Friday, August 21, 2015

Our Birthday Card Was on Sprout! [Here's What We Did]

Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links.
So, we're guilty of leaving something on for background noise during the day.  Whether its Pandora or the television, typically something is on (albeit at a low volume; we don't just sit in front of it all day!).  Something we stumbled upon that our son just absolutely loves is Sprout.  I'm sure a good bit of you already know about this magical channel, but its fairly new to us.  Its become our go-to for those 15-30 minutes I need to prep and cook breakfast, lunch, or dinner during the week, and it works out as a great balance for screen time for our toddler.  Not too much, not too little.  It goes beyond just toddler shows, though; they truly engage your child (not just zombify them in front of a screen) and our son loves to play along with the co-hosts' different gigs.  The different bed time songs are some of his favorite lullabies, and he can't brush his teeth without a few renditions of the tooth brush song.  Its great, we love it.  So, naturally when we learned they celebrate your child's birthday right there on Sprout, I just knew we had to give it a shot.   

(FYI, there will not even be an attempted professional staging of pictures for this post. It was a very last minute 'hey, this would be a fun post!' idea as I was literally grabbing my purse, stuffing the poster into the shipping package, and running out the door.)

We try to do at least one 'real' craft a day (beyond just coloring or painting), so we typically have a lot of supplies already.  Plus, one of our bedrooms is my craft room. Because I'm a craft hoarder.  And because my husband is my enabler. So, you know, that helps -wink-. But, if you want a realistic cost estimate for our poster below and to estimate what yours will cost if you reproduced something similar from scratch, here's a price list:

Poster Board - Dollar Tree $1
PomPoms - Dollar Tree $1
Letters -  Dollar General Alphabet letters (2 packs; 6 full sets) $3
Pictures - Walmart (1-hour; much cheaper option if you have a week to wait for them) $4
Glitter stars - Walmart (red, yellow, blue) $4
Glitter scrapbook paper - Hobby Lobby (came from theme sets)  so like, $.50 for 4 sheets individually
Glue Dots 3-D embellishment - Hobby Lobby $3 (scrapbook section)
Purple glue stick - Walmart $0.25 (woo back to school sale!) 
Construction paper - Walmart $.25
Shipping package - Walmart $2
Shipping - USPS $4
Total: roughly $23

But, we all know that's ridiculous. Most of these things go on sale or clearance throughout the year for $.25 or less (especially if you go to Target, we don't have one anymore -sobs-), so I would consider that $23 a fee for procrastinators who want less stress. Its like a convenience fee.
Keep in mind, most of that was already in my stockpile.  Because I'm a hoarder and pass up Target clearance. The only things I actually had to buy for the project was the poster board, the shipping package, and the shipping itself ($7) so use what you have on hand to save save save!

Once everything was gathered, printed, and ordered/picked up, it was time to work on our project!  Here's some tips I learned along the way, as well as from other bloggers:

1.  Engage your child in the project
 Like, seriously...include your child! Yes, more than a few things were 'messed up' with curious and sticky toddler fingers while we were creating our birthday card, but it is for them after all.  Talk to them about what each item is and what its for.  Let them glue the letters on. Trust me, the glue will disappear (for the most part!). Talk about their favorite characters or let them pick out what they want on the board.  Our son colored-in some of his favorite characters and was so proud when he saw them on the board. It doesn't have to make sense or coordinate; Sprout is so well in-tuned with toddler behavior and encourage their individuality and unique personalities.  I promise you, they'll love it! Sure, those awesome over-the-top cards are pretty neat, but the ones you do together are so much more memorable.

2.  Add their favorite Sprout characters.
Let the hosts know why your child likes Sprout so much.  Pick out a few of their favorite characters and let them color them in.  Not only is it something Sprout likes for the cards they do select for special birthday songs, but its another thing to get your child excited about. While you don't have to restrict it to Sprout-only characters, it is going on Sprout TV, so it would be nice to include one.

3. Be wary of card/poster size.
Obviously you want something big and bold so its actually viewable on television, but you have to consider how you're going to mail it there to.  We folded the average poster board in half and still had to fold it in half once more to get it into the package to ship.  We included some tape in case anything fell off from the trip as a result, but you don't want it a crinkly ole mess after you worked so hard on it.  
UPDATE: Ours looked fantastic on the show, even though it was folded again to fit in the package, and then dive-bombed four times at the Post Office after I told our son to be very careful with it. I did write 'please be careful, fragile poster!' on the package to encourage the lovely postal workers to be gentle, but toddlers can't read, and so the two probably negated each other.

