Greener Birthday Parties for Older Kids

While the party is still fresh in my mind and I’ve embraced the fact another year has passed (all too quickly) for another one of my children, I wanted to write an article about hosting a greener party for older kids. I have to say the planning, execution, and green factor (being high!) from this party was very easy this year. Yes, it’s our 3rd year of hosting green parties for our children, including asking for donations in lieu of gifts, but there was no big meltdown (on my part) this year so I wanted to make some realistic recommendations to help parents trying to plan greener parties or celebrations.

When I think or say ‘greener birthday party’ or ‘eco-friendly birthday party’ a vision of children sitting around dying play dough with vegetables as the craft, eating raw/organics and picking up garbage as the activity often comes to mind. This is a lovely concept, but more realistic for younger children. The older kids get, they are picky and want to enforce their opinions on details and activities for their party..this is why things can often get expensive.  This past weekend we hosted Angelo’s 7th birthday party at a local rec centre (no I wasn’t up to the task of having 15 hyper boys in my house with only me to entertain them) and they had a teen room that is reserved during weeknights as a teen centre. The room is equipped with a Ping Pong & Pool Table, Foosball, Air Hockey, Basketball dual game, and a Wii system. There was also a party host that took them to the gym for an hour to play floor hockey and soccer. The key…these boy party guests stayed active, active, active!  The kids left the party having exercised and played with lots of different partners in the party room with the fun activities.

So the venue rocked and was very easy for my husband and I. A few other things I found easy:

Sent the annual Evite to save on paper invitations and hurt feelings from any children that weren’t invited to the party when paper invitations are passed around a classroom.

Used Angelo’s name banner for the 2nd year…best decoration for a child’s room and birthday party from my company Green Planet Parties. Besides for the tablecloth, this is the only decoration needed in this party room – everyone loved it.

My boys are crazy for Harry Potter so rather than host a Harry Potter themed party – we used understated wizard magic with the loot bags. They were cloth camouflage bags that contained organic candy, wooden wizard wands, and grey felt beards (so everyone can be like Dumbledore) once they are home. I have to say, the last guest to leave had the best reaction ever to the loot bags. He opened the bag and took out the wand and screamed “really? You got me my very own wand?” It was just awesome….anyone that believes boys need plastic, battery operated toys to be happy is frankly mistaken.

Brought in earth friendly tableware. I used palm leaf plates, corn cups and put all party guests names on them so they only used one throughout the party, used wooden cutlery, and recycled napkins. The facility where we hosted the party doesn’t have curb-side pickup for food waste so we packed up all the food waste and compostable tableware and brought it home with us to compost.  It was very easy.

For the third year Angelo hosted a donation party and asked his friends to bring a donation rather than a gift. He is a very green little guy and sees the value in helping a charity and knows that the amount of packaging that will be saved from toys and gift wrap is important. It really helps cut down on unrecyclable plastic when you ask children not to bring gifts to a party. We left the party with just envelopes because most of the kids made their own cards. In previous years, Angelo has helped Endangered Animals because it’s a concept younger children love – helping animals. This year, Angelo decided to give 1/2 of his party donations to Cancer Research because our family lost my father-in-law last year to a courageous battle to cancer so it’s a new cause that is close to their hearts. Donation parties really help empower children because they are making decisions (sometimes for the first time) with where their money is going – it gives them confidence and makes them proud.

For the first time in a long time, I simply just enjoyed the party. I wasn’t running around like a crazy person…I had support and help and got to enjoy the 3 hours, taking pictures and playing games with the kids.

I may be the owner of Green Planet Parties, but I’m not perfect and have a few areas to improve next year.  I love the convenience of supermarket cakes…I really don’t enjoy baking and know I’m not capable of pulling off a Harry Potter cake on my own, but knowing the icing is made from loads of artificial colors and the toys on top of the cake are made with PVC, doesn’t make me feel great. The convenience is wonderful…but I’d love to find another solution. There are lots of smaller cupcake, cookie, cake pop bakers in every community that are making these items from scratch and are probably more healthy than the supermarket. One person I’ve become friends with on Twitter is Event Envy. Not only is this mompreneur witty and friendly on social media, but her cakes and cake pops are incredible! My new favorite from her site is the Ruffle Cake!

Besides for the cake ‘fail’ I also brought juice boxes to the party. We did use water pitchers with the corn cups instead of plastic water bottles, but didn’t have enough containers to serve juice. The centre had recycling facilities and took care of the juice boxes but I would eliminate these for next time.

Ohhh just remembered I used beeswax candles on the birthday cake rather than petroleum based.  Maybe I just earned a point back?  <smile>

I wanted to write a post that anyone can follow regarding hosting greener birthday parties for children of any age. It’s still very possible (easy in fact) and doesn’t need to be this incredibly stressful occasion for parents. It should be enjoyable and fun….it is a party after-all!  Hmmmm next party is for my 4 year old twin daughters so everything might change trying to balance the ‘princess’ wishes they’ve been talking about.  That’s okay…I have a few ideas of my own how to keep their party green, fun, and girlie!  Wish me luck.

New, locally handmade items are arriving for Green Planet Parties. Join us on Facebook via the Fan Page so you don’t miss any of these new additions.

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