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13
Jun

Eco Friendly Birthday Party

by Tiffany in Children, Green Holidays

I have had quite a few emails from the Nature Moms blog readers about doing an article on how to host a green birthday for kids.

Nothing has a natural mom cringing more I guess then the thought of a conventional birthday party with the enormous amount of garbage they generate from torn wrapping paper and cardboard boxes to the disposable cups, plates, and napkins that are often used. Kids are hyped up on sugary birthday cake, and they get lots of toys that frankly they just don’t need.

So what can you do? Having a green birthday is actually easier than you might think. But first you might to change your thoughts about what birthdays should mean for you and your child. You can plan an event without the tears that may arrive if you tell your child that you will be serving apples and peanut butter instead of cake and giving a goat to an African community in their name rather than giving presents. There is great joy to be had in helping all kids learn the joy of helping others AND protecting our planet rather than tearing through gift boxes and getting sick from candy favors found in the goodie bags. The key is to combine green values with party themes that kids love. So I have some tips for you on hosting a meaningful birthday party packed with fun.

So what makes a birthday party a birthday party? Let’s start with invitations. There are quite a few options for eco-friendly birthday invitations nowadays. Some of the options I found while surfing online were invitations made from recycled paper of course, there are also seeded invitations where each piece of paper is embedded with a mixture of annual and perennial wild flower seeds. Most often these would be used for green wedding or bridal showers but I think they would be just perfect for a birthday party. There is also the tree free paper option. Tree-Free paper is exactly what it sounds like, paper that is made without ANY cuttings from trees, directly or indirectly. Instead the paper is made from more sustainable materials. But if you really want all the guests and their parents to understand what you are trying to do at this “green” birthday party you might want to purchase some recycled paper and make your own. Last year my children and I made some invitations from paper we had lying around the house. We cut out usable squares from envelopes we got in the mail, and then we pasted those to a larger cut section of newspaper. They turned out rather well and we recycled the materials ourselves.

Now on to presents…. Traditionally the birthday child is showered with presents. The presents are usually wrapped in delightful shiny paper that gets torn to shreds and tossed on the floor. So what is wrong with this picture?

Well, I don’t know about you but my kids already have too many toys. A toy hay day is just not necessary and it sends a message of consumerism that that I just don’t like. Furthermore, many of the common gifts will be plastic toys are full of toxins and chemicals that have harmful effects on children and plastic breaks quite easily, then because they’re non-recyclable, they end up in landfills.

So maybe you could request on your recycled invitations that guests bring your child a used book or a gently used toy from their own home. Many parents would be appreciative of this. Or perhaps you could have guests bring a gift to donate to a worthy cause. For instance, I read about a woman that orchestrated a puppy-themed party for her child to benefit a local animal shelter. She made dog-bone shaped oatmeal cookies for snacks and In lieu of birthday gifts, guests brought donations, dog food, leashes, water bowls and toys for the abandoned animals. All the kids and especially the birthday boy LOVED it and the animal shelter brought puppies for the kids to play with. I also read about an Africa-themed party, where kids built a grass hut and collected donations for African children. These parties were fun and they taught the guests a valuable lesson about helping others instead of the usual birthday message of “help yourself.”

Oh and if you liked that adopt a goat idea I was being serious. You can adopt a goat used to provide milk for poor families and gift the adoption to anyone of your choosing. Gardenharvest.org is one such place that offers this.

You can also create a registry list of eco-friendly gifts that your child would appreciate such as wood toys, cloth dolls, laptop lunch boxes, klean kanteen bottles, etc. There are a lot of options.

Okay, so we discussed gifts but what about wrapping paper. This one is pretty easy. Ask on the invitations that all gifts be wrapped in newspaper or fabric. The newspaper can be recycled and the fabric can be reused for a variety of other things.

Next up is supplies and decorations. First off, use reusable dishes, utensils, tablecloths, and napkins. All of these can just be washed instead of being tossed. If you MUST use disposables then go for the Preserve disposables available at Amazon. They are made from recycled yogurt cups. You can also buy compostable utensils. And if you do have any plastic, aluminum, or glass waste at the party, set out labeled recycle bins for the guests and encourage the kids to identify them and use them.

