I enjoy a good kid’s birthday party. At least the ones that provide cake/cupcakes for the adults as well as the kids. What can I say? I have a sweet tooth!
We had just started the Lemonade project when confronted with throwing a party. Having broadcasted my aforementioned commitments for 2017, I was a bit intimidated by the task of planning a birthday party for my daughter. How does one party without plastic, zero-waste style?? My husband pointed out, “Birthdays are wasteful events! Especially kids’ parties.” I turned my intimidation into determination and I believe the end result was a fun party for both kids and adults, which really did lighten our footprint.
I’ve started and stopped this post more than once. It feels self-elevating to write and pat myself on the back about the party we threw. But yesterday I was at music class and I noticed that the paper towels were replaced with cloth hand towels and a hamper. Was our party the cause of that? I don’t surely know, but its time to share in the hope that YOU can Part-ay with less waste!
Here are my notes on how we pulled it off:
Venue: Not wanting to play with Mother Nature and have 25 kids in my dwelling in the event of rain, I opted for something local. I have regularly taken my kid to Sing Dance Play Music Together of Marin, and now they have a space they are opening up for birthday parties. While this adult mama will ricochet around shamelessly in a bouncy house, I was excited to provide entertainment that didn’t necessarily involve a plug beyond a stereo.
Invitations: electronic invites. That’s an easy, common, and not-expensive way to avoid paper invitations and the gas associated with delivering them.
Presents: I aimed to keep this experiential over tangible. “Your presence is the presents” was stated on the invitations. I wanted kids to come and have a fun time and to take the pressure off of parents to provide a gift. A few very thoughtful gifts came in, which quenched my daughter’s thirst to open gifts on her birthday. M’s birthday present from my husband and I were tickets to a Raffi concert. Again, experiential.
- Finger-foods: finger sandwiches, pre-dipped veggies in ranch, whole tangerines. Bread was from a local bakery, sliced and wrapped up in a pillowcase for transport home.
- Pastured eggs were hardboiled, homemade mayo and yogurt to make egg salad sandwiches. Homemade jam and cream cheese sandwiches, and salami I purchased whole in the casing and sliced myself (vs. presliced and packaged in plastic).
- Sandwiches were premade, and put in casserole dishes covered in beeswax wrap to keep fresh.
- Veggies were organic, seasonal, grown locally.
- Tangerines were pre-packaged by nature with a peel, my favorite type of packaging!!
Table settings: tablecloths, cloth napkins, and china saucers. Yes, china for four year olds. Lily wisely states, “China should be used.” My china is generations old and I DO use it, but I couldn’t bring myself to use it for 25 four-year-olds. While I wound up borrowing a collection, I could have just as easily purchased a dirt-cheap stack of a frilly assortment at my nearby Goodwill.
Décor: forage flowers or purchase a bouquet from florist sans plastic wrap. I cannibalized two bouquets into an assortment of vases and jars. Actually, I delegated this to Lily. She knows how to make things pretty. Cute fabric rounds on the tables in festive colors livened up the tables and covered stains in the tablecloths. I also had leftover tissue paper pompoms from another party to hang up.
- Water and homemade lemonade in beverage dispensers served into mason jars and wine glasses. Some kids got a kick about drinking out of a wine glass!
- Adults were offered mimosas, as orange juice is available from one of those juicer machines at our grocery store that I can collect and serve from a glass bottle.
- Percolated coffee purchased in bulk and ground into a jar.
Cake: This was one area my daughter had definite input. She specified that she wanted strawberry cupcakes with strawberry frosting. This request was filled with homemade cupcakes with bulk-purchased (flour, sugar, etc). and local ingredients (eggs, strawberry jam), baked into compostable parchment cupcake liners. My daughter loved these, and blew out 4 beeswax candles for a fun birthday celebration!
Paper products: I brought hand towels from home for the bathroom and replaced paper napkins with cloth ones.
Disposal: The venue already had three disposal options: Trash, Compost, Recycling. The Prius-driving music teacher cautiously held up the trash can and asked, “So I can probably put this in the closet since we won’t be needing it?” I hesitated as well, and then agreed. What the hay, lets ditch the garbage can! And we didn’t need it!! I brought home dishes and linens in a big tub to wash and launder, food scraps and cupcake wrappers were composted, and two empty bottles of sparkling wine went to recycling.
HELP: This ingredient was essential. Enlisting the help of grandparents and friends made it all possible! From baking, lending (supplies, ideas, recipes), setting and cleaning up, taking pictures, it was a group effort. And fun, too!
Throwing a party soon? I hope this post will give you some ideas to make it a visually appealing, festive, and Earth-Friendly event!