Birthday parties are an environmental disaster. The wrapping paper, paper plates, cups, napkins, plastic cutlery, toy packaging that have all those zip ties we all curse when trying to open create a heap of trash that just sits in our landfills. Why not try something new this year and use your child’s birthday as an opportunity to teach them about being environmentally friendly? Keep three simple things in mind – reduce, reuse, repurpose and you are well on your way to making your guests green with envy over your hosting abilities! Having a green birthday party allows you and your child to get creative and come up with some new and unique ideas that will set your party apart from all the others and it doesn’t have to cost you a fortune. Here are some tips and ideas that will help you throw a fun green party without spending too much green.
Free websites like E-Vites and Socializr allow you to create and customize your invitations. These sites also include tools on managing your guest lists, sending out party reminders, and even sending out thank you notes. You will need to register for the site and have email addresses for the people you want to invite. It’s that simple and fun and did I mention that it’s FREE!
If you would prefer to mail an invite there are several options to choose from. You can purchase seeded papers, tree free paper, or even recycled papers to print your invitations on. The seeded papers can be planted after receiving and produce a beautiful party favor of flowers.
• GIFT IDEAS
You can always go with the “no presents, just your presence” approach to avoid your child receiving an overload of plastic toys that just can’t be recycled when he/she is done with them. One of my favorite ideas is to request each guest adopt an animal instead of purchasing a toy.
For as little as $25 at www.secure.defenders.org each child will adopt an animal of their choice, receive a certificate, a fact sheet, a stuffed animal replica of the animal they choose to adopt, and a photo. Echoage.com is also a very cool idea for your little ones. Each guest donates as much as they would like to a pot on the website. The child then receives half of the pot to purchase something they would like and the other half goes to a charity of the childs choice.
Amazon.com now has a “green toys” section for the people who are not comfortable with not showing up with a gift in hand.
You can also recommend wooden toys or puzzles and books for great gifts.
• PAPER GOODS/DECORATIONS
Use your own dishes, cutlery, cups to save money and to avoid waste. Want to avoid the clean up? Party City now has an entire selection of eco-friendly patterns and colors to go with whatever theme you have chosen. Plain white Chinet is biodegradable and you can dress up the table with other things so there is still plenty of pizazz and personality.
Use a twin size sheet or piece of fabric that you find on sale for the table covering. Instead of balloons and streamers use flowers or handmade décor out of recycled paper to decorate with.
For some eco-friendly fun, purchase the biodegradable plant pots at any home improvement store. Pick up a packet of seeds and you are ready to go! Each child can plant a flower or two and take it home with them in lieu of a goody bag.
A nature treasure hunt is also fun to coordinate. Provide each child a list of items on recycled paper and let the fun begin. Other ideas include printing coloring pages on recycled paper and providing a small box of earth friendly crayons to each guest.
• GOODIE BAGS
Contact your local plant nursery and ask them if you could come by and pick up the saplings that do not meet their standards. Most of the time the saplings are healthy and grow to be beautiful trees once planted. The nursery will typically let you have the non-standard saplings free of charge. This is a great idea to give to each guest as they leave to reinforce the earth friendly message of your party. It also provides a lasting memory of your child’s party once planted.
If you feel you must absolutely do a goodie bag, try to use felt bags, recycled shopping bags, or other materials that are environmentally friendly. Avoid plastic toys and opt for wooden toys or puzzles as fillers. Oriental trading has some great options and are not too expensive.
The most important thing about throwing a fantastic party – remember to enjoy yourself and have some fun with it. The kids will enjoy spending time together and your child will always remember the effort you put into making sure they had an amazing time, but also doing somethings great for the environment.