My sweet and stubborn baby girl (although she will now emphatically tell you that she is NOT a baby anymore) just turned 3 years old. I love that she has a mid-summer birthday. I love that we can host a few friends over to our backyard and will usually have the weather work with us so we can be outside.
I also love that I can make the party as gentle to the planet as I want to be. Planning an eco-friendly birthday party is not as difficult as it sounds and just takes a little planning. Not everyone will be able to make all of these changes, and certainly not at once, but even one will be a step in the right direction.
Top Ten Ways To Make A Party Green:
1. Have It At Home. Using the outdoors of your backyard (or a park) and your own home as a backdrop for the birthday party allows for a lot more eco-friendly options. You have a more control over how green your party may be, when you get to make all the decisions.
2. Invitations. I love that technology is allowing for more families to choose an eco-friendly and fast option for invitations through free services like Evite and Pingg. They offer a lot of choices in look and you can upload your own designs as well.
If you must send an invitation through snail mail, choose one of the eco-friendly options available. You can let your kids get involved and make your own with scrap paper and/or recycled paper, plus other art supplies you already have at home. There are also lots of wonderful companies making gorgeous invitations using recycled paper, tree-free paper, or plantable paper. Etsy has some amazingly creative handmade invitations that are eco-friendly too.
3. Decorations. The best eco-friendly decorations are ones that are already owned, or can be borrowed. When you think of a theme, think about the types of things that can be used from within your home to decorate. If you are able to use an outdoor space, you can utilize nature’s beauty.
4. Tableware. Reusable, reusable, reusable. Depending on the number of guests you have, you can use your own plates, bowls, glasses, and silverware. Make sure guests keep track of their own dishes and reuse them. If you must use disposable, choose compostable. Even Chinet has the composting seal of approval!
5. Food. Even if you don’t hold the party around a meal time, children are going to be interested in snacks. Keep the food served as healthy, and organic, as possible and avoid all processed snacks whenever possible. Fruit, homemade popcorn, kale chips, and homemade trail mix.
Conventional cakes are full of sugar, fat, and artificial colors. Make a healthier cake by using whole wheat flour, less sugar, substitute applesauce for oil or butter, and skip the artificial food coloring.
6. Games and Activities. Children are creative little beings. Provide activities and games where they can run, play, and use their imaginations.
Themed activities that are eco-friendly can be fun and educational. Garden themes could include kids painting pots, planting seeds, and making flowers out of recycled materials. A musical theme could include kids making instruments out of recycled materials and form a band or go on parade. A nature theme could include a scavenger hunt through the yard or park, some information about the plants and flowers, and flower pressing or leaf prints.
Using crafts, art supplies, and paper that you already have is always fun. Especially if you can have all the kids make a big mural for the birthday child and/or something for everyone to take home with them.
7. Gifts. It is always wonderful when a child decides to ask for donations to the food bank or other charitable organization. This one I believe must come from the heart. I also believe that friends and family can be gently educated on gifts that can be more eco-friendly, fun, and useful for your child: experiences are a favorite, memberships to a local children’s museum, eco-friendly art supplies, and buying from local businesses and handmade artisans.
Gift wrap is another area that can be tricky. Most friends and family won’t mind if you encourage an eco-friendly option: reusable gift bags, recycled gift wrap, recycled art work used as gift wrap, newspaper, or no gift wrap at all! Truly, kids don’t care what the present comes wrapped in.
8. Party Favors. This is one area that has gotten out of control in this country. Plastic goody bags filled with junk trinkets, junk candy, and stuff that ends up in the landfills more often than not are the bane of my existence. I would love to see a movement that allows no party favors at all, but I think I may be outnumbered by small, loud children still. ;)
Book exchanges are a great idea. Have each child bring a new or used book and each gets to take home one.
Green party favors from shops like Green Planet Parties are another good option. Recycled crayons, reusable sandwich and snack bags (which can double as the goody bag), eco-friendly pencils, or YummyEarth organic lollipops are healthier for the kids and healthier for the planet.
The new trend in my area is to go give gift cards in small amounts to the local frozen yogurt or ice cream shop. I love this and I have seen so many kids so excited when they get one of these!
9. Clean Up. This is where you have control over what you are willing to do to reduce the amount of waste. Most parties have leftovers, disposables, and other waste that can be reused, recycled, or composted. Do the work and you will be rewarded in the end. Even better is to get your party guests to help and they may even learn a thing or two.
10. Thank Yous. Using the same eco-friendly option you used for the invitations can be used for the thank you notes. Older children should have more input in how they want to thank their guests. Younger children will be just as happy to have their thank yous sent via Evite.
What are your eco-friendly party tips?
Check in tomorrow when I’ll show you how I used these tips for baby girl’s third birthday.