Pro’s & Con’s of Store Bought vs. Creatively Led Birthday’s

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There are so many ways to approach a child’s birthday and the amount of time and expense you devote to it. Many differing opinions could be presented about how to celebrate a child’s birthday and how much financially should be spent and it seems that birthday traditions are as varied and diverse as we are as a culture. More so, it seems just like with many things, many people seem to feel very strongly that their approach is best. Not unlike with many other topics, we tend to not have healthy debates with ourselves anymore, we just go with what we know, what we’ve always seen demonstrated, what we are comfortable with or what seems on trend. The same can be said for how the average parent approaches their child’s birthday. In today’s culture it’s somewhat of a joke in any number of sitcoms or advertisements one of two parent/child birthday narratives.

A. That parents allow themselves to get so caught up & often overwhelmed in the day to day that they forget birthdays amidst their other obligations and can’t afford a “big to do” on their meager budget. This narrative is fed off the fact that so often we are living in the same hamster wheel as parents and we just do what we’ve always seen done to survive each day and breeze through to the next, right past one big moment after another, stuck in the grind of living paycheck to paycheck thus “celebrating” with a last minute cake, balloons & crepe paper and a handful of sporadic guests.

OR

B. That parents spoil their children rotten with whatever they want, throwing them an over the top celebration creating little narcissistic, ungrateful children. This narrative is fed off of shows and other celebrity/media culture that imply throwing a birthday party for your child over a certain price tag somehow designates the child as ungrateful and the parents as ignorant for wasting money and treating their children like “Princesses” or “Princes”.

I have to say that this seems silly to me that these are the two most common narratives our culture presents considering that the majority of the world lives somewhere in the middle of the financial class and that even though parenting is hard we are not all too overwhelmed by parenting to celebrate our children and put a little bit of time and effort into going the extra mile to do so on even the most meager budget.

I have decided that there is a third narrative that needs pushed and that’s what has inspired this blog series about Kid’s Birthday Party Planning. That third narrative looks like this…

C. That parents are possibly overwhelmed from day to day occasionally, and they may be living paycheck to paycheck and feeling financially strapped, but they cherish their children and are grateful for every year that they get to celebrate and therefore they use the child’s birthday every year as that reminder and reason to celebrate the amazing person they are growing into! They do take a little time to mentally appreciate, take stock and prepare a personalized celebration for their child and their loved ones and they work hard to earn whatever budget they have so they will use it to celebrate the occasion however they see fit. This narrative is off of my personal thoughts and beliefs on this topic as I will outline in one of my Blogs about how Party Planning Pays Off in the Moments and the Memories

 The fact of the matter is, how you choose to celebrate your child’s birthday IS something personal and the details don’t really matter as long as you DO celebrate your child and your accomplishments as a parent every single year you are blessed to do so.  Whether you throw together cake, pizza, balloons and a bunch of your little person’s favorite people with some store bought party supplies or whether you start planning months in advance and make it a bigger deal and a whole family affair doesn’t matter at all. What matters is that you reflect, you celebrate and you create memories.

This pros and cons list is to help you decide, in the season of life you are in, for the party you are currently planning, with the theme you have picked and the budget you are working with whether you should do Store Bought or let your planning be Creatively Led.

Ok so Let’s break down the Pros and Cons of each method:

First I’ll start with Store Bought Approach

Pro’s

– It is easy, just go to the nearest retailer of choice or do an Amazon search & you can have them in no time at all.

– You can find a wide variety of choices, patterns and trademarked character party supplies at your disposal now in stores and on any number of online sources so if you want to do a theme, you can likely find it.

– NO real thinking or creativity necessary, just buy what you need from the available party collection for your chosen pattern or theme.

Con’s

– Without a lucky coincidence of finding the theme or character included in a semi seasonal clearance sale, the store bought products come in smaller increments and they are on the pricier side allowing your expenses to quickly multiply if you start getting into guest quantities above 8-16 total before you consider purchasing prepackaged favors or decorations.

