.
Wherever I travel I like to bring back a gift for my family. However, travelling for months at a time it’s not possible to bring something from every place I visit. That’s why I buy thimbles from around the world. I’ve been collecting them since my first trip over eight years ago and we now have more than 100 different thimbles from 6 continents. Some from the same city but each with their own unique design.
Sometimes they’re harder to find and can be rare in parts of the world. On my recent trip to southern Africa I didn’t find any until my last day, whereas almost every town in Europe has them. The majority are made of white ceramic with a little piece of artwork on the front. However, some are a little different, such as the one I found in Easter Island which looks like a miniature Moai.
The good thing about collecting thimbles is there are generally a few choices for each place. They’re usually found in souvenir shops or marketplaces for around £2-3 and best of all they add little to no weight to my bag.
The only problem comes when asking how much they are. I was in Spain looking for something suitable and found a shop with three or four thimbles displayed in the window. But when I asked the price I forgot the Spanish word for thimble (“dedal”) and accidentally used the word for finger (“dedo”). I’ve never forgotten the correct word since.
#13 Loyalty cards
My wife and I travel full time. We have been traveling for the last 2.5 years. After covering most of Asia, we are currently in Mexico City. The first thing we do when we land in a new place is to find a Starbucks (if Starbucks has a presence in the country).
We do this because Starbucks Wifi is usually reliable and this ends up being our workplace until we can find a better one!
So we end up buying the Starbucks loyalty card which is different for different countries. Usually, these cards have imagery from the country, like national monuments, parks or famous personalities from the country. This makes the loyal card unique to the country and a nice collectible which we can carry around as we move from one country to another.
The collection used to be a lot bigger but our wallet was stolen in Malaysia and we are rebuilding the collection ever since.
Read more from Avinasha and his wife here.
#14 African beadwork
I’ve had the great good fortune to visit Southern Africa more than 20 times in the past 14 years. From my very first visit, I got hooked on collecting beadwork. Though I admire all the gorgeous jewellery (who wouldn’t?), it’s the figures that captivate me.
Beadwork has had a long, important history across the African continent. For thousands of years, it’s been an integral part of currency, status and ritual. Vivid color, a mix of materials and ingenious craftsmanship are the links that connect ancient bead artifacts with the fabulous pieces being created today.
I’ve centered my collection on beaded dolls, animals and birds created by Zulu and Ndebele people in South Africa. These figures hold pride of place in my home. When friends visit, they love to hear about the pieces I’ve brought back. Where did I get it? Where was the artisan from? What was their story?
Being a dedicated shopper, I definitely have places I know will get great selection, good quality and affordable prices. As you might imagine, price fluctuations can be staggering. For example, an 8” beaded doll in a safari lodge gift shop could retail for $80. At one of my favorite spots, I’ve paid $20 for something similar. The items pictured range from $6 (for a small bird) up to $30 (for the fish eagle).
Read more from Elaine here.
#15 Lonely Planet guides
When I was travelling Australia back in 2012 I checked in at a hostel that had an amazing Lonely Planet collection behind the front desk. I already had several books from my travels and from that day forward Lonely Planet guides became my travel souvenir collection.
My Lonely Planet guides take pride of place on the shelves in my office. Prior to leaving for each trip I either buy one second hand from Amazon or, if there are no good deals on Amazon or they are all too outdated, I order a new Lonely Planet from the publishers. I then annotate our route and highlight any attractions that we plan on visiting. This acts as a nice little record of our travels.
Whilst Lonely Planet used to be the ‘travel bible’, like most tourists nowadays, we also tend to rely on Trip Advisor and other, similar online forums/sites. Unlike published books, online information is much more up to date and reliable. HOWEVER, you can’t put your collection of Trip Advisor reviews and Internet research on a shelf!
So whilst my Lonely Planet guides are not as useful as they once were, I still purchase one before every trip to add to my collection.
#16 Christmas ornaments
Christmas ornaments are our family favorite travel souvenir collection! Why? They are always easy to find in shops year-round and are usually under twenty dollars. Ornaments are also easy to pack in your suitcase or in a carry-on bag. You can even pick one up at the airport! We also love that ornaments are one item for our entire family instead of each individual family member buying something.
From Paris to Aruba to California, we’ve collected ornaments from all over the world. My personal favorite is the ornament we bought during our visit to Ruby Falls and Rock City in Chattanooga, Tennessee! The best part of collecting ornaments is, each year when we decorate for Christmas, we’re able to reminisce as a family about our favorite trip memories. Hearing my children say “Oh, I remember when…” is absolutely priceless and I wouldn’t trade it for the world!
We’re big advocates for choosing experiences over things and often give travel as a present in our family. We have never been big on buying souvenirs during our travels, but Christmas ornaments have become our go-to travel collectable! They are something we look forward to purchasing and they always provide meaningful and lasting memories.
