Every aspect of a traditional kids party involves excessive waste. From paper invitations, decorations (plates, napkins, cups, etc.), presents, goodie bags…..I could go on! Times are changing and parents are looking to reduce, re-use and recycle even at their kid’s parties. When explained to children at the right age, you can give them a valuable education regarding helping our planet and the benefits of helping a social cause.
My son’s 6th birthday is approaching and we are trying to make it as green as possible…I’ve listed some tips that we’ll be following to create a fun, eco party!
Evite www.evite.com invitations to reduce paper.
Minimal decorations….we are having a ‘Superman’ theme, but my big boy has agreed that only 1 decoration on the wall is ok. We’ll later post it in the toy room or his room so it gets some use.
I usually buy matching themed napkins, cake/food plates, table cloth, cups and goodie bags. This will all be eliminated and we’ll use what the facility provides and bring re-usable cake plates.
I won’t be making my own cake, but doing this helps reduce the waste of plastic packaging from a ‘store bought’ cake.
The goodie bags are wood planter boxes that a local carpenter created. They will come unassembled, with instructions on how to assemble, nails, a bag of soil, and a bag of seeds. I’ve always loved the gardening theme for give aways because it gives kids a lasting project and gets them outside in the fresh air.
Presents….hmmm now here comes the tough one. My birthday boy has lots of friends and we also have a large, generous family. The amount of waste after 2 celebrations from Francesco’s birthday parties is ridiculous. We could use 4 recycling boxes alone just for plastic from gifts (not that most of the plastic is actually recyclable)! We have recently been to a party where guests were asked to bring a small donation…1/2 going to a special gift for the birthday boy and 1/2 going to their sponsored friend through World Vision. It was very eye opening….for the kids and me! The birthday child got to pick his own present and he learned how far $50 can go in Bangladesh for his sponsored friend. I have asked my son if he’d like to do the same thing and he answered yes. I asked him if he wanted to help people or animals with the money and we’ve decided that tigers will be the beneficiaries of his party. He tells people very proudly that he wants to help wild animals with his birthday party. I know there are agencies that take 15% and route your donation to the specified cause, but I’d rather donate the entire amount and research an agency myself. Francesco and his mommy have fun researching and surfing the net together.
For parents interested in this idea, but maybe find it uncomfortable collecting money from friends, there is a company called Echoage that looks after this for you. Via their online invitation, guests simply rsvp and give a secure online gift of money. Payments are pooled for the purchase of one gift for the birthday child and to support one meaningful cause.
I’ll post another article later in the month with an honest opinion on how the party went with reactions from guests and the birthday boy. I’ve doubted myself a few times, wondering if I should have given him one more year of having presents, but I know Francesco, and I think he ‘gets it!’ I believe even at 5 years old he knows there are more important things than presents and causes that need our help….namely our planet and for him…tigers!