Green Birthday Party Ideas
Bags of torn wrapping paper, latex balloons, and pointless, ridiculous party favors that hit the trashcan at the first possible chance. Those are the tell-tale signs of a child’s birthday celebration. But years and years of traditional birthday parties have been less than kind to our little planet, filling landfills with obscene amounts of unnecessary trash. These days, more parents are leaning toward sustainable birthday party practices that lessen the footprint on our environment. For those who haven’t thought of going green before because it seems like too much work, it is much easier than you might suspect.
Ditch the arcade, bowling alley, and movie theater and opt for a backyard barbeque or birthday party at the park. If the weather doesn’t warrant an outdoor celebration, move the party into a family member’s home or get everyone moving at a local skating rink.
Once you’ve found the perfect location, it’s time to send out invitations. Many people are choosing to ditch paper invitations and go the electronic route, sending e-vite invitations instead of traditional paper. But some still prefer sending paper invitations (and who doesn’t love receiving a piece of mail that isn’t a bill). Some invitation companies have broadened their horizons offering recycled paper options. You can even go a step further and find seed paper invites that can be planted after and serve as a constant visual reminder of the party.
When it comes to birthday gifts, write a note on the invitation requesting previously loved books or toys instead of new presents. Ask guests to wrap the gifts in fabric or newspaper, or to forgo the wrapping altogether. If the birthday girl or boy doesn’t want or need anything in particular, ask guests to give a donation to a specific charity or organization. Guests will love the idea of helping a cause that is important to the birthday child. Encourage your party guests to give eco-friendly gifts, items like child size gardening tools (just like mommy and daddies!) or small pots with seeds that the child can plant and watch grow and blossom…these are all great ideas that the child will not only enjoy using but will encourage a greener lifestyle.
Save some green and the environment by skipping catered food and doing it yourself instead (or asking someone you know to do the cooking). Stay away from exotic or unusual foods, to ensure guests are more likely to eat all the party food. Try to get an accurate headcount to minimize the amount of leftover or wasted food. Use your regular cups, plates, and utensils or buy eco-friendly disposable dinnerware. You’ll have more washing to do, but less waste as well. Or you can choose finger foods and minimize the need for additional utensils and washing. Cupcakes are a great option and do not require forks and plates. Reusable silicone cupcake molds are easy to find these days, reducing waste even further. If there are leftovers, give them to someone you know who is elderly, just had surgery, or gave birth recently. The food will not end up in the trash and the recipient will be very grateful.
Contrary to popular belief, children do not need commercialized disposable decorations and tableware in the latest licensed whatever-is-in each year. Fabric comes in a wide variety of styles and can be recycled and used for other items after the party. Take your party prince or princess to a local craft store to help you choose a fabric to be used for tablecloths. Once the party is over, you can wash the fabric and make room décor, clothing, or even pillows out of it. Or you can save the fabric each year and later create a quilt to be given as a wedding gift to your son or daughter on their wedding day. Instead of balloons, hang recycled tissue paper pompoms from the ceiling or recycle previously used decorations you find at a thrift store.
Olivia Nicholas is a busy mom to twin boys. She loves to share her life in the trenches of parenthood with ther moms and dads. She writes about parenting for Storkie.