Monday, October 4, 2010

Eco-Friendly Birthday Parties

Is it possible to have an eco-friendly birthday party for a child? With balloons, banners, loot bags, presents, paper plates and cups all available for children's birthday parties, going eco-friendly is definitely something that takes time to think and a bit of extra effort.

We've just celebrated our daughter's 3rd birthday party and the question of eco-friendly loot bags has been on my mind for at least a month now. How to give out something that's eco-friendly yet affordable (an ongoing question as most things that won't end up in the landfill within a few weeks of you purchasing them are significantly more expensive than things that do).

What I finally came up with was to give out Itzy Ritzy Snack Happens bags. The bags themselves were the gifts. But, since kids usually expect to get bags with things in them, I was afraid to stop there. I bought a bunch of apples at a local orchard, dried them, and filled the Snack Happens bags with the dried apples. As far as I could tell from the party, my daughter is the only child who didn't actually like the dried apples. Oh well, you can't win them all.

I've created a page on my website that has a few eco-friendly loot bag ideas. With the exception of the soy rock crayons, they are containers which can be filled with food or other eco-friendly ideas. (Note that the Little Bites cups are in sets of 4 so the actual cost per child is $4.75 before taxes.)

As for gifts, we asked guests to bring a donation to the local food bank instead of a gift. I love this idea (which I stole) as, not only does it reduce the number of gifts, it also teaches children about the importance of giving and that there are people in our city that have a lot less than we do. I also gave my daughter a brief explanation about why people would be bringing gifts that weren't for her. I'm still not sure how much of my explanation she really understood as her first question was whether there would be a climbing wall at the food bank. But now she at least knows that a food bank is not a festival and won't (hopefully) expect a festival when we go to drop off the donations.

(As a side note, our daughter will receive a lot of gifts from family members who could never be convinced to do otherwise, so she will definitely not miss out in the present area.)

We also managed to avoid the paper plates, etc. This was a big issue for me (we made people wash their own dishes over our wedding weekend so that we could avoid paper plates then). My mom has this fantastic set of extra plates that we were lucky enough to be able to borrow. Borrowing a few sets of dishes from good friends would also have done the trick.

We did buy a few 'Happy Birthday' signs but those will be taken down carefully and put away for next time.

The one product I haven't found a way to avoid yet is the balloons. My daughter is obsessed with balloons and wouldn't consider a party to be a party without them. Hopefully I'll think of an alternative in time for next year's party...