Create Vacation Souvenirs You Don’t Want to Hide

How to Avoid Bringing Home Half the Beach

Summer is a great time for family vacations and if your kids are anything like mine, one of their favorite things about vacation is souvenirs! Even when my kids picked out a souvenir to purchase, it was inevitable that they would collect a myriad of other artifacts from the beach or campground. On one trip they had so much fun collecting things around the campground area and it kept them so occupied, that they filled up an entire gallon size ziploc bag. When we got home, their grandparents were thrilled to see their vast collection of beer bottle caps!

Beach Shells


I am sure you are a good parent who doesn’t allow your children to pick up beer bottle caps (I made sure they left the cigarette butts) from empty neighboring campsites while on vacation, but I am guessing that you, like us, have headed home from the beach with the car weighing an extra fifty pounds and smelling like a whaling ship from all the sand and shells in the back seat, so…

Here are three fun ideas for displaying all of the “nature” your kids pick up on your next summer vacation:

Help them limit and organize their treasures:


1. Give them an organizer:

The inexpensive, non-breakable sewing organizers in the picture above are great. Require them to choose only their favorite items to display. You can color code the storage boxes so they can easily see which organizer belongs to them. Older children can use clean empty spice bottles or a mason jar to take along. Let them make a pretty display with sand and shells or their shiniest rocks. Keep only bottles with tight sealing lids, and the car will smell better all the way home, or at least you will know the smell is not coming from their seashells.

Rock Collection Jar

2. Make their collections into a 3-D work of art:

A simple plaster-of-paris mold can turn your kiddos’ items into a clever display.

Take these items along with you on vacation and make their nature sculpture before you head home or let them use a plastic mold and make it at home:

  • 1 box of craft type plaster of paris (available at craft stores)
  • an empty storage container such as a large coffee can or a plastic ice cream bucket with a lid for mixing
  • paint stirring sticks
  • paper cups

Scoop out your design in the sand to make your mold. Then mix plaster according to the  – directions use your container. If you are at the beach, you can use sea water – it won’t change the end result. Do not over mix, you want it pour-able and don’t want it to set up too quickly. Pour the mixture into your “mold” and spread it with your stick so that the plaster goes all the way to the edges, then let the kids add their shells, feathers, rocks, sea glass etc. The plaster of paris should set up in about an hour or less. Remove your plaster carefully and dispose of your container and supplies properly.


3.Give them a disposable digital camera:

Trust me, they are going to get some really great shots. Get their vacation pictures printed out and make a vacation scrapbook. Who knows you may discover the next Ansel Adams. The cameras are “one time use” but look for the ones that are completely recyclable!

Let’s face it, creative and nature loving kids are going to pick up odds and ends that they find fascinating.  I really do miss the days when I did laundry and found rocks in the dryer. Now I am more likely to find a watch, a bug or an ipod!

What is the worst thing you have found in your car on the way home from vacation?

Do you find weird stuff in your washer/ dryer?

Leave me a comment – it is fun to embarrass your kids by telling the internet about what they have stuffed in their pockets.

15 comments on “Create Vacation Souvenirs You Don’t Want to Hide

  1. What great ideas!! It’s always fun to see the things and look back on the memories! #HomeMattersParty

  2. Awesome ideas!! I always love to look back the memories I collected as a child and so I think these are some great ways to save them.

  3. michellejames42

    June 3, 2016 at 8:45 pm Reply

    Such a great post! I love sea glass! Thanks for sharing at #HomeMattersParty

  4. Great ideas! I’ll try these next time we’re at the beach. With my kids, it’s me telling them no, you can’t bring home a crab. Or a fish. Or whatever other animal you find! 🙂 #HomeMattersParty

    • Merit Kirkpatrick

      June 5, 2016 at 1:38 pm Reply

      Oh Crystal, you have my sympathies – it is so hard to say “no” – my kids kept grub worms for pets at one time!

  5. livefromjulieshouse

    June 5, 2016 at 6:15 pm Reply

    Great ideas Merit! I like the idea of giving them each their own organizer. #HomeMattersParty

  6. These are some great ideas. I like the idea of giving them their own organizer.

  7. I live at the beach, and these are awesome ideas. When we have people / family come to visit, they are always wanting to take something special home. These will make great suggestions! Thanks for sharing and being a wonderful co-host of the #HomeMattersParty – we love having you on the team! 🙂

    Life With Lorelai

    • Merit Kirkpatrick

      June 7, 2016 at 8:20 am Reply

      Thanks so much for the warm welcome, Lorelai! I am having a great time and enjoying getting to know the team and participants at the #HomeMattersParty

  8. Love your ideas! So much fun to try. Thanks for sharing. #HomeMattersParty

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