There are also a lot of green options for decorations too. Instead of a plastic tablecloth why not use cloth? If you have your heart set on a themed tablecloth then you could pick up some themed fabric at the fabric store. Even a themed sheet would work. If you have goodie bags then ditch the plastic and go with fabric there too. And what should go in the goodie bags??? Maybe some natural wood wands, if the theme is appropriatemagic wands are an essential for any new up and coming princess, fairy, magician, or wizard. I also suggest homemade play dough. I have several recipes for it on the NatureMoms site.

Avoiding conventional balloons would also be a good idea. When the ground is littered with deflated balloons this spells trouble for local wildlife that could be killed after ingesting them. I don’t anyone wants to thinks that their child’s birthday celebration could cause untold animal deaths so Japanese style paper balloons are an eco-friendly substitute.

Okay, so now we arrive at the issue of food and specifically birthday cake. How about baking a batch of delicious healthy cookies? There are a few healthy cookie recipes in the Dr. Sears book called the Healthiest Kid in the Neighborhood. I have tried them and they are all good. Also, what about a home-baked, low-sugar apple pie or a healthy carrot cake. I posted a recipe for a healthy carrot cake that is sure to be a hit at any birthday party.

So are you ready to throw a green birthday party bash? I hope I have given you some good ideas that will help you plan accordingly. If do end up have a green birthday party make sure to send me an email tell me all about it. And if you have already had one I want to hear your experience too….you can comment below. So now that you have a strategy go party!

Check out the latest installment of Green Birthday Parties for Kids.

Wednesday, June 13th, 2007

105 Comments

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  • http://www.icantremember.org Vicky Harper

    [...]You can have the coolest birthday party on the block and still be responsible!
    For more ideas, see also Eco Friendly Birthday Party by Nature Moms.[...]

  • http://unplugyourkids.com Mom Unplugged

    Having just endured my son’s 5th birthday party, this post is quite timely (albeit a bit late for him this year). We tried to cut back but I still feel that there was a lot of waste, unwanted gifts (he hasn’t played with a single one of them yet!), and sugar.

    You have some great ideas. I don’t know if I could get my kids to go for the goat, but I am sure I could convince them to do an animal shelter party and love it. Thanks for the wonderful idea!

    Thanks also for stopping by my blog. I can tell that I am going to enjoy yours!

  • Shoshana Grattidge

    http://www.healthybirthdays.com has some great tips for healthy birthday parties for kids. Check it out!

  • Sarah Petersen

    Hi,

    I am a big fan of all of the environmental information on your website, so I wanted to contact you about an issue that is important to me.

    My name is Sarah Petersen and I am very passionate about environmental activism. I am the author of http://www.savephoenix.org. My new passion
    is helping people save renewable resources in their home. I have written an article on environmentally consciencious bathroom design and remodeling
    and wasauna.com has agreed to host it for me because they get so much bathroom related traffic.

    I’m writing to see if you would be willing to post a link to my article (www.wasauna.com/bathroom-design.html) somewhere on your site. The article has all types of information about saving water in the bathroom, and statistics about how much it would save our country if people followed some simple guidelines.

    Thank you so much for your time!

    Sincerely,
    Sarah Petersen
    sarah@savephoenix.org
    (480) 522-6310

  • Lynda

    I am in the process of planning a 4th birthday for my son and have choosen a “green” theme. We are having a local nature center come to our home and talk about animals. I am going to purchase recycle products and organic foods for the party. This website has been a good resource on where to purchase “green” party goods and has great ideas on gift giving. I am planning on asking party goers to try to make their gifts green and wrapping paper is optional. Baby steps for everyone.

  • stacy

    Hi,
    I am having a party for my daughter who will be 5. I am wondering if you have any ideas of where to get fabric that won’t be so expensive for the paryt favor bags? And do you have any other ideas of what to put in the bags besides playdough?
    Thank you in advance.
    Stacy

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  • Gwen

    To add to the list of environmentally green parties, here are some other low consumption ideas:
    1) for small parties, consider email invites
    2) recycle: offer your old party accessories on freecycle.org so that someone local to you can re-use your used/unused items, and feel free to post a wanted ad on freecycle for party items you’ld like to have for your party.
    3) establish a bank account for your child’s college expenses, and let family members know as a green alternative, you’ve set up a college fund as an alternative for gifts.

