Party Time!

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.fullsizerender-11

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:

img_4856Venue: 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.

img_4796Décor: 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!unnamed-3

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!

2 thoughts on “Party Time!

  1. Great post! My grandmother passed away before she ever used her mother’s china. What’s the point of storing something if we never get to enjoy it? What’s even better is nothing was broken!! Paper plates and plastic forks have not been around forever, but children have been 😉


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