by Fancy Free Diva
I have never traveled to Walt Disney World as an adult without children, and on a typical trip, there are at least three or four young ones in tow, ranging in age from thirteen months to eight years on our upcoming trip. Traveling with that many small children in your party can be a strain on your finances, especially in the souvenir department. It can also be a strain on your patience and your sanity. Tinker Bell gifts are one way to mitigate both of those stresses.
Tinker Bell gifts are small gifts that Tinker Bell, that famous fairy, leaves behind in your hotel room for the children (or even for the young at heart) in your party. Oftentimes, Tinker Bell gifts are small Disney-themed presents that you can pre-buy to save on your souvenir purchases when you’re at Walt Disney World, but they can also be used as incentives.
While I’m not usually a big fan of extrinsic motivators, vacation, with its long days and extra stimulation, is an exception. That’s where Tinker Bell gifts can come in handy. For instance: I often tell my daughter that if she makes good choices throughout the day, Tinker Bell will leave her a present. It’s kind of like Santa Claus, with his naughty and nice list, but with more pixie dust. Usually all it takes is a quick reminder that Tinker Bell is watching to rein in any unruly behavior in the parks.
In terms of logistics, you can ship your gifts to Walt Disney World ahead of time, and Disney resorts will hold a package for you until your arrival date.
Tip: Make sure to include your reservation number on your package, and try to time its arrival on Disney property within 5 days of your arrival. Some resorts that are also conference centers will charge an additional fee for package delivery, so check into this beforehand. Also, it is best to ship packages to Disney using a service like UPS or FedEx rather than the USPS (because UPS/FedEx can deliver directly to the resort, whereas the USPS delivers to a post office box in a central processing location).
If you’re thinking about trying to do Tinker Bell gifts for your next trip, here are my top tips:
1. Pre-buy and shop sales
Some of the best places to buy Tinker Bell gifts include the dollar section at your local Target store and the Dollar Store. Both of these places often have Disney-themed items that you can use to add extra magic to your Tinker Bell gift giving, and they’re inexpensive. I also shop at the Disney Store. I can usually only shop online because the nearest Disney Store is in the next state over, a few hours away.
Tip: This may seem like a no brainer, but when I go to disneystore.com, the first thing I do is click on the sale section and arrange the items from the least to the most expensive. That way, the best bargains are always at the top of the list. Then I start adding to my shopping bag.
In order to really make this tip work for you, you have to plan your trip in advance, start shopping early, and have a safe place in your house to store everything away from the prying eyes of the little ones.
Tip: Disney also has several outlet stores that offer discount theme park merchandise. If you’re lucky enough to live close to one of these shops, they’re the perfect places to shop for Tinker Bell gifts!
2. Set a dollar limit
For our upcoming trip to Walt Disney World, I was purchasing Tinker Bell gifts for four little ones, and that can get pricey. I set a dollar limit of approximately $5 per gift, which still added up to $20 per day, multiplied by the 15 days of our stay – yikes! If $20 a day for Disney-themes souvenirs for four children seems like a lot, consider this: one child-size t-shirt on Disney property costs approximately $15, then multiply that by 4. That’s an even bigger yikes!
Having a set limit also helped me make better choices about what to purchase, and it helped me be creative about ways to stretch my dollars.
3. Be Practical
If there are things you know you’ll need for your trip anyway, use them for Tinker Bell gifts. For instance, purchase sunglasses for the first day of your trip. For our upcoming trip, I purchased lanyards for pin trading and small booklets to hold our Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom cards. I also made containers for pressed pennies and filled them with quarters and pennies. These were things we would be doing and using on our trip anyway, but they also make perfect Tinker Bell gifts.
Tip: Hats, Disney-themes ponchos, Disney pajamas, or autograph books and sharpies also make great practical Tinker Bell gifts.
4. Theme your gifts
When I was planning out the Tinker Bell gifts for our upcoming trips, I tried to theme the gifts to our day’s activities. For example, the day we’re going to Fort Wilderness for Mickey’s Backyard BBQ and the Chip ‘N Dale’s Campfire Sing-A-Long, I purchased colorful bandanas, books about horses, and sheriff badges to enhance the theme. Similarly, I appliquéd zebra print Mickey heads onto t-shirts I purchased on sale from our local craft store for one of our Animal Kingdom Days.
Tip: You can purchase appliquéd t-shirts on sites like Etsy, or you can make your own. All you need is a roll of sewable Heat ‘n Bond, some pretty fabric, a sewing machine, and a t-shirt!
5. Add some magic
I always wrap my Tinker Bell gifts and cover them in glitter, like Martha Stewart’s glow-in-the-dark glitter. Sometimes, I’ll also attach a little note from the fairy herself. You can download a free Tinker Bell font (and lots of other cool Disney-themed fonts) here.
These are some of the other Tinker Bell gifts I purchased for our upcoming trips.
I purchased each of the kids a Disney-themed book to read on the airplane, and I found some Disney-themed pool toys and swim goggles for our resort day.
For the first night at our resort, I got each of the little ones some brand new Disney pajamas and slippers (things I would have packed for them anyway).
For more ideas about Tinker Bell gifts, check out this idea from the Disney Diva herself. Happy shopping – and don’t forget the pixie dust!
Note: Some attractions and/or restaurants may not be currently open at this time.