When we were planning our vacation I wanted to find something really cheap that the kids could do and/or collect that they could keep to remember our trip. I decided for their age and participation level that collecting Autographs would be fun. Each character has their own special (and very neat!) way of signing their name. Some drew different little pictures for each child. I purchased an autograph book for the kids before hand from the Disney store. They sell the EXACT same ones there but this way I didn't have to think "oh wait, I have to go buy the books before we see Merida" because I already had them ready to go! I love to kind of prank my kids so a lot of what I do is make them think we aren't prepared and then spring them on them.
*Going back to the Disney Store, I think it is well worth mentioning. We went at the end of September and before we went all of the summer merchandise was going on clearance. I managed to find a time at the Disney Store online where they had an additional 20% off clearance and free shipping on $75.00 or more. With that sale I purchased their personalized mouse ears, Autograph books, two tervis type cups for the kiddos AND most of my souveniers! Say what? That's right folks, a lot of the souveniers I gave to people had actually been purchased online. (If you are family avert your eyes and forget you ever saw this!) But it saved us soooo much money and time and energy. I didn't have to scour every store looking for things to buy because most of them I already had. (I did buy some souveniers there though).
Anyway, another cheap thing I did was that I decorated our car. Yep, I was the crazy lady. I bought some of those wall decal sticker letters from the Dollar Tree and souped up the back of our ride. I didn't even tell Nick I was doing it because I knew he would completely object...and the look he gave me when he saw them for the first time told me I was right. But the fact is that the kids LOVED it and whether he will admit it or not, it made it a lot easier to find our car in the sea of them. Win, win!
Another cheap thing I did to make our trip special was to print off invitations to our Character meals.
Anyway, I printed off my stack of invitations (I think I made them for four of our meals). I stuck them in our travel folder. I would put it by the door to look like it had been slid under and then would pound on the door when the kiddos weren't looking, to seem as though a character were dropping it off.
The kids LOVED it! This is still the one thing they talk about is how Winnie the Pooh brought them an invitation. Wow, it is amazing what they love; so, so cute! And just a tip, in the morning, this was definitely the ticket to getting the little ones out of bed! After the first invitation, when each one came they would throw open the door to our hotel room and try to see Pooh or Cinderella's footman scampering away. Can you believe they never saw them in the hall?
If you want some invitations of your own try googling "Printable invitation to ...
I then emptied it out (a good car snack was these little guys mixed in with some Almonds) and stacked a pattern of 2 quarters and 1 penny. Shiny pennies work best, folks :). Anywho, by stacking them this way when we were at a penny machine I could just open it up and take out one set of coins and be ready to go. Huge time saver and sanity saver. Since we had everything charged to our rooms with key to the world cards we didn't have change that we would have been able to use for the machines.