Archive | Eco Kids Party

5 Tips For Hosting An Eco Party

My baby girls turned 8 years old and to celebrate we headed to their happy place Aldor Acres Farm in Langley. Not only were we blessed to host this party at this amazing farm, Raeleigh from Lark Rise Horse House Photography joined us to capture pictures and memories. I highly recommend bringing a photographer to special parties, especially if they are hosted outside.  The natural lighting, nature backdrop and that ‘eye’ that talented photographers have makes all the difference from snapping your own pictures. And it allows you to truly enjoy the day and be in the moment, rather than concentrating on working a phone/camera. Follow both of these businesses here and here because what they share on Facebook, will bring you many smiles.

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There is no reason for parties to generate more waste than practices in your everyday life. If you have an environmental commitment, it’s easy to incorporate these values into hosting a really fun Eco party!

5 Tips For Hosting An Eco Party

1) Limit Waste. You are hosting a party, not contributing to mass consumerism so why is a party any different than the rest of your life? Try to limit garbage. Especially if hosting at a park or farm, you don’t want to leave the event with a trunk load of garbage. We requested party guests bring reusable water bottles and used compostable tableware; palm plates, recycled napkins and wooden cutlery. We also requested no gifts which really helped limit non-recyclable gift wrap and plastic toy packaging.  The twins have special reusable party banners so this also limits disposable waste from cheap decorations.

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2) Re-think Goodie Bags. It’s easy to hit a dollar store and fill up a little bag of trinkets, but there are so many ways to send guests home with a give-away that is fun and eco-friendly. At this party we brought hanging baskets and the kids potted strawberry plants. They also received a little treat in a handmade bunny bag, but hopefully this summer when they see the first signs of strawberries, they’ll remember our party and their introduction to planting.

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3) Eco Party Games. Classic party games are always a huge hit. We started with an egg toss and since we were at the farm, we had lots of space. I can’t believe it was my kids first time doing an egg toss and to increase the fun we didn’t boil them first. One of my sons ended up with egg on his face and hair..it was awesome! This was the most popular game and we had to buy more eggs from Aldor Acres because they wanted to keep playing. We continued with sack races (old coffee burlap bags) and three-legged race using ties my husband doesn’t use anymore. The burlap sacks and ties gave the games a cool vintage vibe. The classic party games are always amazing..kids yearn for simple things. Fun party memory was all the kids watching the dads have a sack race.

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4) Host a Donation Party. As parents we feel guilty about many things. Since my twins have older siblings that only have donation parties, I started the girls early in life with no gift parties. Then last year I felt guilty that they didn’t have the experience of opening gifts and switched it to a gift party. I was quickly reminded of that huge layer of waste when party guests bring gifts. From the gift wrap to plastic packaging  – it’s a lot. We switched back to a donation party this year and it was amazing. We will be donating the money collected to tinykittens – a foster home for rescue cats and kittens. My twins love holding and watching kittens, so they are very excited to visit and deliver their donations to this amazing place and sponsor a healthy kitten from birth to adoption.

5) Give an Experience. I love hosting parties where guests get to experience something new or get a close look at things my family loves. From our love of Harry Potter, indoor rockwall climbing, forest fairy walks and scavenger hunts, to now sharing the magic of Aldor Acres. I love to watch the excitement from my usually introverted twins build and become contagious with their friends about party themes. When you love where and what you doing, so will the people around you. How often do you get to participate in a goat parade and help herd them? This along with holding lots of baby bunnies, goats, lambs,  hay ride, and having space to run and play with your friends. . . kids love it. And don’t be fooled, even the teenagers that come to the farm with us love it. There is no age limit bonding with animals and spending time outside.

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I think you would be surprised how happy a farmer would be to share their little bit of heaven with a birthday party. With the Spring and Summer months now here, think about booking your next party outside. Thank you to Lark Rise Horse House for capturing so many moments in time that I’ll want to remember forever. Also, Farmer Melissa and Katie for being incredible role models for my daughters. My kids know that behind the smiling faces that greet them at Aldor Acres Farm are very hard working farmers and it’s important to support such a valuable resource. Thank you for being amazing stewards for farmers in BC’s Fraser Valley.

