One of my first posts was about making birthday parties more green and as North's birthday is rapidly approaching I thought I'd revisit the theme. Let's face it, parties are potential excuses to create small landfills in your own home. But if you make a few conscious changes to the conventional party you are teaching the children and guests to be kind to the earth they tread on. Here are some suggestions to keep things green and clean:
Make your own invites out of old wrapping paper, magazine cuttings, newspaper and craft supplies. Even better- use www.evite.com and invite friends by personalized email. You can choose from a range of graphics and playlists to go with the invite, view and edit the rsvp list and even create a sign-up list if you are requesting that people bring different items (for example a pot-luck). Best of all it doesn’t cost a thing!
On your invite ask that presents come unwrapped or wrapped in newspaper, old magazines or old children's paintings that are going to be trashed soon anyway.
I know it's not the "done thing" but be specific about what kind of presents are acceptable in your home. This year I made it clear in the invites that presents are not necessary but if guests insist books, wooden toys or art supplies are preferred. I even went as far as writing "No plastic toys please."
Choose the local park or community centre for your event- something that is close by and easily accessible by everyone. If you want to be more adventurous than that make sure the party is outdoors and somewhere the children can explore their natural environment. Animal sanctuaries are a great way to teach children about animals and how we should always treat them with compassion, respect and dignity.
Make your own decorations- use old magazines and newspapers to make your own wall decor to suit your theme.
Instead of using plastic balloons (renowned for their negative impact on the environment), make your own origami balloons with large pieces of old wrapping paper. See here for a visual/verbal step-by-step instructions.
Cutlery, Plates, Glasses and Food
Buy cloth napkins and table cloths (or kid-themed sheet or towel sets that you can transform into table cloths) at your neighbourhood op shop.
Borrow plates, forks and glasses if you don’t have enough. Paper or plastic plates and cutlery are a huge waste of natural resources. If you really feel like you can’t go without- buy the biodegradable kind in advance.
To lessen you carbon footprint and your chances of a heart attack make the celebration a vegetarian one. Make your own healthy snacks and cakes- veggie plates with homemade hummus or yogurt dip and fruit kebabs. For the grand finale make a killer banana or carrot cake topped with cream cheese frosting. Parents will be relieved to pick their children up without the usual birthday party sugar-high.
For party bags give out vegetable or native plant seeds in tiny paper bags for the children to plant in their garden at home. Alternatively, you could donate to oxfamunwrapped and buy a family of farm animals in honour of all the children at your party. Give each child a little print out describing what they gave to a family in need, with a picture of a farm animal for them to colour in.
When all else fails, recycle recycle recycle!!! You will inevitably end up with some garbage at the end of the day. Do your best to recycle everything you can. Save wrapping paper, ribbons and decorations for future use. Your event will never be garbage-free (and if it is congratulations and share the wisdom below!) but every little effort makes a big difference.
With every green party you throw you will see where the waste came from and be able to make improvements to the next green bash.
North's Birthday is quickly approaching and I will be sure to share some of the exciting events that occur when we celebrate his 2nd year!