Friday, October 24, 2008

Eco-Friendly Kid's Birthday Parties…Do as I Say Not as I Do


The Freen's 4th birthday was last month. He had a party at school, a small celebration at home on the day of his birthday and a party with a friend from school with over 50 of our family and friends. Three parties later I'm thinking we may have over done it a bit, but on the bright side if the economy gets any worse we will be able to trade toys for food this Christmas.

My initial plan was to hold a Cars themed environmentally friendly party. Yes - I see the irony. I planned to make the invitations and decorations, give away eco-friendly favors, serve organic snacks, and play environmentally conscience games. However, the day I handed out our home-made invitations at his school, I found out that I had scheduled the party on the same exact day and time as one of his friends. So instead of rescheduling and having two separate parties we decided to combine them and my plans for an eco-friendly party were quickly forgotten. I justified my decision to go the more traditional Oriental Trading Company route with the fact that we had eliminated the waste of an entire party by combining the two parties. So there I was online at OTC ordering up the little plastic favors that I had promised myself I would not buy knowing that each little toy would interest our guests for the car ride home and then slowly one by one each parent would toss each little piece of junk in the trash when their child wasn't looking.

I had pizza delivered and ordered a cake from the local bakery “Cakes by the Lake”. I asked them to try to combine the Cars and Spider Man theme which they did incredibly well and the cake was delicious.

By the end we wasted a whole lot of paper and plastic and fed and gave the kids a whole lotta junk…regardless of my Sustainable Mom guilt everyone had a blast.

Preceding the decision to combine the parties I did a whole lot of research on how to throw an eco-friendly birthday party and so it doesn’t go to waste…I’d like to share all the great resources I found with you so that you may throw your own eco-friendly birthday party.

Invitations & Thank You Cards

Make your own invitations and thank you cards with a color printer, stickers and pre-made cards available at Michael's, Target, Staples and Amazon.

Michael's has card stock available

Amazon also has a plain stock version, bright multi-colored card stock, and pastels

My Good Greetings Offers a variety of post-consumer recycled options as does Cards Direct.

Disney's Family Fun site offers some printable templates as well.

Decorations

Yellow Label Kids offers wonderful keepsake fabric tablecloths and birthday banners that can be used year after year. While a little pricey they are so nice they can be used for every family member, year after year. By far my favorite find and a great gift option for first birthday's.

Service ware
Recycline offers the preserve everyday collection made from 100% recycled materials.

Eco-products offers compostable cups and service ware.

No matter what you do there is going to be trash Biobag USA offers biodegradable and compostable garbage bags.

Games & Activities

I like the idea of doing something creative. Green Party Goods has unpainted wooden airplanes which would make a great favor/activity.

Disney's Family Fun site offers a number of great ideas and they sort them by age.

Amazing Moms site has some great ideas and The Big List of Birthday Party Ideas has some great examples that can inspire some fun original games and activities.

Food & Beverages

For a race car themed party without any children with nut allergies and I like the idea of this Checkerboard pb&J using organic ingredients of course.

If you have peanut allergies in the group or just would prefer to be safe here are several sandwich ideas and you can use white and wheat bread to create the same effect regardless of what's inside the sandwiches.

The Freen loves Annie's Cheddar Bunnies and they make a great kids finger food.

Disney Family also has a decent site that includes some healthy recipes for kids.

Other's recommend Dr. Sears' book The Healthiest Kid in the Neighborhood for ideas for healthy kinds snacks and meals. I have to admit I don't have it and I prefer to just troll the Internet for recipes than clutter by house with cook books but if you like cook books this one might be right for you.

Goody Bags

I like the idea of using plain crafting paper bags with stickers or even better have your little freen create his own image for his friends.

In addition I like these plastic bag alternatives

Although a little more expensive reusable options include Organic and recycled cotton bags from Ecobags or for older kids Envirosax's Greengrocer series makes a nice favor on it's own. You could also support the Captain Planet Foundation and offer a reusable Captain Planet shopping bag.

Another idea is to offer a reusable gift bag like those offered by Lucky Crow or Lagniappe Gift Bags.

Favors

This is a tough one. I think my favorite option is coloring books and crayons and stickers. Although not inherently eco-friendly they are far better than little plastic figures and kazoos destined for the land fill.

Green Party Goods does have a selections of eco-friendly favors including finger puppets, wooden kazoos and wooden castenets but they would be pretty pricey for a large party and while nice are likley to end up at the bottom of a toy box soon after the children return home.

Because every kids expects a healthy dose of sugar in that bag Yummy Earth offers a great selection of individually wrappped organic treats including lollipops which are a Freen favorite.
Beautiful Sweets sell pre-made cookie favors but you could also make your own.

I hope this is helpful and I welcome you to add any ideas and suggestions you have for eco-friendly kid's parties.

7 comments:

EcoLabel Fundraising said...

Interesting. Prango does make eco-friendly soy crayons. You could make your own coloring books by just printing patterns you find on-line on recycled paper. Great thing is that with the chaos that ultimately ensues with birthday parties for us Moms, you can do this even months in advance to prepare.

Jeanne

Tracey said...

Here are my contributions.

Ask people to use gift bags. Though not 100% environmentally happy, they are reusable. We only use gift bags for all of the gifts we give and reuse the tissue paper over and over again.

Keep an eye out for good sales on $1 items such as puppets and kites. Again, not 100% Earth happy, but each child that walks home with a kite that they will actually USE or a puppet instead of tiny plastic crap will be much happier. They feel as though they got a REAL present instead of garbage. Trust me, my own kids don't really like getting the Oriental Trading company stuff, either.

Games: For the under 8 groups: Duck Duck Goose, Simon Says (they love it when adults lead the group), treasure hunts (with clues), freeze dance, musical chairs... all the classics that require no accessories: only kids!

I have used the same birthday banner for each birthday party since my eldest was 1. BEST $10 I ever spent. Again, it's plastic instead of expensive cloth, but it's better than buying banner after banner. Another idea is to make your own cloth or paper banner... Not hard and more personal. I also had the same tablecloth for 5 or 6 years. A boy themed, generic tablecloth. A little more expensive than the thin plastic ones, but I only had to buy one to use for about 10 parties.

And give yourself a break if you break a few of your own rules. It happens. The main thing is you're trying to make a difference.

Sustainable Mom said...

Thanks Tracey. Great suggestions. Reusing and making your own is a great way to make things more personal and more special!

Sustainable Mom said...

Hi Jeanne

Thanks for the comment. Yes using your own printables is also a great idea for a favor. Can print them on recycled printing paper and you’re all set. I know there are several of resources for those on some of the teacher sites, PBSkids.com and noggin.com. Highlights and scholastic probably have some too.

Have you tried the soy crayons yet? Do you know how they work? I'll have to check those out too. We go through a ton of crayons in our house. Thanks!

Annie said...

What a great post! Thanks for all of the great ideas. I will indeed be using them.

Sustainable Mom said...

Thanks Annie!

I wanted to pull together some additional ideas for Halloween but it is already a bit late at this point.

Huff Post actually had a decent post last week.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/10/17/green-your-halloween-snac_n_134968.html

and Plaent Green has several posts on the topic.

http://planetgreen.discovery.com/green-halloween/

Happy Eco-Fiendly Halloween to all!

William said...

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