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A Make It Personal Perspective on Birthday Birthdays


Over the last 20 years there has been an increased tendency across all age ranges to significantly push the boat out regarding birthday celebrations and birthday parties.

History of Birthday Parties
The actual history of celebrating birthdays is unclear, but certain writings from history make clear indications. For example, from the book of Genesis:  “And it came to pass the third day, which was PHARAOH'S BIRTHDAY, that he made a feast [BIRTHDAY PARTY] unto all his servants: and he lifted up the head of the chief butler and of the chief baker among his servants. And he restored the chief butler unto his butlership again; and he gave the cup into Pharaoh’s hand: but he hanged the chief baker: as Joseph had interpreted to them” (Genesis 40:20-22).

My guess is that he didn’t have a personalised birthday banner over the table saying Happy Birthday Pharaoh, but it’s interesting that it was an Egyptian King that this was written about. See, they were as advanced in their birthday culture as they were in building pyramids!!

In the UK, most notably in the early 1800s, well-to-do and affluent Victorians pounced on the opportunity to showcase their wealth by holding a bizarre range of social events around their children’s birthdates. This was not only to celebrate the special occasion but also to instruct in etiquette. Party games were all constructed around the process of adopting the correct etiquette and executing the appropriate social behaviour. The outcome of these events was to nurture children’s upper class manners, very important in privileged society. Don’t worry, there was still cake and fun, but the good old “Happy Birthday to You” song was not sung until its introduction in a musical, around 1934.

The modern Birthday Party as we know it didn’t go main stream until the post-war period, when there generally was a reason to celebrate! In the wake of the appalling times suffered by so many families during World War II, it almost became more of a social stigma if you didn’t have a party, like a sign of neglect!!!!

Most of the common party games that are still played today came about as a result of this period. Money was slight but creativity ran amok: Pin the Tail on the Donkey, Pass the Parcel, Hide and Seek and so on. In the 1950s publications also became available to mothers where they could read up on the correct etiquette and be inspired to create personified themes for each event. Here was when creativity really became rife. The downside, however, well...if your Birthday Party wasn’t as good as the girl’s over the road you seemed to have a stigma attached to you that was hard to shift, hence, enter peer pressure!

Modern Birthday Parties
As our society has moved on, Paid Entertainment has now become the norm for Children’s Party’s below a certain age. Magicians, Balloon Makers and Clown…all have now evolved and have a place in the local parish magazine to promote their un-realised trade. And with this there has been a huge surge in products that support the traditional children’s party, from table cloths to personalised invites from such characters as Fifi and the FlowerTots and Roary The Racing Car……Don’t forget the birthday banners too, where pictures of children can be added with their name and particular birthday too.

We must not forget though that as a society we now share everything. In fact, it was written recently that the current 50+ generation will be the last of its time that will truly cherish and deploy privacy. For everyone else, we are drowned in the world of social media, where sharing every picture and minor milestone in our lives is posted for 100s to see. We are no longer a society that shies away from announcing we have reached a certain decade milestone, and the meteoric rise of themed Music decade parties have slowly impregnated our lives without us blinking an eye.

80s Theme
The themed decade Birthday Banners at Make It Personal have been flying off the shelves. The most popular being the 80s themed personalised birthday banner, where that generation remember Rubik’s Cubes, C90 tapes and the rise of DISCO. There never seems to be a lack of great embarrassing content available to upload and embarrass the main guest of honour. With smart and android technology there are more pictures taken every day than ever before and so are very easy to upload onto personalised gift web sites.

So, what next? In 20 years time will we see X-Factor tribute parties, where the youth of today will be dancing to JLS, One Direction and Olly Murs for their 40th Birthday Party? With personalised banners representing the theme as a shrewd creation of the infamous Simon Cowell and his team at Syco Productions. I don’t think I’m wrong, and only time will tell...

One thing I am sure of is that we as a society will find new and more extravagant ways to celebrate our Birthday’s, our lives, and record our memories and stupid capers by recoding them onto personalised gifs and products. We as an industry just have to make sure we keep up with demand and make sure we are ready for the rise of the One Direction 40th Birthday Party…..now that’s a thought!