Personalized Guest Gifts that Encourage Kids to Return

Do you give guest gifts to kids or families on their first visit?

Guest gifts are something we’ve done at our church for a couple years now.

But recently we were challenged by a podcast to look for areas to not simply meet, but exceed, the expectations of kids and parents.

One of the areas we looked at was the gift we give to guests.

We realized we were meeting expectations, not exceeding them because, at least where we’re located, almost all churches were giving (generic) guest gifts just like us.

If we wanted to exceed expectations, we had to do something more.

So we brainstormed and came up with an idea we felt would exceed expectations by gamifying the gift-giving experience, personalizing the gift, and encouraging a return visit.

A couple added bonuses were that we could also use the idea to encourage our own kids to invite their friends, and we would end up spending around $1 for each gift instead of $5.

Here’s the idea:

We’ve always dreamed of having a claw machine for first-time guests, but claw machines are thousands of dollars, which is well out of our price range.

But when searching online for a full-size claw machine, we came across a miniature toy claw machine on Amazon for $40 (here’s the link).

It isn’t as wow-ing as a full-sized claw machine, but we figured kids would still enjoy it (and now that we have it, they definitely do).

We thought about putting candy in the claw machine and letting guests play until they won something, but we wanted to make it personal on top of fun.

Then we thought, “What if we make it a favorites claw machine?”

So we bought 1″ prize containers on Amazon (50 for about $15) and put little pieces of paper inside each one with favorites candy, snack, drink, or restaurant.

The restaurant is the grand prize (since it’s a $5 gift card), so we only put a few of those in.

Now when a guest family comes, we give each kid a couple tokens for the claw machine.

And we let them play while their parents are filling out registration information.

Then depending on the prize they win (favorite restaurant, snack, candy, or drink), we write their answer down.

Finally, we tell them that when they come back next week, their favorite [blank] will be waiting for them.

To encourage our regular kids to invite,  if they bring a guest, both them AND their friend get to do the claw machine and win a prize.

That’s it; it’s very simple but has been really effective, especially in helping our kids not just invite, but make a great effort to bring, friends.

Here’s a quick recap of the benefits of doing guest gifts like this:

Guests get to play a game in which they’re guaranteed to win a favorite and are encouraged to come back.

It also encourages our regular attendees to invite friends because then they get to do the claw machine as well.

And it ends up exceeding guest kids’ and parents’ expectations while costing less than what we spent on the previous gifts.

How do you exceed the expectations of kids and parents? Leave a comment to help other leaders lead better.

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Brandon Horst

I am passionate about family, especially my amazing wife, Hannah, my daughter, Emery, and my son Tristan. I am also passionate about helping Family Ministry Leaders lead better. I love new ideas, innovation, and collaborating with other leaders to make those ideas and innovations better. I currently serve as the Next Gen Pastor at Centerpointe Church in Fairfax, VA.

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Brandon Horst

I am passionate about family, especially my amazing wife, Hannah, my daughter, Emery, and my son Tristan. I am also passionate about helping Family Ministry Leaders lead better. I love new ideas, innovation, and collaborating with other leaders to make those ideas and innovations better. I currently serve as the Next Gen Pastor at Centerpointe Church in Fairfax, VA.

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