  • aruna

    Very neat site for eco conscious moms!

  • rehaan

    Hi, Friend

    Your creative child birthday party invitation will make those you invite really want to

    attend your party. After all there is no end to imagination and excitement, so make

    sure that your invitation really stands out!Imagine the reaction when your very

    creative kid birthday party invitation arrives in everyone’s mail box. Or what if your

    party invitation is hand delivered by someone in your theme costume… You’ll make a

    wonderful impression on everyone and they’ll hardly be able to wait for your

    party!Here are some great ideas to help you think creatively about your child’s

    birthday party invitation.
    and u can also send Ecard & Invitation
    Please visit for more Detail

  • http://mercysnumber1fan.blogspot.com Jennifer

    Thanks so much for writing this article. I saw someone link to it (when suggesting fabric gift bags) and I’m hoping that I can incorporate some of the ideas you’ve given.

    Jennifer’s last blog post..Free To a Good Home

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  • beltzy

    Eco Bags http://www.ecobags.com has “ditty bags” which are inexpensive and perfect for goody bags. They’re 5 x 7 cotton mesh drawstring sacks and I’m planning on using them for my son’s 1st birthday parties. We’ll probably put fruit leather from Trader Joes and a cookie in them or something simple like that. A little costlier than buying a package of traditional bags but I think it’s worth it!

  • Rebecca

    Excellent ideas! I especially like the suggestion for each child to bring a “gently used toy” or book. This saves parents money and time–plus cuts down on clutter and waste. The eco-friendly gift wrap is a great idea, too. I’ve written about this on my own website, http://www.greenbabyguide.com.

  • http://www.factoryfast.com.au vacuum cleaners

    A lot of these ideas could be used for Christmas as well (Another time to consider as far as green things is concerned.) One family I know make it part of the Christmas traditions to give a toy or something to the local orphanage. The kids and the parents go to the orphanage, meet some of the kids, and give them something. It became a much-loved tradition in the family that even now, in their twenties, they like to do. So, there’s a pretty good idea. Christmas is supposed to be about giving any way – much more than birthday parties of course!

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  • Paulina

    Hello,
    We have done few green birthday parties. We are lucky our boys love insects and it is all they want for their birthday party’s theme.
    For goodie bags, we have used old towels shaped into hearts, cubes, etc. For goddies: necklaces we made using clay (butterflies shaped), homemade cookies, painted rocks (ladybugs), playdough, jump ropes, rhythm sticks (home made), drums (using recycled materials).
    It takes more time planning and making all the stuff, I usually start gathering stuff about 6 months in advance… which is when they usually start dreaming with their birthday as well. It is fun for all of us to prepare their party and surprise their friends.

    I hope this help!

  • http://www.thegreenaura.com Nancy Mathew

    I feel using bio degradable and reusable bags as goody bags is an excellent way of introducing kid how to reduce wastage. http://www.thegreenaura has jute drawstring bags, shipping is free. I also like their hand bags nad shopping bags made of fabric.

  • fine art portraits

    My three-year old cousin will be celebrating her 4th birthday on July. When I stumbled upon your site, I bookmarked it and highlighted your suggestions. As of now, we’re collecting recipes of possible menus to be served during the party. By the way, it’s our family practice to serve spaghetti during birthdays. Do you have any ‘green spag recipe’? I tried serving spaghetti with green herbs to kids last week to test if they will like it but they didn’t even finish a saucerful of their spag.

  • Funtush

    I got the goodie bags for my son’s b’day from http://www.thegreenaura.com. Their drawsting pouches are plain, you can decorate these or write on these with a fabric marker. The shipping is free.

  • Karen P

    Great ideas. For my son’s 6th birthday this year we asked guests to make a donation to Plan International (they help children in need all over the world) and allow you to sponsor children. We have a child we sponsor in Africa so my son is familiar with this organization. Also, a great way to save trees is to send out evite invitations. You do need to have email addresses, but our school uses email now for newsletter etc. to be more “green” so it was easy enough to gather. It actually worked great and was a huge help because my son ended up getting sick and we had to postpone the party. Evite allows you to send a message to your guests. Most received the message saving me many phone calls. It also allows you to send out reminder messages a few days before the party which several parents thanked me for. In this hectic time a little reminder is a good thing! We had a basketball party at a local gym and after the games served organic carrots & veggies, hummus, fruit, and we did do a traditional birthday cake – the one thing my son really wanted (he is only 6!). Party favors were in reusable bags and the only food items were organic fruit roll-ups which the kids all seemed to love.

