Adding Extra Disney Magic: Tinker Bell Gifts

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Tinker Bell Gifts
Tinker Bell Gifts

Imagine with me, if you will, a parent’s paradise in Walt Disney World. No, not that one where you ditch the kids and head over to the Adventurers Club at Pleasure Island (RIP). The other one. The one where the kids wake up bright and early, brimming with excitement to start their day. No whining about getting up early for rope drop, no nagging for that $16 autograph pen from the gift shop, and absolutely no fighting between siblings. Sound too good to be true? Maybe. But it certainly doesn’t hurt to aim high! So let’s talk about how Tinker Bell gifts can not only encourage good behavior but also add an extra touch of Disney magic while simultaneously helping you save money on souvenirs.

Note from Tinker Bell
Note from Tinker Bell

What are they?

For those who haven’t heard of them, Tinker Bell gifts are small presents you leave in the room for the kids in your group. They can be left overnight for discovery in the morning (like a Disney version of Santa), or if you can find a way to sneak back into the room without the kids noticing, you can leave them as a surprise for when they return from the parks. Typically, the gifts are accompanied by a note explaining the gift and who gave it.

Though they are called Tinker Bell gifts by most people, if you think the child(ren) in your party would be more excited about a letter from Rey (Star Wars) thanking them for their help with the Resistance than a note from Tinker Bell, then this is the time to get creative. Personally, I like to leave a note that includes four things: a quick mention of the fun from the prior day, an itinerary for the current day, an explanation of the gift, and a reminder to be well behaved. On a recent trip with younger relatives of mine, each note was written by a different character and tied into whatever the kids would be doing at the parks that day.

 

Picking toys

Toys for the gift bags
Toys for the gift bags

Now that we know what they are, let’s talk about putting them together. The first step in coordinating the gifts is deciding on the actual present part. My personal favorites from that recent trip were goggles, sunglasses, pool toys, glow sticks, puzzles, coloring books, stickers, and games. Most kids I know aren’t too thrilled with new clothes as a gift, but sometimes Disney themed t-shirts or pajamas work wonders for getting children excited to dress for the parks or get ready for bed. You could even make or buy mouse ears that represent their favorite character. The key is to prepare useful items that will be fun during the trip and will pack away easily. This is not the time to buy that 3,000 piece Lego set and expect your child to keep it in the box the entire trip because you don’t want to lose any pieces in the hotel.

Shopping for these souvenirs in advance presents a great opportunity to save some cash. Target, Walmart, dollar stores, party stores, Etsy, and even Amazon are just a few of the places you can find inexpensive Disney inspired gifts. For official Disney Parks merchandise, the Disney Store and Shop Disney Parks app offer discounts on occasion as well, making it easy to save money on things you might buy at the parks anyway. You can also save by including some snacks or candies with the gifts. Personally I like to throw Frozen or Star Wars themed fruit snacks into the bag. The kids can munch on that in the parks rather than splurging on an overpriced bag of Goofy’s Candy Co. character gummies. Disney packaged graham crackers, cookies, and other candies also found their way into the gifts at a much lower price than buying them at Walt Disney World.

Wrapping

Once you finish selecting the presents, your next consideration should be gift bags. Like the gifts, the wrapping must fit easily in a suitcase. Depending on the size of the gifts, small white paper lunch bags decorated with Disney characters and the child’s name work well and are relatively inexpensive. When I did this, I drew characters and wrote each child’s name on a bag for each day. You could just as easily purchase a Disney gift bag for each kid and re-use it each day. Another option is to make your bag out of the gift itself. For example, if part of the gift is a Disney beach towel, lay that down, pile the gifts for the day on top, then pull up the ends of the towel to make a bundle and wrap a ribbon around it. A princess purse or pirate pouch could be used in a similar manner to hold any smaller treats. For one last idea, letting the kids decorate their own bags can build anticipation for the trip and give them something to do during some downtime as well. Might as well score that quiet time when you can!

Place t-shirt or towel down flat
Place t-shirt/towel down flat
Set gifts on top
Set gifts on top
Pull edges in and tie with ribbon
Pull edges in and tie with ribbon

Putting it all together

With the presents purchased and the bags prepared, the last thing to do is decide on an order for the gifts and write out the letters. Think about your own family and vacation style and plan accordingly. If swimming is an essential part of your vacation, items like googles or water toys should come early in the trip, so they can be used all week. Games or puzzles can be gifted on resort or relaxation days. Activity books work well for the last morning, so that kids have something to do on the flight or drive home. Once the order and itinerary are finalized, the letters can be created as described above.

