Whether you are planning a backyard barbecue or even if it’s off campus, there are many ways to “green” your children’s birthday parties. My boys just turned three. So I was determined to test out how green I could go with their first “real” birthday party. I was hoping for a backyard barbecue but it happened to be the same day we had our last snowstorm. I do want to share with you some easy ways to be eco conscious and still have a great celebration. The main objectives are to not buy a lot of “stuff”, create minimal waste, reuse whenever possible and buy eco friendly items. Remember your kids don’t need much for the birthday celebration. I asked mine what they wanted for their birthday and received the best answer. “A birthday hat and birthday cake.” There were no requests for toys. I wish it could only stay this simple.
I am going to start with food. This is not a big surprise since that is where my mind is most of the time. I made some yummy cupcakes with organic ingredients. I can’t take all the credit though. I found the best recipe for cupcakes in the Magnolia Bakery cookbook, the world famous bakery in NYC. I am telling you these alone are worth buying the cookbook. I made them once and Jen loved them so much she tried to go when in New York, but the line was outrageous. Oh, and the banana pudding is out of this world. Okay, I am getting a little side tracked. So my reason for making cupcakes was that I would not need utensils/forks as I would if I had a cake. The boys still had candles in their cupcakes so not a big deal. Pizza, hamburgers and hotdogs are a no utensil meal option as well. I do not use paper plates but I didn’t have enough “real” plates for everyone. Then I found these awesome wood birch plates at World Market. They were $4.99 for a pack of 4. This was an awesome deal. They are lightweight and reusable! I thought they would be perfect for reuse at those backyard barbecues that we will have this summer. There is another option called Bambu. You can also find these at World Market. They are plates made from bamboo but are for single use only. They will decompose outside within months. I really liked this product but it was about the same price as the birch plates. Therefore, I went with the birch so I could reuse for another time. You can find biodegradable cups, plates and utensils online as well. I had bought some material for cloth napkins for the kids. I have to be honest; I just couldn’t find the time to get it together. So I cheated and used paper napkins. The napkins were made from recycled paper by Green Forest. I can live with that. It’s also a good idea to use a real tablecloth versus the plastic ones you will throw away.
Now for the real scoop on my favorite site for parties! You must check out Stubby Pencil Studio. I love the site and the products. I placed an order online but needed to speak with someone in person. I called and viola! Kate answers. Kate is a gem. She is a mother of twins as well and is SO helpful. She has started this business herself with the best intentions in mind. She has a huge variety of eco friendly art supplies and products. She also carries some really cool wood toys and classic, old school games/toys. This is the perfect place to order party favors, art supplies and stationary. This was a no brainer for me since I was trying to limit plastic, etc. from the equation. I purchased the “Made By Me” kits as party favors along with Yummy Earth lollipops and Smencils. These are so much fun. The Made By Me kits are wood cars, trucks and trains the kids can put together and then decorate them. You can use crayons, markers, stickers or whatever works best for you. Then the kids have a cool little vehicle to push around at home. I also love the Smencils. These pencils come in a variety of scents, such as root beer, watermelon, chocolate and many more. She also carries Prang crayons and Crayon Rocks. I ordered the wink ‘n curtsy personalized stationary which uses recycled paper. They even have stationary for twins. You personalize it by child’s name, hair color, skin tone and accessory color. These are too cute! I also ordered the “cool boy” birthday banner. It is adorable and reusable for years to come. This is the only thing I purchased for decorations. It is so fun that Kate even suggested that I hang it their room for decoration throughout the year. Speaking of decorations, if you are going to purchase balloons make sure they are latex balloons not Mylar balloons. If your order totals over $100 then you get a free Enviro Sak reusable bag. Love this bag….I feel more hip than with my other bags. 🙂 Then to top it off she sent the boys birthday gifts! Each of them received a box of Ecology washable markers. Oh, and I recommend sending Evites. It will save paper and save you money!
Gifts….. You can state “no gifts please” in the Evite, give to a charity or even ask the child to bring an unwrapped gently used book. Then all the kids basically have a book swap. If someone feels the need to wrap then use a reusable bag or the Sunday comics. A popular site is http://www.echoage.com/. Birthday “donations” are made and 40 or 50% goes to a charity of your choice. The other percentage goes toward one gift that is given to the birthday boy or girl by all participants. My sister in law had a birthday party benefiting the Humane Society and everyone brought a bag of dog or cat food. So you see, there are plenty of ideas out there! Another site I would recommend is called Green Planet Parties. They have a great selection and I especially like their reusable gift and favor bags. The “party in a bag” is a convenient solution to the plates and utensil issues. I could go on and on but the big thing to remember is to keep it simple. You would be surprised at how creative you can be while reducing, reusing and recycling. Thanks for reading!
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