Birthdays are special. Children rave on about them all year and for us Mums there is nothing more fun than spoiling them when their day finally arrives.
In recent years the green options for children’s parties have improved and now you can find eco alternatives for all the traditional party supplies. Not just plates, cups and cutlery made from natural sources but also decorations, candles, disposable bags and loot bags.
You can use:
• A little bit of nature
• Some creativity
• Good organisation and forward planning.
1) Choose a Theme
Superheroes, fairies, pirates - they can all be ecoed up. Create healthy food to suit the theme. Try and use a natural setting and you and your child's imagination to create the backdrop with cardboard paintings helping to create the appropriate scenes.
Natural themes can include a farmyard, fairy land, jungle party and a treasure hunt.
2) Choose a Venue
If the weather is good hold your event at a local park or playground. Look for places that offer a chance to introduce the kids to nature and that give them space they need to run around.
3) Invitations and Cards
Emailing or smsing your friends your party invitations will help you save on paper.
E-vites, or electronic invitations require you to send a template or custom invitation to your guests' email accounts. www.smilebox.com is a great site to visit.
Simple natural decorations can include flowers, petals or leaves.
Take a trip to your local beach and pick some shells to use as table decorations. Maybe try some pebbles, tumbled stones or crystals. You can use tea lights floating in water or even origami.
Colourful bunting (the most eco is those made from recycled material) is the best type. Latex balloons do biodegrade but must be disposed of properly so as not to pose as a choking hazard to animals.
5) Party Bags and Favours
You can create loot bags from upcycled material or maybe just use a basic brown paper bag with your child’s drawings or paintings on them. You could even turn your child’s paintings from school into paper wrapping for their take home gifts.
Natural gifts are wonderful - tumbled gemstones, walnut boats, finger puppets or gum nut children. Small felt and wooden toys are loved as are crayon rocks.
Small biodegradable peat and wood fibre pots can be put straight into the ground once they arrive home. A great party activity can be to have the children each plant a seed into their own pot.
6) Getting to the Venue
Carpooling is a great way to improve your carbon footprint – but with children in the car – it isn’t always easy. Other alternatives include riding a bike and catching a bus, train or tram.
7) Birthday Candles
The best birthday candles are those made from pure beeswax. Unlike all other waxes they actually improve air quality - and if they drip onto the birthday cake it isn't harmful to them.
8) Party Games
Sack Races (use pillow cases or hessian sacks), What’s The Time Mr Wolf, Doggy, Doggy Where’s Your Bone?, Simon Says, Statues, Hide and Seek, Scavenger Hunt are all imagintive play games - with no need for unnecessary packaging. For more ideas click HERE.
Is there a way to avoid your child being given excessively packaged, battery-powered or short-lived plastic toys?
One good way is by asking friends and family to give a pre-loved toy or book that is in good condition, rather than buying something new. Depending on the toy, homemade gifts often have a much longer-lasting appreciation factor than the latest plastic toy - as they are made with love.
(Research shows children under the age of 10 will often marvel at their plastic toy but come back to the wooden toy as it is closer to nature and they relate to it better as nature is their true origin).
For another inspiring alternative visit Generous Party.
10) Food and cake
Where possible use home made ingredients, next best is to buy fresh, local, organic food to provide at least a few healthy options for guests. Smoothies and fruit skewers are always popular. With some creative presentation, you can also create some very appealing edible "creatures". There are lots of gorgeous kid-friendly recipes online incorporating fresh fruit and vegetables.
If possible, use your own cutlery and crockery or encourage party guests to bring some for themselves. If you do need to use disposable tableware you are no longer bound to using traditional plastic tableware with a great variety of online eco tableware.
12) Disposable Bag
When packing up your party use an eco disposable bag - believe it or not you can get disposable bags made from cornstarch and they are 100% compostable. So everything from the party can go to grow your garden – knowing your child’s fun helped grow the vegies on your table is even more worthwhile.
*Hopefully this list gives you some helpful ideas on how to make your child’s next party eco friendly. Choosing the green alternative over cheap, plastic party products makes you feel good knowing you are doing something great for the planet and you are helping to grow a new generation of eco warriors.