  • Michelle Rotter

    I was in charge of my parents 50th wedding anniversary party at my house this past summer. All of our plates, glasses and silverware were compostable, and filled up my compost pile. The napkins were recycled paper. And the decorations on the tables were little pine trees that people could take home and plant. We also gave out favors of wrapped tulip bulbs that could be planted at that time of year. My parents asked for no gifts, but there are always a few.

    Plus I had a blast with the handmade invitations. I made CD’s of the top 26 songs of 1957 (year they were married) and had their wedding picture on the cover. Inside was the play list and invitation (all from recycled papers). It turned out great, and lots of people noticed my attention to detail with the environment in mind.

    By the way, my 10 year old daughter wants a green birthday party this year. We are planning a hike at the State Park 20minutes from our house.

  • http://greenguideforkids.blogspot.com Deirdre Gill

    Thanks for all the great tips. I just posted about throwing green birthday parties as well:

    http://greenguideforkids.blogspot.com/

    Love your Site!

    Deirdre Gill’s last blog post..Happy Birthday=Happy Environment

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  • Emi

    You can go completely green invitations and jusy an evite. evite.com

  • Valarie Roberts

    We are setting up a juicing station at our 6 year olds birthday party where the kids can make their own organic fruit juices.

  • Alicia

    I really love this website. There are so many useful tips on how to be better. Giving it our all only shows our kids that anything is possible. Thanks for such a great reference point!

  • Natasha

    I am about to host my son’s 2nd birthday. We are going eco friendly by only using recycleable or re-usable products. Our loot bags are made from brown paper and are hand decorated. Inside them are homemade bean bags, wooden toys and pencils with note pads. I am making all the food, and of course the cake! We are topping it off with a homemade pinyata filled with wooden or and bamboo toys. We are even making our own lollipops! Hope this gives some ideas!

  • Melissa Aird

    I was so excited to come across this blog. I am in the process of planning my son’s fifth birthday party. He is a HUGE animal lover and a Steve Irwin fan. Because it’s his current interest, every opportunity we get, my husband and I are trying to teach him about what it takes to save habitats and wildlife (money, money and money, and effort, effort, effort). So, for his Crocodile Hunter themed party, we are requesting that his friends donate to Wildlife Warriors, Steve Irwin’s organization, instead of bringing him a present. My boys, like some of your children (as I read), have way too many toys already. My son’s first reaction to our suggestion was “That’s a deal”, which made both me and my husband tear up. (Later on it was followed by “But I still want presents.” Hey, he’s five…) We explained to him that family would bring him gifts, but this will cut down by at least half. This way, we’re both happy. He gets presents, just not as many.

    I also have started a business making die-cut party invitations using only FSC-certified and/or 100% recycled materials… (www.bluewhaleinvitations.com). I made a boot that’s laced with real ribbon and there’s a crocodile sitting on top of the boot. Cutest thing I’ve ever seen in the way of invitations, if I say so myself.

    I also wanted to let you know how responsive Wildlife Warriors has been – they put together personalized donation envelopes and made my son a certificate in recognition of “requesting donations instead of receiving presents”, which made my son feel even better about the decision. If you’re looking for an organization to support, this one really seems to be a good one.

    Thanks…

  • Monika

    I am glad I fund your site. I am planing a fun play party for my son and try to be eco-friendly. You just gave me the idea, to give each of our guests a strawberry plants for gift. My son, 3, is excited having strawberry in our balcony, so his friend will like it too. And they will remember the party where it is time to harvest the berries.
    I also asked them to bring plastic yogurt cups so we can build a castle or a fort together.

    Thanks for the great blog!

  • Yvette

    I love this website and wanted to share a great website that I just did feature article on for my website.
    The website is called http://www.greenpartygoods.com. I had the opportunity to speak with the founder and she was delightful. Her article is posted on my homepage with a jpeg of some of the party hats. I love her produce and this here website is wonderful. Check it out you may like it.