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Related Posts:

How To Play Muggle Quidditch

Hosting A Harry Potter Party

Scavenger Hunt In The Woods

Eco Kids Party – Fairies & Forest Walks

Chocolate Beet Cupcakes

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Chocolate Beet Cupcakes

I have been surprised by the ingredients that have made our family favorite baking recipes successful..and strangely enough they are all healthy and ingredients you assume moms add to recipes to boost health, not taste. I love sharing recipes that kids actually like, plus are healthy with only clean ingredients. With our homemade granola bar recipe the secret is apple sauce. With chocolate muffins it’s zucchini and with the cupcakes I’ve prepared for my twins birthday celebration the secret ingredient is beets. Nothing surprises me anymore. =) And I’d like to point out nobody in my family knows there are beets inside the cupcakes – when they saw the beets roasting I told them they were only for the icing colour. Even my husband wasn’t told the truth with this recipe because he is worse than the kids with trying new things. They got the thumbs up from everyone and it’s going to be our little secret until, like all the recipes I’ve listed, they no longer care what is hidden inside because they love eating it so much!

The recipe is modified from Joy The Baker with my little changes.

Cupcake Ingredients:

2 medium beets
1 teaspoon olive oil
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup whole brown sugar
3/4 cup golden cane sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup dark cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups milk

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Wash clean beets in a piece of foil. Drizzle with just a bit of olive oil. Seal up foil. Place on a baking sheet in the oven. Roast until beets are tender when pierced with a knife, about 1 hour. ** Save the beet juice at the bottom of the foil to use for icing dye ** Remove the beets from the oven. Open the foil and allow beets to cool completely. Beets will be easy to peel (just using a paring knife) once completely cooled. Grate the peeled beets using the finest side of a box grater. Measure 3/4 cup of grated beets for the cake. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer or hand mixer, cream together butter and sugars. Beat on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time, for one minute after each addition. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Once eggs are incorporated, beat in beets and vanilla extract until thoroughly combined.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

Add half of the dry ingredients to the butter and egg mixture. Beating on low speed , slowly add the milk. Once just incorporated, add the other half of the dry ingredients. Beat on medium speed until milk and dry ingredients are just incorporated. Try not to overmix the batter. Bowl can be removed from the mixer and mixture folded with a spatula to finish incorporating ingredients.

Spoon the batter into the cups, filling each 3/4 full. Bake for 20-22 minutes (for mini-cupcakes) or 22-24 minutes (for regular-sized cupcakes). Test when a skewer is inserted in the center and comes out clean. Remove cupcakes from the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Place on a cooling rack and allow to cool completely before frosting the cupcakes.

Icing Ingredients:

450 grams of cream cheese
1/2 cup butter
3 cups confectioners sugar

Icing Directions:

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer or handheld, beat cream cheese for 30 seconds and butter until well combined. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl as necessary. Add the powdered sugar about 1 cup at a time and mix on low until completely combined. Add your beet juice for coloring. Refrigerate the frosting for 30 minutes before frosting the cooled cupcakes.

I lost the beet juice when I unwrapped the foil so save that juice – it’s precious, organic dye for your icing! I tried the method of add larger chunks of cooked beet to the icing but the color is light using this method.

 

 Related Articles:

Limit Food Packaging – Make Your Own Granola Bars

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Greener Halloween Decor

Thinking of Halloween decorating makes you instantly think of plastic – I know that was the situation here until a few years ago we acquired an amazingly sustainable outdoor lawn decoration that is larger than any of the front yard blowup decorations I’ve seen. Decorating for a holiday and connecting to memories is a special thing. I first fell in love with our local pumpkin patch when my first child was born – just seeing the sea of pumpkins and adorable wooden characters that are sprinkled around the patch made me feel like magic lived there. We’ve been every year with all the kids and after a couple of years I finally asked the owner for the name of the carpenter that made the big wooden pumpkins, characters, etc. She gave me Randy’s phone number and the rest is history.

