From Errand to Adventure

magnifying-glass.jpgDespite my attempts to simplify and streamline life, I still have plenty of errands to run. And the other week, when I couldn’t rally Laurel to get excited about the pile of returns I needed to take back to Target (tantalizing, I know...), I queried on Twitter, “How can I get Laurel to think an errand to Target this morning will be fun and exciting (other than offering to buy her the entire store)?”
I adore the fluidity of conversation on Twitter; within minutes I had several suggestions, my favorite coming from the lovely Sarah of Real Life. Sarah suggested turning the errand into a scavenger hunt, and the minute I suggested a scavenger hunt to Laurel, lame errand turned into fun adventure. Here’s what I did to keep the outing budget friendly, fun, and functional:

  • Organized pile of returns; most of it was from an online order so I printed the return receipt online so we could breeze through the lame errand part of the trip.

  • Engaged Laurel to help me think up 5 scavenger hunt items. I found it effective to toss out a bunch of inexpensive ideas, from which she could choose what appealed instead of having her think of random (possibly more expensive) items that we might disagree over (e.g., DVDs, large toys, etc.). I also should say that I have a strong distaste for tchotchke so I encouraged usable items along the way.

  • On a sheet of paper I listed the scavenger hunt items plus accompanying check boxes. Laurel identified four items she wanted to look for -- window jellies, a new set of hair barrettes, a maze book, and a water play item. She couldn’t decide on a 5th item so I left that as an empty “free choice” spot where she could pick something on the fly.

  • Once we arrived at Target, we took care of the returns first while we both were fresh and full of energy. With the pre-printed receipt and capable customer service, it was super fast.

  • We then proceeded through the store to find Laurel’s items (I recommend starting at the $1 bins first).

  • As we wandered the store looking for Laurel’s items, I scooped up items off my list as well. Laurel checked off each item as she found them and filled her free choice spot with a story book. All told, her items (stretch play worms subbed for unavailable window jellies, beaded hair elastics subbed for barrettes, maze book, water balloons, and picture book) amounted to about $12. Not bad!

    Though errands are a necessity of life, I never like the feeling that I'm dragging Laurel along on them. So I try as much as possible to make errands more fun while not breaking the bank. Thanks again Sarah for the scavenger hunt inspiration! (See also, the Budget Fashionista Scavenger Hunt, which I remembered while crafting this post.)

    Image credit: Christine Koh, Posh Peacock