Last week, I spearheaded our Cub Scout pack’s Blue and Gold banquet.
And I lived to tell the tale.
It was a lot of work, but I had the help of other amazing parents. I also had Pinterest, that bastion of creative links and beauty.
Do you wonder what we did before Pinterest? And even more, before the Internet? The Web has become such a vital part of the event-planning experience. In the good old days, we spent a lot of time thinking up decorations, birthday parties, Blue and Gold centerpiece ideas, handcrafted ornaments and birthday card designs.
These days, it’s hard to find something that hasn’t been done before. In fact, the only time I couldn’t find an idea to use for a birthday/Halloween/holiday was when my son wanted to be Old Faithful for Halloween. That was a Completely Original Idea. We should have copyrighted it, except that in the end we scrapped it. Assembling an Old Faithful costume would have meant coming up with the idea all by myself!
Also, there were the tricky details, like how to shoot steaming water out of my son’s head every 60 minutes.
But beyond Old Faithful, nearly every other idea is at our fingertips. We have, essentially, outsourced our creativity, just as we have outsourced a great deal of our knowledge. (Who memorizes phone numbers anymore? I don’t!) If I’m looking for a paint color, a meal idea, candied fruit, an exercise for my abs, white dresser knobs, quilting or handmade soap ingredients, I can be 99 percent certain of finding these things on Pinterest.
Trouble is, the scope of choice can be overwhelming. A birthday party can no longer be a birthday party unless it has an elaborate snack table with themed treats, hand-stamped gift bags and two hours of jaw-dropping activities. The same high standard applies to Halloween, Christmas and holidays we used to forget about, like St. Patrick’s Day.
Even lunch, the only meal from which parents get a bit of a break (it’s not the most important! Hurray!), now requires sandwiches shaped like airplanes and fruit platters arranged like the alphabet. We hold ourselves to well-lit, air-brushed, Pinterest-worthy standards — a high bar indeed.
For the Blue and Gold, I thought things would be fairly straightforward. After all, I didn't even have to think about color scheme. There was blue, and there was gold. If only wedding planning were this easy!
Plus, these are Cub Scouts we’re talking about. We all know that Cub Scouts care about one thing: the cupcakes.
But once I fell down the Pinterest rabbit hole, I found myself buried in possibility. Campfire centerpieces, balloon arches, visiting Native American warriors in feathered headdresses, cookies shaped like badges, cupcakes shaped like paw prints — pages and pages of lovely possibilities.
After hyperventilating for a day, I gave myself a little reminder. Pinterest, and the Internet in general, was not built in a day. These tools work best as a springboard, a place to get a germ of an idea. They provide the foundation, a colorful base for us to build upon.
If we approach it that way, our creativity is not outsourced, but organized and contained. And in that way, I am enormously grateful for those who create and share in this free marketplace of ideas. It’s incredible and inspiring, really, the collaborative community that happens online. The wealth of resources is something to celebrate, not to sink us into despair.
In the end, I can say with great pride that I kept things simple, simple, simple. We had balloons, campfire centerpieces (assembled by the trusty Webelos) and lots of blue and gold dinnerware. The night was a hit. The kids loved the decorations, the awards and the giant pots of chili.
But no surprise, their favorite part was the paw-print cupcakes. They were delicious, and most certainly Pinterest-worthy.