It was my daughter’s 3rd birthday last week and we are planning a Green Birthday Party this weekend.
Five Ways to Make Your Party Green(er):
1. Make PEOPLE the Center of the Celebration. This is the number one rule for good reason. Bringing this goal into your awareness should make the gathering more enjoyable all the way around. Plus, it lets you off the hook when you feel the pressure to plan an elaborate theme or go all out for your guests. It seems like common sense but, for example, we’ve all been to kid’s parties when the adults don’t get to enjoy or interact. When the guests sit around watching the birthday kid open gift after gift. Or when the hosts are so frazzled about the theme or activities that you wonder, I thought parties were supposed to be fun!
Although the guest of honor is my three year old, I am considering the adults’ experience as well. We have a train set, puzzles and other games that the kids can play with and I’m keeping in mind the parents’ enjoyment too!
2. Consider a Gift-Less Party or Shower. Welcome gently used hand-me-down games, books or clothing. It’s amazing what great stuff you can find and it is cost-effective too. Some guests are really uncomfortable with the idea of attending a party and coming empty handed. I usually suggest that they bring a dish to share or something my child really needs like a pair of sturdy shoes for school. For a baby shower you could suggest starting a fund to help the mom hire a birth or postpartum doula. Or maybe pay towards a housecleaning service for the first months after the baby arrives.
My parents have offered to buy my daughter what she needs for nursery school. My sister is agreeing to bring a dish. My friend is planning to bring some fun fairy dress up clothes for the kids to play with.
3. Make your party memorable by having yummy homemade food and even better music! These two party ingredients will take you a loooong way. If cooking all that food seems daunting then, by all means, make it a potluck! And when I say potluck I mean just have guests bring a favorite dish without worrying too much about who is bringing what- you’d be surprised how well it turns out! Having homemade food is healthier and requires less wasteful packaging than buying processed store-bought foods and sweets (think about all those candy wrappers and plastic containers).
I am planning on providing homemade rice and beans, hummus, guacamole, fruit salad and brownies. Guests can bring a side dish or juice. My mom is baking the birthday cake!
4. Use real dishes, silverware and cloth napkins OR buy biodegradable plates, cups and cutlery. Nowadays it is pretty easy to find paper plates and napkins made of 100% post-consumer products. There are compostable plates and cutlery made out of renewable sources including corn, sugar and bamboo. Click here for an online search for Biodegradable Disposable Plates.
I plan to have the adults eat from the “real” plates and have the kids eat from the recyclable and biodegradable paper products I buy. I don’t plan to buy juice boxes either. I’ll offer the kids small cups of juice diluted with water and pray that we don’t have too many spills!
5. Rethink or nix the party favors all together! Guests rarely truly appreciate these tokens of appreciation and most folks certainly do not expect anything when they go to a party (except maybe to be fed and have some fun). A memento can be nice- consider printing a card on recycled paper or a gift like a small bottle of an essential oil or lavender sachet…
I know that those plastic little toys my kids get at parties are lost or broken before we even make it home from a kid’s party. And it is such a relief to me not to have to worry about buying one-more-thing.
** To make your gathering even more significant and memorable consider consciously created rituals or a ceremony to mark the milestone you are celebrating. Bringing your attention back to why you’re celebrating in the first place adds meaning and beauty to the festivities. I am still high from a attending a Mother Blessing this past weekend– look for a new post on ritual design coming soon!