4. Plan a good month out in advance of the actual birth date.
They say ship a minimal two weeks prior on their page, but lets be honest: it'll probably sit there, you blank-staring at it, for at least two weeks before creativity takes you by the reigns and you tear into it. I know that's what happened with us! We shipped it (embarrassingly) late at only 15 days before his birthday and it'll be in-hand at their P.O. box only 11 days before his birthday.  Wouldn't be too stressful if you didn't consider this is a nation-wide television program that runs all day long.  There's millions of viewers.  Millions. There's so many birthdays and cards they have to sift through daily that the sooner you get it in, the better.

5. Get extras.
Whether its poster boards, pictures, or coloring pages, extras are super awesome to have.  Since our toddler helped us, more than a couple pictures were messed up by the stars. You see, apparently you can't just take the stars off the face in the picture.  You just can't.  Once they're down, they're down.  They become one with the picture.  So, it was a huge stress-relief to have backup pictures to just tape right on top :)

Don't overlook that! You will not see your card on television without it, period.  No matter how pretty or sweet or how many heart strings it pulls, it ain't getting on there. Nada. So, print it off and tape that sucker right there on the back, SIGNED, before you ship it off and realize you completely forgot it in the printer paper tray.  THIS HAPPENS A LOT. So, do it now. Luckily the address is right there on the form, too.

7.  Say thank you.
They have millions of viewers, with likely hundreds trying to have their card shown probably every day.  I'm sure its an incredibly stressful job and no one wants to break any children's hearts, so (even if you don't get on), send a little thank you and remind those magical souls behind the scenes how much we appreciate them and their hard work at keeping Sprout rolling.  I can't remember my exact words, but it was something along the lines of:
 'Thank you all for all that you do. We truly understand that not everyone's card can be shown, and singing along with the Birthday Song will be more than enough for our son.  We know your job is probably more stressful than we will ever know, so we just wanted you to know how much we appreciate all of you for bringing Sprout TV into our home.  Thank you!' 
And we sincerely meant it. There's a great saying that everyone you meet is fighting a battle you don't know, and I feel like appreciation is something that's not expressed enough nowadays. Its all gimme gimme gimme. Well, not every one's getting on, and someone's child's heart is going to be broken, and they have to do this every. single. day. I doubt they hear thank you enough for what they do.  Say thank you, but for the love of Sprout don't do one of those guilt-trippy thank yous along the lines of 'Thank you SO MUCH for putting our child's birthday card on TV! They worked SO HARD on it and you've just made them SO HAPPY!'. 

It was also a great opportunity to use any stationary that our son has 'outgrown', like the coordinating thank you cards we got with his first birthday invites from Tiny Prints (he just turned three LOL).  They don't know any different, right? We love stationary and always have a lot on hand, but if you're wanting to start a stock of thank yous we highly recommend Tiny Prints, Minted, and Shutterfly.  Each have great coordinating designs for the front and back of their cards, too. Tiny Prints just rolled out with some really fun, color-in thank you cards and stationary for children if you have kiddos who adore coloring.  We love Minted for their fun shapes and high-quality paper; if you're wanting something a little more budget-friendly, though, Shutterfly has a wide range of stationary and are always offering promos for 40%, 50% or 10 free cards (so make sure to sign up for their emails). Not going to lie, we had a little bit of annoyance with Shutterfly and their customer service recently, but they corrected the issue and we're going to honestly continue using them.  Companies get busy, so if you ever have a problem, don't hesitate to contact them on any of their social media platforms.  That's basically how we all communicate nowadays, anyways.

***If you would like any of the following discounts, leave your name and email in the comments below (as emailname at server dot com; don't use @ or '.com') and I'll send it out to you! Its a unique code and can only be used once***
Tiny Prints: $20 off your order 
Shutterfly: 101 free prints  

So, there you have it! My husband swears I'm the most organized, disorganized person you'll ever meet, so I'm not even going to pretend like I have everything under control.  I winged it, used my best judgment, and gave myself grace. We were the first birthday card read which was super awesome, because we had a million errands to run that day and I was worried I would have to dig through a day's worth of DVR to maybe or maybe not find it.  From what I saw, it runs during the Sunnyside Up Show (and then repeats throughout the day.  If you don't want to risk missing it, record the whole day and fast forward through them. They don't notify you on whether you'll be on, what time, etc) which is from 8-11AM CST for us. 
Best of luck!  

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

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