What is a Tchotchke?

what is a tchotchke?

A tchotchke is defined as an inexpensive item that is usually more decorative than functional. These little trinkets sit on office desks, shelves at home, or on your clothing, adding a bit of personality.

Tchotchkes are just fun! If you’re committed to minimalism and clutter-free spaces, they may seem like a waste. However, it’s perfectly okay to have them if they make you feel happy!

Synonyms for the word “tchotchke” include: knick knack, trinket, novelty, and bric-à-brac.

How Do You Pronounce Tchotchke?

how to pronounce tchotchke

You pronounce the word “tchotchkes” as chotch-keys. The “t” in the front is completely silent both times it’s used, which makes it a frustrating word to learn how to spell.

The correct way to spell “tchotchke” is with a silent “t” on the front, kind of like in the word “tsunami”. People have mistakenly spelled “tchotchke” as:

  • Chotskie
  • Chotchkey
  • Chochkey
  • Chatskie
  • Chachki
  • Tchochka
  • Tchotke

According to Grammarphobia, the “t” is silent in words like “tchotchkes,” “listen,” “and “beret” because it’s too difficult or awkward to pronounce the letter with the surrounding consonants.

This still doesn’t explain why we even need the “t” in the first place, but it does help shed some light on why some words are pronounced in unexpected ways.  Now who can explain “gnat” and “mnemonic”?

What Are Some Examples of Tchotchkes?

Harry Potter Funko

You might have tchotchkes decorating your bookshelf or desk at home. Maybe your grandma has a cabinet full of cat statues.

“Tchotchke” is a catchall term for anything that serves a decorative purpose. It can be the random items you find in your Christmas stocking, the prizes at the bottom of a cereal box, or the trinkets you buy at stores like Hot Topic.

The following items would be considered “tchotchkes”:

  • Funko Pop Toys
  • Statues & Figurines
  • Garden Gnomes
  • Snow Globes
  • Keychains
  • Buttons & Pins
  • LEGO Sets
  • Collectibles
  • Bobbleheads
  • Sculptures
  • Decorative Lights
  • Fake Flowers & Plants
  • Throw Pillows
  • Ornaments
  • Stuffed Animals
  • Holiday Decor
  • Salt & Pepper Shakers
  • Decorative Jars & Bowls
  • Signs & Posters
  • Tapestries
  • Candles
  • Stress Balls
  • Pinwheels

As mentioned, tchotchkes don’t have an inherent purpose. You usually can’t even use them for anything other than sticking them somewhere and enjoying how they look.

Where Does the Word Tchotchke Come From?

origins of the word "tchotchke"

The word “tchotchke”  has a fascinating origin. It’s actually Yiddish. Jewish-Americans, especially those in New York City, use this word to describe not only random trinkets, but also beautiful women.

Nowadays, “tchotchkes” is almost always associated with the promotional products industry. You’ll hear this word thrown around at trade shows, conventions, and other B2B and B2C events.

What Are the Pros & Cons of Buying Tchotchkes?

You may be on the fence about whether to buy that cool snow globe at the gift shop. After all, the last thing you want is to feel buyer’s remorse as soon as you get home. Consider the pros and cons of buying that tchotchke!

thumbs up

Pros of Tchotchkes

If you’re interested in advertising a company or cause, you can get a ton of exposure by printing your name or logo on tchotchkes. People love these odds and ends for a number of reasons.

Here are the pros of tchotchkes:

  • Gets People Talking – People who receive a cool free tchotchke are 20% more likely to talk about it on social media.

  • Increases Happiness & Connection – Gift giving and receiving, even if it’s a small tchotchke, has been proven to make you feel happier and more likely to start a conversation.

  • Drives More Customers83% of people are more likely to do business with a company if they give them something for free, even if it’s a simple tchotchke.

  • More Attention – A study from Exhibit Surveys Inc. found that booths with tchotchkes on display had higher trade show traffic than companies that showed up with nothing.

  • Boosts Creativity & Energy – The Journal of Environmental Psychology found that decorating your workspace with items like tchotchkes will make you feel more productive, inspired, and energized.

People like receiving things for free and are likely to tell others about it when they do. Not only that, but they will also feel happier and more energized when they get a cute new decoration. These are all good reasons to invest in tchotchkes!

thumbs down

Cons of Tchotchkes

Some tchotchkes are looked at as a waste of money and resources. Let’s dive into that side of the argument as well.

