Elephant paperweight, c1890, 1976_649
Elephant paperweight, c1890, 1976_649 (Photo credit: Black Country Museums)

What is a tchotchke? According to the always-correct Wikipedia, it is “a small toy, gewgaw, knickknack, swag, bauble, thingamajig, doodad, lagniappetrinket, or kitsch.” If you are still having trouble grasping this concept, please go watch this video from Disney’s “The Little Mermaid.” Ariel was obsessed with human artifacts, such as gadgets and gizmos, which is just one of her many downfalls.

We all have tchotchkes laying around our rooms and houses. They serve as a reminder of things we have experienced in our lives.

If you are one of the modern people who have thrown away or hidden all of your tchotchkes, shame on you. It is possible to be modern and sleek while still appreciating the past moments of your life.

When I was younger, I had a large collection of snow globes. I loved snow globes. They are beautiful and mesmerizing. However, I have now graduated to ‘big girl tchotchkes.’ Some examples:

  • A stuffed lamb given to me by a close friend and neighbor
  • A squirrel statuette/paperweight, carved out of some type of wood
  • Not sure if half-empty perfume bottles count, but if they do, add a handful of them to this list
  • A silverish dish which I believe belonged to my great-grandmother, that I keep my jewelry and keys in
  • A small and haphazard collection of bookmarks
  • A blue ceramic tile I got in Avingnon, France, which I use as a coaster of sorts

The list could go on and on. We all have little things that make us feel like we truly inhabit a space or area. These are important, as without the beloved tchotchkes, life’s spaces would seem like a large IKEA showroom, indiscriminate and blissfully unremarkable, able to belong to anybody. Why conform? Why want our space to be the same as everyone else’s? Let’s make our spaces stand out with tchotchkes.

This is not to say cover your life with small collectibles or momentos. Please, under any circumstances, turn into a person who could appear on the TV showHoarding: Buried Alive.” Because that is a whole different ballgame.

Do you have any tchotchkes? Anything that makes you feel at home? Anything little knick-knack that you will never part with? Anything as creepy as a carved squirrel paperweight? Please share below:


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