I don’t know about you, but for me it’s been one of those weeks where more often than I thought possible, I needed to pause for a moment, close my eyes and wish I was anywhere but where I am right now. It’s just been one crisis after another, none of them terribly real, but all of them incredibly stressful and migraine-inducing. Work, home, family – all of it one big cluster of insanity. As I sip my warm peppermint tea out of my favorite Chip mug, I realize part of the ritual is the mug itself and part is the memory and warm feelings it holds.
I got Chip as a souvenir at Disney Springs on Miss O’s first trip to Disney World last summer. I saw it in the store and felt this glow of happiness. It literally sparked joy for me the moment I saw it. I knew it had to be mine. I’m not much of a souvenir person, especially for something from a place I’ve been a million times. This was different for me, though. Not only was this a practical thing, that I knew would get used frequently, it was tied to an important moment for me. It makes me smile to have a cuppa with Chip because it’s a delightful nod to Beauty and the Beast, but it’s also a reminder of our first trip to Disney as a family. Having tea with Chip is now my nightly ritual.
When I travel, I tend towards practical souvenirs that I know will get use. Pieces of art, mugs, serving pieces, jewelry or accessories, things that are less likely to get dismissed to the back of a drawer. I try to look for things that will remind me of the experience I had or a place we went.
Christmas ornaments are another favorite for me. I knew we’d get one to remember our Disney trip and, while I was looking for something unique or special, Miss O chose a small resin sculpture of Cinderella’s castle with Mickey wearing a Santa hat waving on the front. It’s not exactly what I was going for, but how could I say no? Sometimes simple is perfect. Two days later, I found an ornament of Jack Skellington as a snowman that Miss O and I both giggled over and knew he had to come home with us as well.
When we were planning the trip, I started thinking about what I wanted to get for Miss O that would be a reminder for her, much in the same way Chip is for me. I figured she’d get a pair of ears, if she wanted them and maybe a small stuffed friend, but I wanted to get something a little more long-lasting. I poured through Pinterest, my go to for most of my curiosity hunts, and found that Disney still carries build-your-own-charm bracelets or necklaces in many of their park gift shops. Miss O was just starting to get into her jewelry phase and I thought it would be fun for her to pick out what spoke to her most. In terms of cost, they weren’t that expensive either. I think it was about $5 a charm, which is a heck of a lot cheaper than ears or a stuffed toy!
Hubs and I decided we’d get a bracelet and let Miss O pick one charm per park per day, which meant one for Animal Kingdom, one for our first day at Magic Kingdom, one for Epcot, one for Hollywood Studios and one for our second day at Magic Kingdom. We never found the shop that has them at Hollywood Studios, so we ended up getting two on our second day at Magic Kingdom. The bracelet comes with a silver castle to get you started and most of the stores carry the same charms. We found there were plenty of different charms to choose from and Miss O chose charms that reminded her of the princesses we visited, rides we rode and even a Mickey Bar!
For anyone worried about Miss O not getting ears, don’t. After a small melt down caused by an overwhelming number of choices Miss O went with sequined Mickey Ice Cream bar ears with a pink bow. She also got a small stuffed Princess Minnie after an amazing first day at Magic Kingdom and her G-Ma bought her a stuffed baby Marie from Aristocats, one of Miss O’s favorite movies.
In Epcot, Miss O chose a small Pokemon playset featuring Pikachu and Vaporeon drinking Hot Cocoa by a gingerbread house. It made me laugh too hard to pass up and I knew it would fit in her carry-on bag. I don’t regret it, either. It’s been almost a year and she just took it in to school for show and tell, AGAIN. The best part of that was being able to have it delivered to our room because we stayed at Disney’s Art of Animation hotel and that’s a free service! We bought it around noon and it was at the hotel gift shop waiting for us when we return from Epcot around 7 PM. We got off the shuttle, I handed my receipt to the Castmember at the desk and she brought it out less than 5 minutes later.
Along with the autographs we got on our DIY Autograph banner, these are the things that get constant attention in our house. Did I spend more than I thought I would? Absolutely. Could I afford it? Yes, but I saved and budgeted for a few things. I also bought myself an Alex and Ani bracelet with Tinkerbell reminding me to “Think happy thoughts.” I knew I wanted one and I knew that even though I could order it online, like I did with some of our Disney-themed shirts, I wanted to pick one at the park so it would mean more to me.
It could have been easy to get swept up in the moment and buy everything we saw. Well, easy, but not fiscally responsible or affordable. I saved up some money, but I’m not making it rain for anyone anytime soon. I had a budget in mind and I said “no” a lot during that trip. I did also say yes to a Minnie Mouse sweatshirt in Epcot because Miss O was chilly that morning and it can be freezing on some of those rides when they’re not full. I bought it small enough to fit her but large enough she’d get a couple of seasons out of it. In retrospect I should’ve gone with one that fit her better since she didn’t wear it as much as I would’ve liked this fall, but it was a bit big and she already had a hoodie that fit her well. It’ll fit her next fall, so I don’t mind hanging on to it. I’ll probably end up packing it for our return trip and avoid buying another one!
Either way, these little memories are what get me through the times I just can’t. I’ll really have to watch my pennies this spring with our upcoming trip to France and England. I’ll feel less pressured to buy things there, but I know I’ll at least want an ornament for our tree or some decorative knick-knack for a shelf at home that I can look at an feel a sense of peace or joy. Perhaps I’ll find a new mug for my breakfast coffee that can keep Chip company in the cupboard.