Birthday parties are a highlight of childhood, but in the past 20 years parties for children have turned into big, waste-producing extravaganzas! You've been invited to those parties, haven't you? (And maybe thrown one?) A child will have a memorable birthday party if you put the emphasis on having fun with friends rather than getting gifts and goodies. Whether you throw a party in your home or at a destination, you can take steps to eliminate wasteful excess and set a healthy example for your child and their friends. Here are some tips to help you plan your next green birthday party:
- Talk to your child about having a no-gift party. Reassure them that they will get presents from family, but that their birthday party with friends will be all about having fun. Who doesn’t like to have fun?
- Throw a giving party: instead of gifts, ask guests to bring unwrapped items needed by a local non-profit. Take your child to the non-profit to donate the items so they can experience the fulfillment that comes with helping others.
- Throw a swap party: ask guests to bring an unwrapped book from home. Put all of the books in a basket and have the kids draw numbers. The kids take turns picking a ‘new’ book out of the basket. You can do the same with puzzles and art supplies.
- Involve your child in the party planning. If having a home party, help your child make traditional games like Pin the Tail on the Donkey, dropping clothespins in a jar or a beanbag toss.
- Goody bags filled with cheap, plastic toys are exciting for two minutes and then they are forgotten. Work with your child to organize a craft project that guests can take home in lieu of a goody bag, or choose more useful items like crayons, colored pencils and books. Or just skip the take-home treat — the treat is the party!
- Serve food and beverages using durable, reusable dishes, cups, utensils, tablecloths and napkins. If having a ‘destination’ party, tell the facility you’ll be bringing your own. At the end of the party, toss the dirty dishes into a bag or bin, take them home and run them through the dishwasher.
- Try to serve homemade food and treats when possible to keep packaging at a minimum. If serving juice, buy it in large jugs and serve it in durable cups rather than buying individual juice boxes. Better yet, just fill up a pitcher of water. The kids will be more interested in the cake!
So are you ready to throw a green birthday party? If so, take the Green Birthday Pledge:
By posting a comment, I pledge to try my best to throw a green, no-waste birthday party for my child. I can achieve a green party by putting the emphasis on FUN instead of STUFF. I pledge to do my best to:
- Use durable goods to serve up birthday treats.
- Serve food and beverages with a minimum of packaging.
- Host a 'no-gift' or ‘giving party’ or a ‘swap party’ to cut back on unwanted toys and excess packaging and wrapping.
- Skip the goody bag loaded with cheap plastic toys and candy.
And please, share your successes here on EnviroMom! Inspire other families to follow suit! Let's see if we can make Green Birthday Parties the new trend!