Created with a huge sheet of wood, with hinges so it folds to be put away, I love my huge pumpkin that was made for my front lawn. It’s like I got to take a piece of the pumpkin patch home with me and seeing the decoration every day just makes me happy. It’s also a much more sustainable decoration in my mind because at the end of it’s life I will chop it up and compost the wood. The pumpkin also served as a bean bag toss game at our annual Halloween parties but the fact it was made by a local artist is the best part for me. I’m sharing this because you can easily call your favorite farm or pumpkin patch this time of year and ask the same questions I did.

I saw another very earth friendly decorating option on Pinterest and if I had a truck to transport this bale of hay – this would be on my lawn too!  I think it’s hilarious and think of the fun your kids would have sticking the shoes into the hay bale. This is a great decoration for high impact outdoor decorating and can be composted or donated to a farm after Halloween is over. You can also setup a Halloween game with the bale of hay by hiding candy inside and have the kids dive in to look for it!  Bales of hay sitting in farmers fields make me incredibly happy too – this decoration will eventually find it’s way to my home. I love how easy it is to dispose of it after the holiday has ended!

Photo credit: Global News

If you are adding to your seasonal decorations this year, try to use parts of nature that will eventually leave the earth: leaves, pumpkins, hay, wood, pine cones, etc. I’ve got some incredible crafts lines up that are made using nature. It just feels better to use something like leaves or baby pine cones to craft with rather than glitter and plastic! Teach your children the legacy of selecting a product or decoration. We’ll have some indoor decor tips coming up next!

Related Articles:

Spooooky Disposable Tableware!

Halloween – How Will You Green?

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Scavenger Hunt In The Woods

I’ve been wanting to plan a scavenger hunt for years!  It seems like the coolest way to keep kids entertained, spend time in nature, and host an outdoor themed party or activity. After hosting my son’s 10th birthday party and organizing a great scavenger hunt over the weekend, I realized that until you put your own special touch into the hunt, it becomes easier and fun to plan. I’m going to give you a cheat sheet so that you can organize a fun scavenger hunt quickly – even make it a fun weekend activity for the family. I discovered that scavenger hunts are a special way to unite older kids with nature and that is so important in this world where our kids seem too busy with sports and electronics to properly engage.

You first need to ask yourself, “what is your goal with the scavenger hunt?”  I wanted my son’s friends to be able to run free, climb, make noise, engage and learn during the scavenger hunt. When kids are enjoying themselves and have the opportunity to learn something, especially facts about nature, I think it’s magical. So my first task was to find a place that met the criteria for this scavenger hunt. My entire family went and walked through a park with old growth trees, lots of ponds and streams, an easy trail, and not super busy so that the hunt would be relatively un-interrupted. While we were walking through the trail where the hunt would be setup, I tried to find subtle things in nature that you would only notice if you were searching. .  . a field of baby ferns (snap – took a picture), a tree in the shape of a √ mark, a tree that looked like it had a face, a pipe sticking out of the earth, a distinctive toadstool, etc. Each mark along the forest I took pictures…more to remind myself of these clues once I got home.  Later these pictures would be printed and were the bonus items for the kids to ‘seek’ in the scavenger hunt.

So now I had a place where kids could explore water, climb, and run free. . . but I also know my audience and knew that might not be enough. If there’s one thing I’ve learned raising boys, a physical challenge or activity is always a great idea. I only did three of these activities, but wish I had done a couple more. They were by far the highlight for me to watch and the kids to complete.  I ripped up a sheet and a bolt of fabric and made fabric strips. These were used to mark the trees which look amazing in the forest! The fabric markers are great for the environment because they don’t cause damage to the trees and can easily be removed after the hunt is over. Each team was told to look for a different color of fabric so they didn’t mix-up their tasks. Here is how the fabric markers looked – I added a heart graphic because I love them.