Note from Mickey on the last day
Note from Mickey on the last day of the trip

From my recent experience visiting Walt Disney World with children, Tinker Bell gifts were a fun way to get them out of bed each day. While they had a blast at the parks, the immediate promise of something positive and amusing to them was more effective at waking them up than the thought of being at the parks in another hour or two. They made lots of friends at the pool with their toys, so I never once heard an “I’m bored”. And while it didn’t solve all the sibling squabbles, I think it was a great way to keep that reminder to be on their best behavior in the back of their mind. Plus, because they already had snacks and toys at the ready, they didn’t even really ask for much at the parks. We had a great time, and it was a low cost way to add some extra Disney magic to the trip. As much as I’d love to have a personalized gift from Disney Floral and Gifts delivered every day, it’s just not in the budget, and this was a perfect alternative.

Have you tried this with any of the kids in your traveling party? Would you? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

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Liz Mangan

Liz Mangan got her start in the trip planning business at the spry young age of five by color coding her mom’s Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World with highlighters and post-it notes based on what she wanted to see and do on their upcoming trips. Over the last two decades since then, she’s enjoyed spending her spare time helping others plan their Walt Disney World or Universal Orlando Resort vacations.

10 thoughts on “Adding Extra Disney Magic: Tinker Bell Gifts

  • August 24, 2016 at 8:07 am
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    I totally did this on our last trip (3 years ago!). I even wrote about it on my own family blog because I loved it so much! I even went as far as to plan the gifts and notes from the character to coincide with our plans for the day. For example, a note from Up’s Russel for the adventure of departure day (DS’s 1st plane ride) and a visit to Animal Kingdom. There was even a note from Duffy and an EPCOT passport for our EPCOT day. I found plenty of gifts from the Dollar Store and clearance sections from other stores. Oh! And that Target $1 Spot is usually full of awesome things! I also purchased pins for trading, which was a big hit with my guy.
    The hardest part of the whole thing was trying to sneak the gift out so it could be found. But I at least had things organized and grouped together to easily pull out!
    If this is something you haven’t done, definitely consider it. It really does start the day off with a bit of extra magic. And, it really helped quell that need for super expensive souvenirs every single day. Yes, we did splurge on a few special things, but I definitely did not hear the “I want that, and that and that…” every 5 seconds!

    Reply
    • August 24, 2016 at 11:10 am
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      Hi Mindy! It was a lot of fun to organize and put together, but you’re definitely right about how the hardest part is sneaking the gift out. I was so worried the kids would find my stash of toys or wake up as I was leaving it by their bed. Everything worked out better than I imagined though, and I’m glad to hear you had such a great experience with it too!

      Reply
  • August 24, 2016 at 9:39 am
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    This is a lovely post and I have certainly made little bags of stuff to entertain my girls with when they were little and we had 9 hour cars trips or little items to keep them entertained when they were toddlers and in lines for rides. My strategy, however, for good behavior was to keep them from getting overtired. We went at their pace and didn’t stay out late, kept a bedtime routine etc. My girls were given a certain dollar amount they could spend on souvenirs and that was it. There’s just something about buying gifts for children every day when they are already being taken to Disney World, eating out, getting ice cream etc. that just doesn’t sit great with me. I understand wanting to promote good behavior but for me I would rather set it as an expectation than feel that I am bribing/asking them for it.

    Reply
    • August 24, 2016 at 11:18 am
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      Thanks for commenting Florida Girl! I completely agree that behavior expectations should be set beforehand. This should not be the soul source. I didn’t see an issue with including a pleasant reminder for the kids, especially with everything else that’s going through their minds on a vacation like this, but I could see why others wouldn’t want to do that. Aside from that, I’d still recommend it as a great way to save money on souvenirs even if you didn’t want to include the bits about staying well behaved. Thanks for the differing perspective 🙂

      Reply
  • August 24, 2016 at 12:50 pm
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    I wonder if Mousekeeping would be willing to help you set some of the gifts out while you’re in the park? We leave a daily tip and it wouldn’t be that much of a stretch to include a note asking them to check a certain drawer and put it on the bed.

    Reply
  • August 24, 2016 at 2:11 pm
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    I love to do this for every trip we take! Did you make the letters yourself?

    Reply
    • August 25, 2016 at 9:11 pm
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      Hi Christine! I did make the letters myself. It was a lot of fun, but you wouldn’t believe how hard some words are to rhyme with others!

      Reply
  • September 3, 2016 at 4:54 pm
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    This is a fun way to spice up a trip with adults as well. My mom, sister and I went to WDW and I did Tinker Bell gifts for everybody. I had some glitter and homemade name cards rather than gift bags, and we each had our own little areas on the dresser where our gifts were left. (We were careful with the glitter, tried to clean up after ourselves, and left a bit extra in tip each day for mousekeeping.) My mom was in on it and we kept the secret from my sister, so she never figured out who Tinker Bell really was! Tink even left me a few surprise gifts during the trip. It made a great trip even more magical for a few grown ups!

    Reply

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