If you’re about to go on your first trip since becoming a parent and are looking for an easy souvenir idea, here’s one: Nothing.
Don’t get baby anything on that trip, or any other. Stop the habit before it starts and you’ll save yourself heaps of time, money, and aggravation.
(Also, if you’re shoving Tooth Fairy money under your child’s pillow for the first time, leave something way south of five bucks. I left a fiver for my eldest daughter when she lost her first tooth, and what was meant as a one-time-only First Lost Tooth prize became the Tooth Fairy’s going rate for the next 15 years. But that’s another story.)
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For the rest of you, if you’ve already descended the slippery slope of trying to bring home decent souvenirs for children who, for the sake of argument, may be a little spoiled, then here are a few tips that may prove useful.
Ask Waiters in Your Destination What They Would Recommend Chances are that any given restaurant server you meet during your travels will be younger and hipper than you and very likely will have a niece or nephew. Ask your waiter what local trinket she’d buy for a child and she’ll likely have a good recommendation. Also effective is getting advice from a mom or dad with kids that you stop on the street – your instincts should tell you if they’re locals.
Target a major attraction gift shop for your souvenir buying. As you may have discovered, most museums, aquariums, and zoos will permit you to visit their gift shops without making you buy an admission ticket for the venue. While getting advice from local parents, ask them which attraction has the most worthy gift shop. Spring for a round-trip taxi ride to go there if necessary and knock off all your souvenir shopping at once. Many of the kid-appropriate gifts you find there will be pegged to your destination and even if they’re not, your kids likely won’t care as long as the gift is good.
Don’t buy them anything if you can’t find something good or appropriate. A mentor once told me that the most valued decision you can make on behalf of your company is talking them out of spending a lot of money on a bad idea, and the same holds true for souvenirs. If you’re pressed for time and your only option is to buy an expensive gift that you know in your heart won’t be appreciated, don’t buy it.