Look, I'm not above bribery. It's one of my tricks I pull out when I've got a grumpy little subject. But let me just say this; ALL BRIBES ARE NOT CREATED EQUALLY. Sometimes bribes are a necessity. Especially if the shoot happens to overlap or fall during a time when eating or sleeping is on the agenda. Or in like 85% of cases - the dreaded car nap before the shoot. You get to the location only to look back and your sweet, little tot has nodded off and spends the first portion of the shoot trying to wake up while some rando lady is pointing a giant camera in your face and telling you all about lady bugs and fairies and you just want to get back in your carseat and pretend this whole thing is a dream.
And with that being the case, let me show you my top do's and top don'ts of bribing your kids for pictures.
Lets's start with my fav's, shall we?:
- Smarties: These magical little babies are sugary enough to be tasty, small enough to hide in hands, cheeks, pockets, and the real MVP of the show - COLORLESS
- Mini Marshmallows: Once again, bringing in that home run with colorless! No amount of drooling will produce a color from these bad boys and no staining of faces, teeth, clothes, etc. Make sure to get the mini's though, you want something fast and easy to eat with minimal opportunity for multiple bites.
- Fruit Snacks: And the crowd pleaser, the fail proof: fruit snacks. I am picky with which brand though - the brand can make or break it. While the character ones are cheap and fun (who doesn't want to eat a little Olaf or Mickey Mouse?) They are realllly chewy and can get stuck to teeth, become stringy if pulled apart, and end up stuck to hair and outfits. My go to weapon of choice is Welch's. They are really easy to eat, relatively colorless and do a good job at staying in mouths.
Now let's bring it home with my top DON'TS
- Chocolate ANYTHING. Doesn't matter how fast you think your kids will gobble it up, they will get chocolate somewhere. Be it hands, mouth, you, etc. Not to mention, if your kids are in the drooling stages, they will draw out the chocolate mess for as long as they can. Don't think you can get away with tootsie rolls either - the bigger kids may be able to get away without drooling, but it'll get stuck in teeth!
- Suckers/Dum Dums: This one always takes people by surprise, but let's break it down. We don't want anything colorful that could and will stain mouths - but lets say you thought that through enough to pick out the colorless ones. But here's the thing, have you ever tried to take away a sucker from a kid who is already grumpy about doing something they don't want? Ya, worse than before you gave them the sucker. So now you're left with a ball size lump in their cheeks and a white stick hanging out of their mouth that will be near impossible to photoshop out if you don't have another picture where they are sucker free (not to mention $$)
- Drink pouches, yogurts, anything that has large packaging that can't be concealed quickly: Don't give your kid anything that has to be thrown away or removed from the shot. 9 times out of 10 Mom ends up taking the drink pouch away and is left trying to figure out how to get it back to her bag while everyone looks cute and is cooperating. It just adds stress and you need to be ready for the shutter.
So what's the takeaway? We want something FAST, COLORLESS and DISCRETE. Something that can be given to your kid, eaten quickly with no threat of showing itself or making an appearance again. Also, the promise of a family outing for ice cream afterwards is always a winner.
What about you? What are your favorite bribes to give kids during pictures that work for you? Let me know in the comments!