We all do it, after every vacation we bring home mementoes that we just have to keep. Whether they're wine corks from a trip to Napa, shells from a week-long beach break, or ticket stubs from a European adventure, they usually become clutter rattling around in junk drawers. Not any more! With these super simple crafts, reimagine your favorite souvenirs as personalized, one-of-a-kind decor.
Photos: Liza Battestin
Craft #1: Mason Jars
Mason jars are perfect for displaying vacation souvenirs, no matter the destination. You can make your display however you'd like, but here's how we created ours:
Rope, string, or hemp
For this beach-themed jar, paint both the top of the jar and a rock gathered from the beach white. Paint a '13 on the rock (for the year of the trip) and write the month, year, and location on a gift tag. When everything has dried and it's time to assemble, pour the sand in first. Then create a pretty arrangement of rocks, shells, and driftwood in the jar. Put the lid on and loop the tag around the top of the jar.
The wine-themed jar is even simpler! Pour wine corks into the jar and screw on the lid. For a rustic feel, wrap twine or rope around the lid. Write the location and the year on a sticker label. Stick it to the front of the jar and, voila!
Use these jars solo, as we did here, or create a bunch and line them up on a shelf or mantel to display all of your treasured memories together.
Craft #2: Memory Box
Not all souvenirs have to be displayed to become a decorative accent. You can keep all of the maps, brochures, pictures, and trinkets tucked away in a box, while still displaying your travels. We turned a generic wooden box into a bright bookshelf accent with the addition of paint, decorative paper, and stenciling.
Map or decorative paper
Mod Podge (or another decoupage medium)
Follow these easy steps to create your own memory box:
1. Give the box two coats of paint in your chosen shade. If you're planning on placing a few boxes on the same shelf, painting the boxes in different colors will create interest, while similar shades will create cohesion.
2. Let the box dry before stenciling the destination on the front of the box. We used black paint. If you painted the box a dark color, try white for contrast. It's okay if the stenciling is a little outside the lines. Imperfect lettering is reminiscent of a passport stamp, which enhances the travel theme of the box.
3. To adhere the map (or decorative paper) to the top of the box, measure the spot where the paper will go and carefully cut the paper to the proper size.
4. Apply one layer of Mod Podge (or any decoupage medium) to the top of the box.
5. Then, smooth the paper onto the box with your hands, making sure there are no air bubbles.
6. Apply another layer of Mod Podge over the top of the paper to secure it to the box and let it dry. It will dry clear and shiny.
If you wish, stencil a heart, star, or any other shape on your travel locale on the map. Once the box is completely dry, fill it with your travel mementoes!
Craft #3: Shadow Box
If you want to highlight a few important souvenirs, a shadow box is the way to go! Displaying keepsakes behind glass elevates them from trinkets to treasures. Here's what you'll need and step-by-step instructions to complete your own shadow box:
Glue dots or double-stick tape
Acrylic paint (if desired)
1. Select your items with a theme in mind. There are many mementoes we could have chosen from this trip, but for a cohesive look, we picked keepsakes in neutral, blue, and green hues. You can select your souvenirs based on a portion of the trip, a specific building, or one picture.
2. Once you've gathered your souvenirs, decide how you'd like to cover the shadow box. You can paint it or use decorative paper, like we did on the inside of the box.
3. If you use paper, simply measure the box's dimensions and carefully cut the paper to fit. Adhere the paper to the box with glue dots or double-stick tape. If you paint it, let it dry fully before playing around with souvenirs in the box. (You don't want to get paint on your memories!) You can also paint the box's frame. We chose not to paint the wood because the natural grain complemented our earthy color palette.
4. Play around with how you want to arrange your souvenirs before sticking them down with glue dots or double-stick tape. Trying different arrangements and groupings is half of the fun!
5. Make sure everything is secure inside the box before hanging it on a wall or placing it on a bookshelf.