Hosting an Earth-Friendly Birthday Party
By Sara Snow
The typical kid’s birthday party, albeit a joyous occasion, is enough to make any eco-mom cringe with its unhealthy treats, paper cups and plates, disposable gift-wrapping and often near-disposable gifts. But, it’s a tried and true process and the thought of changing it up can be overwhelming.
Before you sign up for more of the same, though, hosting an earth-friendly birthday can be much easier than you think. All it takes is a willingness to think outside of the box and a little creativity.
The different types of green invitations available these days are endless. Choose styles that are made from recycled paper, are seeded to be re-planted, or are tree-free (think Evite). Go a step further by making your own using recycled paper and other elements.
Do without the plastic tablecloths, cups, utensils, and plates and opt instead for reusable glassware and a fabric tablecloth that can be washed and used again. If you’re worried about ruining your good linens simply use a colorful bed sheet or shower curtain. Paper balloons are a great eco-friendly substitute for the traditional latex ones.
The snacks and cake
Choosing healthier versions of your favorite party foods can make your birthday bash a total hit, or a big miss. Look for whole grain chips and air popped popcorn (maybe rent a movie theater style popper for ambience and fun). Freeze your own fruit popsicles and slightly adjust standard recipes to make them healthier. Substitute applesauce or prune puree for oil and butter in baked goods like brownies and cakes (you may need to cut out 1-2 teaspoons of the liquid ingredients). My favorite carob birthday cake recipe has stood the test of time. It was made for me as a kid and is the same one I made for my daughter when she turned one earlier this summer.
A fun way to avoid the “disposable” party is to kindly ask guests to bring an unwrapped, gently used toy from their own home. Your birthday boy won’t likely know the difference. Generally, though, the feeling is that our kids already have enough so these gifts can be donated to a local women’s shelter or church. A themed party based on your organization of choice is a great way to get guests excited to give back.
Put it all together
Sometimes all it takes is a little outside of the box thinking. Start with what organization you want to benefit and build from there. For example, one green mom threw her son a Humane Society themed party. All of the kids came dressed as their favorite dog, brought something for the organization instead of a gift, and ate fun foods like homemade puppy chow. By using healthy ingredients in the foods and opting for reusable place settings, she was amazed at how little waste the party generated.
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