The 7 steps toward Pinterest nirvana

24 Jun

This month I’ve been planning a first birthday party for my firstborn. As with most first-child experiences, I’m probably way overthinking it, so of course I turned to Pinterest for inspiration. Which can sometimes be dangerous if you’re even slightly type A or insecure. But I made it out alive, and through the endless scrolling, I dare say I have made peace with Pinterest. This is a lengthy (yet slightly Buzzfeedy) look at the thought process that has led me to Pinterest nirvana*:

1. Ain’t nobody got time (or money) for that.

The 7 steps toward Pinterest nirvana | Spifftacular.

“Her oral report was phenomenal, but it was the embers of burning francs billowing through the air that earned Quinoa an A+++ on Famous Consumers Day.” Via
My Imaginary Well-Dressed Daughter

When I first scrolled through Pinterest for ideas on my chosen theme, I felt overwhelmed. I found articles featuring parties of the same theme that were beyond elaborately decorated. They had transformed the entire space: an alternate universe completely reigned by The Birthday Party Theme. How could I ever compare? I still use two Rubbermaids for living room side tables. No amount of chevron is going to make up for that. Le sigh.

2. But don’t hate the crafty people.

The 7 steps toward Pinterest nirvana | Spifftacular. That said, I’m no Pinterest hater. I recently saw this article bashing Pinterest-worthy parties and this one criticizing the obsession over capturing perfectly staged memories, and although they have some good points, I don’t like the us-vs.-them approach. I’m sorry that some parents feel guilty or judged for not meeting a certain ideal of craftiness, but that doesn’t mean people who genuinely enjoy crafty endeavors should feel guilty either. And although I agree that we shouldn’t prioritize how things look over authentic experiences (more on that in a minute), that doesn’t mean that memories that happen to involve adorable crafts aren’t authentic.

I thought of my mom, who threw tons of creative, festive parties before the age of Pinterest. I have fond memories of the crafty aspects of those parties: my friends bedecked in chef’s hats and aprons for my cooking birthday party, the cake decorated with a popsicle-stick picket fence for my garden birthday party, and the sweet Lego-brick cake for my brother’s Lego birthday party.

My mom had a knack for creativity and cuteness, and she masterminded cool kid parties not because she was trying to impress anyone, but because she enjoyed doing it. And she always made sure to involve me, so it was an opportunity to create something together, and today I’m grateful she passed that joy of creativity on to me.

I don’t throw extravagant parties, but I consider myself pretty crafty. I was the kid that would rather spend time creating, say, a dollhouse out of recycled materials than playing outside. I was also the kid who toted a glue gun just about everywhere I went (how did I have friends??). If it wasn’t for obsessive-compulsive late-night crafting, I wouldn’t have met my husband (but that’s a story for another day). So, I am a firm defender of earnest, ambitious crafting endeavors.

3. Repeat after me: It’s curated.

The 7 steps toward Pinterest nirvana | Spifftacular.

Photo illustration by me. Original image via

The key to not getting depressed by Pinterest and other social media is to remember that everything is highly curated. I know my online self is decidedly more together than my face-to-face, 24/7 self. We are viewing only a small, carefully presented piece of someone’s life. Sometimes those pieces paint a picture of an unattainably beautiful life. But we all have problems. Those problems don’t need to play a starring role on social media, although I do appreciate it when people are candid (especially like this). It’s just helpful to keep in mind that behind every “perfect” pin is a real person with her own mix of triumphs and talents, challenges and anxieties.

4. Photograph less, experience more.

The 7 steps toward Pinterest nirvana | Spifftacular. One point I agreed with in the second article mentioned above is that we can become so preoccupied with capturing a memory (and then sharing it on social media) that we fail to actually enjoy the moment. In a fascinating series from NPR about photography and memory, one story cited research showing that we actually remember fewer details about the things we photograph. As a source in the article says, photos can be “rich retrieval clues,” but photographs are not memories. So although I hope to catch a video of my little guy demolishing his first cupcake, I’ll try to spend more time enjoying the day than trying to catalog every moment to post on Facebook. (There’s also this NPR story about how parents absorbed with their smartphones have a heartbreaking effect on their kids–seriously, put down the smartphone, people!)

5. To thine own self be true.

After spending awhile on Pinterest, I start to get irritated by the stream of images cluttered with my pet peeves: superfluously outfitted “tablescapes”, sloppily typeset posters, and any variation of keep-calm-and-carry-on. Pass.

Everything about this makes me want to cringe. Image via  Turn Up Gear

NOOOOO. So many things wrong here. Image via
Turn Up Gear

Just because it’s on Pinterest doesn’t mean it’s awesome or that it’s right for you. I know my style and my strengths and weaknesses, so I say yes to some crazy craft projects, no to elaborate or labor-intensive recipes. For our upcoming party, there will be several frozen foods on the menu. And that’s OK.

6. Reminisce about pre-Pinterest pinning.

The 7 steps toward Pinterest nirvana | Spifftacular.

Image via
Sarah London

As I said, my mom was crafty and cool before there was Pinterest. I remember we would both scour issues of Family Fun magazine for project ideas, and sometimes we would even go on model-home tours just to get some home-decorating ideas (like hot-gluing silk flowers all over a lampshade!). She had a drawer full of file folders with categorized ideas for holidays, parties, gifts, and other projects. I asked my mom about how she felt about the old-school files compared to Pinterest, and she reassured me she is definitely a Pinterest fan–she loves the ready access to ideas and inspiration. She said it does seem like moms today feel more pressure to have “Pinterest-worthy” homes and lives, but that we should remember it’s just a tool.

My mom also told me about her grandma’s version of Pinterest: “She had a scrapbook which was filled with clippings of various things, but a lot of them were poems that she liked. I think that was a popular thing of the day. I feel like there’s something inherently satisfying about preserving things, whether it’s ideas or pictures or whatever, and maybe it’s just part of our DNA.”

7. Stop pinning, start doing.

I recalled this talk from a few years ago; I love President Uchtdorf’s insights on creativity:

Once I stepped away from the screen and started working on my own projects, I stopped worrying about what some stranger on the Internet had accomplished and learned to love what I was accomplishing–I felt the thrill, the satisfaction, of creation.


* I’m using the term “nirvana” generically here–I really hope this isn’t offensive to those of the Buddhist persuasion.

The 7 steps toward Pinterest nirvana | Spifftacular.


One Response to “The 7 steps toward Pinterest nirvana”


  1. A Fantastic Mr. Fox birthday party | spifftacular. - July 1, 2014

    […] am a crazy crafter, emphasis on the crazy.” I found an idea on Pinterest (and ye all know how I feel about Pinterest now) for a pin-the-tail-on-the-fox game, which is perfect since Mr. Fox does indeed lose his tail […]

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