– There is always the chance that one of their friends will have a birthday just before or after your child’s party with the same stuff and it may feel a bit generic.

– The extra supplies and the left over decorations feel like so much of a waste because it’s not like you can put it away for next year, your kid will be onto a new favorite obsession within 6 months. So you pass it forward or throw it out in most cases.

Ok so now I’ll give you the pro’s & cons of a more Creatively Led Approach.

Pro’s

– It can be executed using a lot of the same retailer outlets and with a clear vision and a little planning ahead of time it can be equally as easy. In fact I now consider it easier because taking the extreme level of character images and licensing out of the printed and disposable item allows for left overs to be neatly packed away and stored to be recycled into future party visions. Therefore saving the task of having to acquire some of these same things for future events.

– The chances of your child having a friends birthday with a similar look or feel is unlikely, allowing even the most basic get together to have a unique and special atmosphere for making memories.

– The sky is the limit as far as your choice of theme, style or pattern when you take a more creative approach to the party planning. If you can think it you can create with with a little extra work! Just choose anything, from a book or movie title, to a color or favorite hobby. Even a favorite food or location can become the jumping off point for planning your celebration. Think about what you are celebrating and who you are celebrating and something will come to mind (this is kind of a secondary pro, you can use this choice as a way to highlight the personality of your guest of honor).

– As for the creativity side of things, the Pinterest and blog culture that is amidst us means you don’t really have to be creative at all anymore! Just willing to spend a little time searching ideas and be also willing to try implementing someone else’s idea within your personal skill level & budget…………. AND if you are really against doing it yourself then you can always find yourself a local to you version of me who would be willing to implement the creative & planning portion of your event for expenses and a fee of some sort. (I will talk about this as well as other areas of your life and home that you can delegate for a far more reasonable fee then you would expect in most cases in an upcoming blog series I hope to do this fall 2017 so keep an eye out for it then!)

– As previously mentioned (but worth it’s own point) when you stick with a broader creative approach to your party theme you open the door to a more likely ability to recycle or re-purpose party supplies and leftover paper products and decorations on future events. Instead of having dozens of leftover “Spongebob Squarepants” paper plates and napkins to use and birthday banners with Patrick and Mr. Crabbs on it, you could simply have leftover yellow and blue napkins to pack away in a gallon sized air-tight ziptop bag and stored until the next time you need one of those colors. Instead of the money wasted on a character specific birthday banner you will never hang again you could take a different approach to the sign or handcraft one with an underwater feel being more easily capable of reusing for say a future Mermaid themed birthday or underwater scuba party!

– It can be a memory making experience in the process of planning and creating as well, allowing you to include your children and other willing loved ones in these elements of the party allowing more opportunities to make memories.

now for the Con’s

– It requires a little bit of planning ahead and willingness to spread your to do list for the event out across a few weeks, even months. I will share planning & organizing tools in weeks and months ahead.

– It may require some hands on projects and potentially also some crafts or small construction projects which in turn will require a little bit more of your time but with proper planning and scheduling this doesn’t have to be too challenging of a Con to tackle.

– Once you begin to make the shift to a creatively led approach to your events & celebrations be prepared to unleash a monster in yourself and possibly other members of your family. The memory making will begin to look as it never has before and you will begin to increase in excitement level and will want to continue taking chances in your events to continue creating even more one of a kind memories. Hold on tight! It’s about to get fun by this point!

So now that you have my Pro’s & Con’s you can weigh them against the other details and factors in your life to begin approaching your celebrations appropriately according to your season! Remember it’s not about how much you spend, how many people you invite, how many people can show up or how many handmade features vs. vendors paid went into creating your event. What actually matters is that you so take the time to celebrate the moments and create memories with the ones you love today, because tomorrow is never promised! Go make memories!

As always, thanks or reading!

~Rebecca