Read more from Julie here.
Our family travels on a budget, but like everyone else, we love having meaningful travel souvenirs from the places we visit. A few years ago, we travelled to a remote location in Oregon famous for sunstones. There’s a free collection area, and we took a day to visit. We collected a whole bag of shiny yellow sunstones. And to this day, every time we tell anyone about that trip, we show them the sunstones. It was the perfect (free!) souvenir!
That experience led us to other similar trips where we’d collect a local rock, mineral, or fossil. Always legally, we never take anything unless specifially allowed. But since then, we’ve collected obsidian, ancient fossils, thundereggs, petrified wood and more. They aren’t always free, sometimes we do pay to dig, but the fees are low and the experience is priceless.
Alongside our children, we’ve learned about geology, rock formation, and rockhounding. And we’ve collected some of the most unique travel souvenirs! We dream of someday setting up a display in our home to showcase our growing collection.
We travel almost exclusively in Oregon state, and rocks are collectable from nearly every part of the state. Near the Pacific Ocean, look for natural agates in the sand. In the creeks and rivers, petrified wood and red jasper are abundant. Eastern Oregon has hot spots of obisidian, opals, sunstones, and thundereggs. Oh, and those sunstones? We later took some to a jeweller and had the best ones cut into faceted stones.
Read more from Heather here.
#18 Children’s books
We started collecting children’s books as a travel souvenir on one of our first trips with our baby. Our son was 2 months old then. He is now five years old and has books from so many different places in America.
He has a New York City book, a Boston book, a Florida book, a Grand Canyon book, an Austin, TX book, a Maine book, a California book and even a camping book to commemorate our first camping experience in the Appalachian mountains.
We collect books because we love to read and reminisce. Cuddling and reading before bed is one of our most intimate times as a family and reading children’s books tied to a special memory allows us to relive that memory again and again. It’s that mushy gushy mom and kiddo bonding dreams are made of!
Prices for souvenir children’s books usually cost us $10-$30, which considering how often we use them, that’s pretty good bang for the buck. My favorite souvenir book to read is My Taxi Ride by husband and wife duo Paul DuBois Jacobs and Jennifer Swender. We bought this in New York. My son’s favourite is How I Became A Pirate by Melinda Long which we got in a souvenir shop at one of the great mansions in Newport, Rhode Island.
#19 Scratches (on a scratch map)
I keep hearing or reading from avid travellers: “We don’t collect things, we collect memories”. This is an amazing wish, I totally agree. But let’s face it: we do want to take a tiny part of where we have been as it stirs all those feelings we had gone through when we visited that place.
We came up with an amazing idea of collecting the places we have been and, most importantly, motivating ourselves to travel more – scratches on a scratch map!
I got this fabulous map as a gift from my family for Christmas. It was our baby’s first holiday, he was only two months old, and it seemed like a perfect start to scratch off our journey as a family. It is also a perfect gift for your family friends. It is light, it has a hard box, and looks amazing on our wall.
Until now, wherever we have travelled, first thing we are so excited to do when reaching home being super-exhausted is getting down to the floor and scratching off destinations we have just visited. We also sometimes put some exciting notes near the location with a magic marker that comes in a package.
Read more from Ana here.
#20 Trench art
Buying souvenirs is something we love to do to remind us of where we’ve been. We especially love to find unique items that have some kind of history attached to it, which is why we love visiting antique markets on our travels.
My hubby is a history buff, and especially loves World War history, so we’re always on the lookout for some collectibles, especially Trench art. Trench art is a term used to describe objects made from the debris and by-products of modern warfare, usually bullet casings. During our time in Europe, we visited quite a few antique stores and markets in search of them.
We hit the jackpot at an antique market in Waterloo Belgium, and found so many World War collectibles with prices ranging from about €10 up! Some of the trench art we’ve found are just absolutely amazing with all the details and intricate designs.
They’re not as easy to find as most souvenirs, but you can usually find them at antique markets. Europe is usually the best place to find trench art, but you can also find them in the US as well. We recently visited Gettysburg and found a few at an antique market there.
We’ve been collecting trench art for a few years now and our collection has grown to about eighteen pieces. Souvenirs are such a great way to remember all the places you’ve been, but also tells a story of that specific place and time.
Read more from Skylar here.
Read also- What is ‘begpacking’ and why is it so bad?
#21 European figurines
We love to travel and it seems that we always end up back in Europe! Europe is where we love to travel as it is so rich in history, architecture, food and much more! On our first trip to Europe we first started collecting figurines for each country we have visited which now proudly sit on our bookshelf in our guest bedroom and remind us of our travels every time we go in the room.
