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DIY Tips on How to Make your Frugal Supermarket Souvenirs Gift-Worthy

Our DIY Guide to Making your own Frugal Gifts with Souvenirs from Foreign Supermarkets

I love shopping foreign supermarkets for souvenirs to bring back home. Who can resist the aisles packed with colorful jars of jam, cookie boxes and candy bars, with flavors I’ve never heard of and sometimes in languages I can’t understand. The more foreign-looking the item, the better.

While I love anything and everything from a foreign grocery store, I used to hesitate to bring home foreign grocery store souvenirs as gifts for others. For starters, not everyone appreciates the sometimes generic-looking supermarket packaging.

But more importantly, I didn’t want to look cheap, like I skipped the fancy gift shop just to save a few bucks (I actually prefer supermarket souvenirs to anything you can find in a so-called “gift shop.”)

So I decided to give my foreign grocery finds a little makeover. Using a few dollars worth of ribbons, mason jars and kraft bags (and little to no craft skills) I transformed generic-looking grocery items into gift-worthy souvenirs.

1. Presentation is Everything: Repackaging Foreign Grocery Store Items to Make them Gift-Worthy

If you have any doubts about the importance of presentation, read our post on Japan’s obsession with beautiful packaging.The Japanese have taken gift-wrapping to a whole new level, turning it into an art form.

French supermarket souvenirs frugal cheap France Paris

Some foreign supermarket items are gift-ready right off the shelf. For a lover of French sardines, this colorful tin needs no further frills or adornments.

But not every supermarket item is quite as appealing in its original packaging.

Imagine trying to “gift” a giant sack of Irish soda bread mix or a plastic bag of black beans.

It also makes sense to repackage your souvenirs so you can take advantage of buying bigger packages that you can later divide up into smaller gift portions:

  • packing lots of individual boxes takes up more room
  • buying a larger bag or box of an item can be more economical than buying multiple smaller bags
  • instead of gifting each recipient just one souvenir item,  you can instead offer them small tastes of a variety of items
  • those same friends who complain about how a box of cookies will ruin their diet will have no problem scarfing down the same amount of cookies divided up into cute little bags.

How-to-Guide to Repackaging Supermaket Souvenirs

I just returned from Paris so most of the photos are of my French supermarket souvenirs, but you can apply the same ideas to any country’s supermarket souvenirs (for shopping tips by country or a general guide to shopping any foreign supermarket, check out some of our other posts).

DIY Gift Idea #1: Bag it, Jar it, Tie a Ribbon Around it

First, the supplies. Here’s what you’ll need:

1. Gift Bags

Gift bags of all sizes are a great way to reapportion your larger items.

  • Clear Cellophane Favor Bags— I bought several sizes
  • White Paper Gift Bags
  • Mini Natural Kraft Paper Bags

2. Glass Jars.

glass ball mason jars gifts travel souvenirs

It seems like everyone is using mason jars these days for everything except canning.

glass yogurt jars france french belgium

I love picking up delicious yogurts in glass containers when I travel (popular in France and Belgium). Save the jars to use as gift containers.

Glass jars are great for repackaging pretty much everything. What to look for:

  • Glass Mason Jars These are best for items you want to share in larger quantities, like lentils or baking mixes.
  • Small Glass Jar with Cork I like these for salt or spices
  • Repurposed glass jars from your travels (like glass yogurt jars from France)

3. Ribbon or twine
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  • Grosgrain Ribbon Pack  I prefer grosgrain to other types of ribbon– it looks and feels nicer. It’s pretty easy to find red, white and blue striped ribbon, which is perfect for French souvenirs. For other countries, you could try combining separate solid colored ribbons from each flag color, or go with a pattern that reminds you of the country (for example, I bought the embroidered flower ribbon above to use for Hungarian souvenirs). If that’s too much trouble, just pick a ribbon you like or stick with a neutral color like white or cream.
  • Rope Twine is also a nice option if there isn’t room to tie a ribbon (twine is thinner and easier to get around small-necked bottles) or you simply prefer a simpler look. Twine is also great for attaching gift tags, recipe cards or mini wooden scoops (a nice add-on for salts and spices).

4. Country Flag Stickers
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Country Flag Stickers I love using little stickers on just about everything– bags, jars, gift tags. Stickers are also a great way to seal those little paper kraft bags.