When team 2 saw these green tree markers they knew a clue was nearby. At the base of three trees there were clues to:

1) Pickup a stack of burlap sacks under the clue, nominate 3 kids (there were 3 sacks) and these kids had to jump along the forest in the burlap sack until they reached the next clue. Watching the kids jump along the forest floor in their sacks was pretty awesome and a very popular activity!

2) At the next fabric marker, I left a tape measure under the clue card and the team had to measure the width of the tree and record the measurement in cm and inches.

3) The last marker was next to a creek with a fallen log. The team had to cross the log and if the person got even a drop of water on them…another team member had to complete the challenge. This was a big highlight too!

A few other ideas that would be great scavenger hunt activities are: have the team complete a leaf rubbing, measure an old growth tree with their bodies and count how many kids it takes to measure the tree, and/or remove the tree marker and select two kids to have a three-legged race to the next tree marker.  Here is a picture of some burlap sack racing along the forest from my son’s party:

 While each team was walking through the forest they had a book to record 4 sets of criteria: seek, find, listen, collect. It kept them busy and each team member kept passing around the check list of items to be searching for – great team work. Here are a few samples of my favorite from each category:

Seek!  It’s important to tell kids that items to seek should not be touched or removed from the forest.

◊ animal tracks – what animal was it?  ________________

◊ something faster than a snail

◊ poo – doesn’t matter what kind.  (lots of laughter finding this one)

◊ item that begins with the first letter of the birthday child’s name

◊ a nurse log

◊ an old growth tree (takes at least three kids to wrap their arms around)

Find!  These items were placed in a cloth bag and they are okay to be removed from the forest because they are no longer alive:

◊ fern

◊ bark

◊ a heart shaped rock

◊ a rock the size of the birthday boy’s hand

◊ feather

◊ a river rock (smooth)

Listen! At different intervals while we would stop and listen. When all the group members stopped talking we’d hear lots of noises that otherwise would have missed:

◊ a bird song

◊ running water

◊ people talking

◊ leaves crunching

◊ cards driving

◊ frogs

◊ crickets

Collecting!  This was my favorite because each group was given a plastic bag and items that shouldn’t be in nature were to be placed inside. Basically these kids were cleaning up the litter from the forest during this portion of the hunt! Teams could list out each item they collected and then add why it didn’t belong in nature in their book, but we just discussed it every time something was found..rather than writing it down.

The last portion of the hunt I completed with my team at the 1/2 way mark. The planning of this Q&A portion of the scavenger hunt was so much fun for me because I called my local Parks Board and asked for their help. I wanted a ‘fun facts’ section of the scavenger hunt that would be interesting for the kids and also teach them awesome forest facts!  I thought it was important to call my local parks board rather than just using Google so that the information would be related to the forest they were searching.  Here are a sample of the questions and answers – aren’t they interesting?

1) What animal in the forest is known for their ‘super glue’? (Answer: if you run your finger along a slug, wave it in the air so the slime gets tacky, then put your finger against a rock, it will stick to the glue.  Try it but be gentle to the slug!)

2) Name three tree types in the park.

3) How many mosquitoes can a bat eat in 1 hour a) 30 b) 200 or c) 600.  The answer is 600.

4) Eagles use the same nest ever year – they just keep adding to it. At the end of their life, would the nest weight as much as a car? Circle Y or N.  (The answer is Yes)

5) True or False. A strand of spider web is stronger than an equal thickness strand of steel. (Answer is True).

I remembered the first fact about the slug after a forest tour we did years ago.  The rest came from a very stunned forest guide that had a crazed mother calling him on a Friday afternoon asking for help with her scavenger hunt. <grin>  You gotta use facts that are interesting for kids and I thought these were great!

At the end of the scavenger hunt we probably could have tallied up the sheets, plastic collected, and questions answered but I didn’t. The boys had a great time, I loved watching them, and since we were at a park, the boys ate sandwiches and then played outdoor hockey and soccer before going home. Lots of fresh air, teamwork, and fun.  The loot bags contained wooden decoders so the adventure inspired fun could continue after the party guests went home!  I hope these steps give you a general guide of how to create a really fun scavenger hunt, but the most important part is to personalize it yourself!