The best part is that each figurine is unique to the country it was collected from for example we got a tea light candle holder with wine grapes inside to remind us of St.Goar, Germany where we did wine tasting in a wine cellar. We have a light up wine glass to remind us of our champagne drink on the Eiffel Tour in Paris, France. Amsterdam was remembered with a small little ditch girl figurine wearing the traditional clogs and holding a tulip. We started our collection with 8 items as we travelled through 8 countries in 10 days.
As we continue our travels through Europe we make sure to bring something home to add to our collection such as a small Kate Kearney’s cottage from Ireland on our last visit. Our collection is currently about 12, and we already looking at plans for Europe next summer.
Read more from Kate here.
#22 Christmas Decorations
When we travel, we always enjoy bringing home a piece of the destination we visit. However, sometimes it’s hard to find a place to display items, especially if you have a smaller home like we do. We knew if we wanted to bring something home with us from every place we visit, it would have to be something small.
After some thought, we decided we would collect Christmas ornaments. Christmas is our favourite holiday, we go full on Griswold style in our neighborhood. We are even applying to be on the Tacky Light Tour this coming year! So, it seemed fitting to collect Christmas ornaments. They are small, don’t take up a lot of room, and have a natural display area – the Christmas tree!
We have been collecting Christmas ornaments for about 10 years and they have completely taken over our Christmas tree. We have hardly any room for generic ornaments anymore! We buy an ornament everywhere we go be it a new country, state, resort and sometimes even restaurants!
We haven’t been anywhere so far that didn’t have Christmas ornaments available for purchase and you can spend as little as $5 or as much as $20 depending on the ornament (or even more if you want to go super fancy!) It’s always fun to decorate the tree every year and place the ornaments on the tree and reminisce about our past travels!
#23 Rubik’s cubes
I wouldn’t call myself a collector, but Rubik’s cubes are the exception. The fascination started when I was a child, and my father brought one home. One side came quite quickly and then two, but try as I might, I didn’t get futher than that.
Fast forward nearly thirty years to when we started travelling. I would see them in all the gift shops. They didn’t seem so mysterious now; surely, they must be easier? On Youtube, it seems anyone can do it, even while juggling blindfolded. As if solving the puzzle would depend on the cube, not through my effort! I bought one, but it seemed I still had the difficult type.
Next trip I picked up another, but strangely it was no easier. When we got home to Oman with kids, and I had more time, I decided to take the challenge seriously. For the fresh start, I bought a new cube, and so now I was becoming a collector, I had to justify my investment. At last, with time and patience, I mastered the puzzle. Now, whenever I have a birthday or celebration, my family give me different models from the growing selection available. Some are simple variants on the original and use the same technique exactly. Others have similar mechanisms, but the puzzle is not equivalent.
This thing has crept up on me. By way of justification, I can only say that the amount of brainwork necessary works very well for me. I like the smooth feeling of rotating the cube too. Now I always pack one to travel. This saves me from the temptation to buy new ones, while I take my therapeutic fix in long airport layovers.
Read more from Ania here.
One of our favorite things to collect from our travels is currency. It’s a great way to represent all the different cultures we have visited without the added bulk of actual stuff.
My daughter, now 7, has always been fascinated by the different currencies all over the world so we decided to always keep some for her to have to look back on. She’s been to 20 countries so far, so we have quite the collection from all over the world! Collecting currency is a great way to learn about geography and economics of that country and it takes up very little space in your luggage.
The notes vary so much from country to country, it’s great to see the different colors and coin sizes from all over the world. We always have some money left over at the end of the trip and with exchange rates being not so great, especially for small amounts, it makes sense to just save it. Once home, currency is easy to store and takes up very little space. We keep ours in a tiny suitcase.
Read more from Maggie here.
My last travel souvenir collection idea is to collect memories!
Yes, I know, it might sound cheesy, but memories are the most precious thing that we collect on our travels!
I know that the kids won’t remember the travel adventures that take place early in their lives, so I love to document our travels through this blog, by making travel videos on our Go Pro and by taking lots of photos on our camera or, if I don’t have the camera to hand, on my iPhone. You can see some of our videos on my YouTube channel.
Travel is the perfect opportunity to make memories that will last a lifetime. Embrace it and enjoy it!
To follow our travels you can connect with us on Facebook!
Travel souvenir collection ideas- A few more to consider
In this post I have brought to you 25 travel souvenir collection ideas from a range of travel bloggers and influencers. Whilst these are all amazing ideas, there are also lots of other things that you can consider collecting.
Here is a list of some more travel souvenir collection ideas.
- Diary notes
- Drink coasters
- Drink umbrellas
- Drink labels (wine, beer etc)
- Snow globes
- Beach towels
- Wall hangings
- Kitchen utensils
- Candle sticks
- Hotel ‘do not disturb’ signs
- Football shirts
- Bracelet charms
- Key chains
Do you have any other travel souvenir collection ideas? I would LOVE to hear them!