Once you’ve gathered your supplies, you are ready to put together your souvenir gifts: 

Paper Gift Bag with Sticker

This gift idea works well for things like cookies. Open up a couple boxes of cookies and add a few cookies of each variety into its own separate kraft gift bag. Optional: seal the bag closed with a country flag sticker.

bonne maman tartelettes souvenir

I prefer to use cookies that are individually wrapped, liked these Bonne Maman Tartelettes, but it’s not mandatory.

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Cellophane Bag with Ribbon

Clear cellophane bags work great for colorful souvenir candies and chocolate.

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Swedish licorice candies are pretty in a bag.

frugal gift ideas bag souvenir chocolate

I didn’t want to give away my entire package of chocolate-covered marshmallows from Belgium so I put a few in a gift bag and kept the rest for myself.

Jars decorated with Ribbons

While the little clear baggies work well for sweets, they aren’t as practical for food souvenirs you might cook with, like loose lentils or sea salts. I like using a container that can be put away in the pantry– mason jars and smaller spice jars work nicely.

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My French lentils from a fancy grocery store came in a nondescript paper bag. Before gifting them, I transferred them to a mason jar and tied up with a ribbon.

french sea salt jar gift

My very economical mom brought home a huge bag of sea salt from France and doled out these little gifts back home.

Supermarket Souvenir Gift Idea #2: Bundle Related Items Together

Some supermarket souvenirs seem a little lonely if gifted on their own, but put them together with related items and they instantly become gift-worthy.

french sponges vegetable best souvenir france

I’m not sure of any circumstance where I would hand someone a package of sponges on their own– even if they are French.

These awesome French vegetable sponges look so much prettier freed from their plastic packaging– once you’ve tried them you’ll never want to use synthetic sponges again.

french sponge dish towel DIY gift souvenir france

Bundle the sponges with a super-durable French kitchen towel and you have a pretty but practical gift that is certain to be used.

french soap souvenir france paris cheap souvenir supermarket

A bar of French soap on its own is an ok gift.

french cheap souvneir gift soap

But bundle a couple of soap with these adorable French pocket washcloths and you have an adorable gift that you’ll be tempted to keep for yourself.

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And finally, we have the DIY souvenir gift basket. Instead of buying a premade basket filled with overpriced, pre-selected stuff you may not even want, make up your own custom baskets on the cheap.

gift basked french souvenirs france paris

My souvenir gift basket of French supermarket souvenirs– filled with under $5 worth of supermarket souvenirs.

Buying Guide:

I spent hours hunting these gift packaging items down at a couple of local craft stores– but it would have been easier and cheaper to order them online at Amazon–

Clear Cellophane Favor Bags

White Paper Gift Bags

Mini Natural Kraft Paper Bags

Grosgrain Ribbon Pack

Country Flag Stickers

Glass Mason Jars

Small Glass Jar with Cork

Rope Twine

Baskets

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Do you have any great ideas for making your souvenirs gift-worthy? Share in the comments!

6 Responses to DIY Tips on How to Make your Frugal Supermarket Souvenirs Gift-Worthy

  1. Sue Slaght 01/11/2015 at 7:49 pm #

    Oh very clever! These are great ideas that make my wallet feel happier .

  2. dianaveggienextdoor 01/13/2015 at 9:12 am #

    These are great ideas, Kristin! I like the suggestion of getting a large package and splitting it out. You are right that can be SO much cheaper and you make it look even nicer 🙂

  3. Chanel | Cultural Xplorer 01/13/2015 at 10:19 pm #

    Those are great ideas Kristin, and I see you are really getting into the DIY 😀 I usually don’t buy souvenirs these days (with the exception of a magnet here and there), however, I think I will try this on my next trip!

  4. Kimberly 01/16/2015 at 10:25 am #

    So creative. Perfect for hostess gifts. Can’t wait to make a few.

    • Kristin Francis 01/16/2015 at 1:37 pm #

      Thanks so much!

  5. Karen Chew 09/06/2015 at 1:27 am #

    Hi and thank you for your wonderful articles! I’m going to Paris for the very first time next month and can’t wait to find the Monoprix, grocery stores, flea markets and more. I love your fun ideas that I can share with friends and family. Thanks again!

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