I have young kids. They are really in that "I want it" stage and all the wonderful things at Disney can be overload. I found the best way to reduce this is to allow each child ONE toy or item to take home. Last trip my son picked a Buzz Lightyear claw (previous year he picked a keychain) and my daughter picked a $8.00 Mickey. They know they can only have one item and save their "I wants" for something they really love. The rest of the trip I look for free souvenirs or smaller ones. I try to tell my kids that the trip itself is a huge present and I won't buy them everything they want. I'm trying to find that balance of appreciating what they have but also giving them a treat. It's hard, and however you choose to do gifts or souvenirs is your way and perfect. I like to go home with not alot of extra weight in the bag or tons of useless "junk" they won't play with a week later.
For those that do choose to buy a souvenir during your stay there are ways to not break the bank or your luggage. I will mention a couple that are pricey, but require no extra luggage space. Some that are free and/or small. Here are some of the ways I get through the rest of the trip without loading up on toys and other items.
There are two types of parents. Those that face paint and those that do NOT. I am obviously a fan. I recommend washing it off before bedtime (my son's came off with a wipe), and don't get it on super hot days or super cold days. Best part is, your child feels like they got something and there is nothing to bring home with you. Cost is $12 to $15 dollars. Makes for great pictures. And it stays on well once dried. During certain holidays they also offer special seasonal facepainting. My husband and I have also participated, which made a very memorable photo. I know it's in Morocco in Epcot, by Toy Story Land entrance in Hollywood studios. Can anyone give location for MK and AK?
Not sure of the exact name, but you know what I mean. Not only are these smashed pennies with different characters on it small, but they also only cost fifty one cents. Make sure you have change on you. Funny side story, I never keep change on me and in Canada they got rid of pennies. So we had to ask someone for one. Lol. This type of gift can continue from trip to trip. Your child will love the excitement of trying to collect different ones. They can save quarters and pennies before the trip, and even purchase a book that will display them. I have seen machines that take credit cards and they just give you a whole set, you don't even need the pennies.
Instead of waiting in that long meet and greet line, why not do a special meal with Mickey and his friends. If your son or daughter loves certain characters, there is no better way to surprise them. Parents can have a nice sit-down meal and kids will have a great memory. Pricey, but worth the one on one interaction and fun. Plus no added clutter to your home.
If an expensive character meal isn't in the budget then you can always do the character meet and greets and grab some signatures. Make it a daily challenge to see how many they can get. This can also be carried on from trip to trip. Make a task of getting hard to get signatures.
Let me start by saying this can get expensive and it's highly addictive (I should know), but they are small. Pin trading was a great way for my son to practice speaking with other adults as well. Even at 3 years old, he enjoyed walking up to casting members and asking to trade a pin. It also lets the child be in control of what they pick. For $29.99 you get purchase a lanyard with pins on it to trade. You can purchase those in the parks or here before hand.
If your kids don't eat much sugar, or you try to limit their sugar every other week of the year, a dessert or special snack can do the trick. I will allow a dole whip cone or shared Frozen dessert. My kids know that eating like that doesn't happen often, so to them it is a nice treat. My husband always says "we are on vacation".
One great pixie dust experience is getting trading cards. We have been fortunate enough to get cards from monorail drivers, boat drivers and train conductors. So keep your eyes open for that. Kids on their "best behavior" sometimes are lucky enough to get some. Another experience at the Magic Kingdom is Sorcerors of the Magic Kingdom card game. This game can be played throughout the Magic Kingdom. The firehouse on Main Street, the starting point, will give you a pack of cards each day you visit the park. Even if you don't want to play you can take home a set and collect some pretty neat cards. During special events, like MNSSHP, you can collect special themed cards given out only during those events. We have never actually played the game but love getting the cards. My son has a zip lock bag with his pennies and trading cards, and it's his favourite thing.
I am not saving we do all this every trip, but these are things to keep in mind. I would love to hear how you reduce buying massive gifts or tons of take home "stuff".
Please comment below.