 

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The Easter Bunny & Random Kindness

There is one part to setting up Easter egg hunts on Easter morning that I always miss – the fact my kids can’t help me set up. When planning fairy walks or party activities my kids are always right by my side planning and then executing – they love it!  So today while my kids where all home we came up with the idea to leave Easter eggs filled with sustainable goodie along the Inlet trail and park in our community. We used 8 plastic eggs we’ve been reusing for years and filled them with a felt pirate eye patch, finger puppets, basil seeds, felted jewelry, and a fairy leaf bed/pilllow set. We used plastic for the outside to hold the treasures because we hoped the eggs would be safe for a few days out in our rainy West Coast climate. I highly recommend this activity for kids with the excitement building up to Easter hunts, activities, etc.  but strongly petition you to please not fill them with junk!  Even a couple of pennies or treasures from the forest would be fun: acorns, gem stones, etc.  Just the magic of finding an egg in a playground with a note and goodie inside would be amazing for kids. Funny enough we talked with two adults that found one of our eggs under a park bench and they were beaming. Not just little smiles, you could tell their day had been made!  They turned out to be kindred spirits of the Peter Pan syndrome I have “never wanting to grow up and believing in fairies”.

Here is how we planned our random act of kindness egg hunt!

Egg setup. We selected plastic eggs to reduce moisture for the goodies inside. I let the kids select Eco-friendly presents to put inside based on their personalities. I didn’t want them to put candy inside because most parents would want their kids eating candy left by strangers…so we selected handcrafted, mostly felt or plantable treasures. I used new items from Green Planet Parties and included the logo in the note we left, not for marketing purposes, but so that parents would know that these items are new and safe to play with. The note simply read: “You are receiving a random gift of kindness. Enjoy your Easter treat and consider leaving one for someone else to find!”

Egg planting. We decided to walk through the forest in our local inlet that leads to a park and pier. The kids were very exited to leave the eggs in tricky spots for other children to find in the perimeter of the park. The boys watched a pair of kids find one of their eggs and loved listening to the shriek of finding a treasure and having them rush off to show their mom.

Here is a picture of the first egg we planted in the forest. The rest of the eggs that were planted along the trail looked beautiful too!

 

We don’t know who found those eggs we left in the forest (walking back along the trail we noticed most of the eggs had been picked up already).  But the best reaction of the day was from hiding this egg under a bench along the pier:

We had tied the egg under bench and then ambled down the pier. We took our time looking in the water, checking out a boat anchored and when we got to the end of the pier there were two lovely ladies and they looked tickled…but I didn’t assume they found the egg because we had just left it under the bench. They watched my kids play and showed them the felt eye patch they had found in the egg..my kids smiled and said they were the ones that put it there!  These two adults just loved the experience and they had already paid it forward and left some change in the egg and re-hidden it. So much fun!  I think it’s adults that need a bit of magic in their lives. We are always knocking ourselves out to insert magic whenever we can for our kids…but adults need to see magic too. The adults seemed to have the best reaction to this idea and it’s something that is really fun. This time of year is a great time to leave random acts of kindness and the best part is you can use eggs!

An important point here is that egg fillers do not have to be a plastic, crappy, toxic affair. Here are some earth friendly ideas that actually fit inside standard eggs!

Felt Finger Puppets

Pirate Eye Patches

Felted Rings

Felted Ponytail Holders

Seeds – we left basil seeds

Wooden eggs

Felt Moustache

Pocket Doll

Fairy Leaf Bed and Pillow

Fair Trade Worry Dolls

Wooden Decoder

Felted Toadstool

Bird Call

Felt Dressup Watch

Remember to have fun and tailor the act of kindness to something close to your family’s heart! Let us know about the stories you discover with leaving random acts of kindness on the Mommy Footprin fan page!

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