Paper Tickets: My Love Note to Ephemera

4 min readJun 17, 2024


Paper Tickets: My Love Note to Ephemera

My daughter and I are heading to see her favorite group in concert later this summer! Her big birthday surprise was “tickets” to the show! Yay!

However… the only proof I have of the money saved up and spent on special fees to acquire these tickets, as well as the time I waited in a virtual holding tank, is still on my computer. Plus, I have an ancient phone, so I need to purchase a whole new phone to be able to get into this “paperless” event. Then, of course, I need to make sure I download that Wallet app because I have seen firsthand what happens if the internet goes down at an event venue.

I would have much preferred a couple of actual paper tickets sent to me with the name of the group and the date, so I could put them in an envelope to give to my daughter as a gift.

I was able to put together a little surprise package by printing out the announcement and making a little card out of it. I hid it in a box of cheap band goodies and an album, so I turned it into a thing.

She was happy, but I’m old school when it comes to these things. How cool would it have been to have a pair of actual tickets?

Okay, I’m being way too Gen X here, but I just love getting paper concert tickets to an event.

I know there are plenty of arguments for digital tickets and media, from less litter and clutter to the environment to convenience to lower costs. I won’t argue with anyone who holds those opinions, but I am still a big lover of paper tickets… and that wonderful word, “ephemeria.”

I love those paper memories. I love concert tickets to put in frames or scrapbooks, next to the photos I took. I love picking up a couple of pieces of sparkly confetti from a concert canon, big sports event, or a theme park parade and keeping it in a clear Christmas ornament or little glass display bottle on a shelf.

Now, mind you, I keep a tidy house. I don’t like clutter or disorganization, but I love a good pamphlet in a souvenir book. Yet, with the popularity of digital, things like entrance passes and tickets are getting harder and harder to find. It’s all just some fancy pixels on the screen — -pixels that are less likely to spark the imagination of a future generation, who might come across a ticket in an old book and say, “Grandma sat that close to the Rolling Stones? Wow!”

The other day, a local radio station went to my daughter’s place of work giving away some tickets to a heavy metal show that evening. They handed her a set of four physical tickets.

She came home with them excited by having a physical promise of something to come. We got to the concert venue that evening, and there were two lines. One was for “paper ticket” holders and the other was for digital tickets. Both were moving at about the same speed, so I guess it’s just a matter of preference.

ticket surprise

Since the “tickets” I gifted my daughter were no more than an email promise, I created a little paper gift surprise. It doesn’t replace actual tickets, but it gives her something to hang onto as a reminder of fun things to come. All images by Lisa Tate
For me, however, I love the old-school souvenirs of paper tickets. When we got home from the concert, I took my own ticket and put it in my music memory book, and both my daughters have theirs on their bulletin boards. They had some postcard announcement posters of the bands in the venue lobby, so we each grabbed one of those to put next to them. We also pocketed some confetti to paste next to it.

You might think this is overkill or silly. For me, though, this is physical evidence of a memory I had with my kids, the youngest of whom is in her teens. I am not going to get a ton of these types of outings as they venture on into their own lives.

And this is why I love little strips of paper, the ephemera of life’s adventures. It may be just a printed name on a ticket or a printed-out flyer from a special event. Sometimes, if I am lucky, a laminated pass of some importance. Yet, it is something to hang onto, like a memory-triggering amulet.

Digital tickets and passes might be great in many ways, as well as digital photos on a phone, but I will always prefer to open up a book or hang a little shadow box in honor of a memory.

I hope in some ways that will always be an option.




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