Here are the cons of tchotchkes:

  • Bad for the Environment – Tchotchkes may take a lot of resources to create, and even worse, could eventually end up in the trash. This is alarming as the average American tosses 5 pounds per day into landfills.

  • Poor Quality – While this isn’t always the case, there are tchotchkes that easily break or fall apart easily. They also tend to look cheap and a little tacky.

  • Creates Clutter – In this overcrowded world, the last thing you need is more stuff and clutter. Bad tchotchkes are cumbersome and do nothing but take up room or storage space.

  • Not Everlasting – People buy new things all the time, so eventually they may get bored of their tchotchkes. If it’s not something they totally love, it may end up eventually in the Goodwill donation pile.

  • Easy to Overlook – Certain tchotchkes are tossed into a drawer and forgotten about. Others are on your shelves so long, they gather dust and you barely notice them. The novelty of these items eventually wears off.

Value is everything. You don’t want to just buy tchotchkes for the sake of buying them. Take some time to look for something unique and useful, but also affordable.

Are Promotional Products Tchotchkes?

Not all promotional products are tchotchkes. The swag listed below is ordered all the time, and each item is more useful than the last.

Custom Drinkware

Drinkware is having a moment. In fact, it’s super fashionable to carry around a stylish water bottle, tumbler, glass, or mug. You can’t go wrong customizing an Instagram-ready piece of drinkware!

Hardcover Notebooks

Do you want your giveaways to have some class? Go with sophisticated hardcover notebooks!  They’re easy to slip into a bag and are perfect for to-do lists and meeting notes. 

Promotional Bags

Canvas tote bags are pretty popular, especially at trade shows and conferences. Kick your bags up a notch by going with a stylish material like jute or cotton

Custom Apparel

Apparel is always a favorite with the crowd and is most definitely not a tchotchke. You would never throw a fleece jacket on your bookshelf and forget about it!

Kitchenware

There is a variety of kitchenware you can customize with your design, from bowls and plates to whisks, and cutting boards.

Yoga Mats

In this busy world, more and more people are turning to yoga and meditation. These yogis can be reminded of your brand every day if you add your logo to a squishy yoga mat.

Hand Sanitizers

There are a lot of germs out there, especially in public places! A portable hand sanitizer keeps you protected and helps prevent any harmful bacteria from invading your system.

Phone Chargers

We are all glued to our cell phones. It’ll be easier to keep people at a 100% charge if you hand out custom chargers or power bricks as a free giveaway at your next event.

Overall, the more useful an item, the less likely it is to be considered a tchotchke. Drinkware, clothing, phone chargers, yoga mats… these are all things people can actually use in their daily lives.

Final Thoughts

A tchotchke doesn’t have to be something cheap and pointless. It’s up to you to not just grab gifts that people will love and reflect their personalities. If you’re a business owner, you need to brainstorm how to make your promotional keychains or stress balls grab attention. Make it count!

The tchotchkes at Quality Logo Products® check off all the boxes. Quality is literally in our name. You can find fun little giveaways that are right in your budget, but don’t fall apart after five minutes. They will be used and loved by the people who receive them for years!

References

Vocabulary. Tchotchke. Retrieved from, https://www.vocabulary.com/dictionary/tchotchke

DiGiose, N. (2019, August 21). Nine Gift-Related Facts You Didn’t Know. Retrieved from, https://www.1800flowers.com/c/unique-gifts

White, M. (2013, June 24). 5 Ways Companies Win By Giving Away Free Stuff. Retrieved from, https://business.time.com/2013/06/24/5-ways-companies-win-by-giving-stuff-away/

McNulty, G. (2018, January 1). How Decorating Your Workspace Benefits You and Your Business. Retrieved from, https://team-prestige.com/blog/workspace/decorating-your-workspace-benefits/

Houston, C. (2019, June 28). Why Trade Show Giveaways Are Important. Retrieved from, https://www.godelta.com/blog/why-trade-show-giveaways-are-important

Borenstein, S. (2015, September 21). The US Government Grossly Underestimated How Much Trash We Throw in Landfills. Retrieved from, https://www.businessinsider.com/ap-study-twice-as-much-trash-put-in-landfills-than-estimated-2015-9

Grammarphobia. (2012, January 2). Why is “T” Often Silent? Retrieved from, https://www.grammarphobia.com/blog/2012/01/silent-t.html

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