You’re heading to Disney. You know that the kids are going to want every single thing they see. And you’re willing to purchase some things, but you don’t want to spend as much on toys as you spent on the rest of the trip. And you certainly don’t have the space to haul piles of stuff home. So, what do you do? Here are a few ideas that may help.
- Decide how much you’re willing/able to spend for “stuff.” Depending on how you like to budget, this might just be souvenirs, or it might include fun things like Pirates’League or Bippity Boppity Boutique.
- Once you’ve decided how much you’re going to spend, decide how you want to spend it. Are you going to give the kids a certain amount each, or go by item count? Do you want to divide it by the day or by park? Do you want to let the kids shop around during your trip and then buy their stuff on the last day? Decide a strategy.
- To stretch your fun dollars, encourage your kids to save ahead of time for things they might want. They can save allowance, gift money, and do extra chores if they’d like to have extra to spend. I’ve found my son to be much more judicious in his purchases if he knows he’s spending his own heard-earned and long-saved money.
- Consider a dollar-for-dollar matching strategy, especially if your kids are older. Older kids/teens might not want every glow toy, stuffed animal, or noise-making thing they see. But what they do want is likely to be more expensive. Think about matching the amount they save. That gives you both some help, and they’ll still have the appreciation of having saved for their own souvenirs.
- Don’t forget to set aside a little money for a special family souvenir. A photo frame or Christmas ornament is a great way to remember your trip as a family!
Once you decide on your souvenir spending strategy, tell your kids what it is. Then tell them again. And again. Repeat yourself until they can repeat it back to you, probably while they roll their eyes and heavy sigh. But that’s ok. Because once you’re on your trip, they already know what to expect.
For our trip in 2013, our son had just turned six. Chris and I decided we would buy the kids their own (very first!) pair of mouse ears, a surprise gift (up to $50 each), and we would pay for a Jake and the Neverland Pirates package at The Pirates’ League for our son (our daughter was under 3, so she was too young). He would have to purchase anything else he wanted with his own money.
We began planning our trip about six months out. We talked with Caedmon and let him know what the plan was for buying “stuff.” I helped him create a Disney Trip savings envelope. Between his allowance, birthdays, and other gifts, he saved $75 to spend on the trip!
To keep from having to carry cash, but still let him “spend” his money, I created “Disney Dollars” (more on Disney Dollars and FREE download here) to take on the trip. That way, we could put purchases on our KTTW card (Magic Bands were still being tested), but he could still have the experience of paying for them. And it was easier to keep track of how much he’d spent.
Souvenirs don’t have to break the bank or become a fight. Make a budget and a plan, then tell the kids what it is. Help them save, and get ready to watch them figure out what is deserving of their heard-earned money. Enjoy your time at Disney, only coming home with what fits in your budget (and possibly your suitcase)!