Happy (unlicensed) Birthday

Dora, Thomas, Barney, Hanna Montana, Spiderman, Ironman, Batman, all the Disney princesses, Bob the builder…. The list of licensed characters in our children’s lives is endless.

Marketing is the name of the game and the focus is our kids. As parents, we will spend an enormous amount of money to make sure a birthday party is a complete success in following through on the licensing concept as if Martha Stewart will have a swat team scrutinizing our party theme.

And, if themed party invitations are sent out, you can bet on getting more licensed products as presents in keeping with the theme.

Two major problems here:

1. We’re spending a lot more money on licensed products than you would for plain dishes, plates, invitations, games, etc.
2. You’re telling your child that someone else has come up with a good idea – no need to think creatively since it’s already been done for you.

A recent Wall St. Journal article highlights the problem of trademark infringement. You may be renting the Purple Dinosaur costume, piñata etc. rather than a Barney costume. Though it’s costing you money for the knock-off, it would cost even more for the real (licensed) product. How many of you had to calm down screaming kids because the six foot character that showed up for your party bears little resemblance to the character you hoped would show up.

Simple problem – don’t buy into the marketing of licensed products. You will save tons of money and by taking the cues from your children of what they enjoy, you can create a wonderful party together and will teach your child that his/her ideas matter.

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