    This year for my sons birthday I sent out invites through my website http://www.mykidsregistry.com. I was able to save paper, postage, and receive online R.S.V.P.s. I absolutely loved it and it acutally kept me so much more organized with who was coming and who was not. Some other PRO PAPER inviters kind of turned up their nose to my einvitation but I thought “whatever” invitations get thrown out at the end of the day and it is such a waste of paper, money and time unless of course if it is recycled paper.

    THE IDEAS ON HERE ARE FANTASTIC. I would love share this blog with my members too. Is that o.k.?? Great Job Tiffany and all the moms making a difference.

  • http://www.thelittlegreentambourine.com Suzanne

    Green Birthday parties are more fun than conventional parties! Making your own decorations may take more time and creativity, but it makes the birthday party process more enjoyable and exciting to the child. I am co-owner of The Little Green Tambourine, A Healthy Living Creative Arts Studio for Kids. We host green birthday parties and they allow the child to really feel special as all decorations and activities are much more creative and interactive than most other birthday party places offer. We have a big dishwasher in our studio so clean up isn’t that much harder. We don’t mind washing dishes when we know we haven’t created a bunch of paper waste! Most of the time the kids don’t know they’re at a green birthday party until we tell them!
    I hope more people think about the effect our holidays, not even just birthdays, have on our environment! I’m happy to see that this website is doing such a wonderful job making being green seem easy and cool; It really is!!

    Suzanne DeRosa
    Co-Founder of The Little Green Tambourine, LLC

  • Bev Young

    I used this site to plan my daughter’s party and it was FANTASTIC!!! Finally a way for us to have a party and not get tons of toys, stuff that she does not need. My daughter got One big gift and gave to charity and everything was done online. It was easy and i will use it again. Check out http://www.echoage.com for a truly green party alternative. Finally!!!!

  • http://www.organic-baby-resource.com/baby-shower.html organicbaby’smom

    Ooh, I’m loving this thread. Yes I may have to trackback ya. Wonderful blog!

  • Jen

    Hi there. I’m about to have a party (just because its tradition with our kids) for my daughters 1st Birthday and I LOVE all these ideas! Especially about the fabric gift bags. I still have plenty of time to implement the ideas too, which is always a good thing.

    Thanks a heap!

    Jen

  • Catherine Cardenuto

    For a “green” celebration you can also use cups, plates and utensils that are 100% compostable. (They are made out of corn and non-GMO vegetable starch.) Great for vacations, family reunions and all types of gatherings that the trash seems to pile up at.

    Catherine
    Festive Finale
    http://www.festivefinale.com

  • Melissa Moulder

    we had our daughter’s 1st birthday a couple of weeks ago…it was a pretty green scene and everyone had a blast. basically, we went pretty simple. we had finger foods, so no utensils, used paper products that could be recycled, and had gluten-free cupcakes with blueberries and agave nectar (they were great!) & vegan chocolate cupcakes….we only had a few gifts and they were either recycled or fabric, nothing plastic. this all just happened very naturally, we didn’t have to tell friends anything because this is how we live. our daughter had a blast and it was a very laid back scene…well, as laid back as it can be with a bunch of kids running around! :)

  • Melanie

    Way to Go melissa M!! We are doing cupcakes to bypass plates & forks all together. and will use napkins & fingerfoods also! :)

    This site ROCKS!!

  • Leonie

    Hi there! I just came across your site and am delighted to tell you all that we may have the answer as all our products are 100% biodegradable and compostable!!! We love a good party and one that can ease the world’s hangover as well as ones own eco-guilt is just what we love! We do ship to the US, Europe, Worldwide, just get in contact for a quote! We are launching our new brand in the third week of November, so be sure to have a look at our new branding and products ready for the party season! We will be promoting our Totally Eco Disposable Festivity Party Packs complete with fabulous decorations and stylish partyware, as well as plantable wrapping paper and invitations, mini hot air balloons and our new hand-made, locally sourced willow hanging stars, christmas trees and eco party balls! We look forward to seeing you all at http://www.ecomyparty.co.uk !!

  • Monika

    Hello, we just had a birthday party last weekend and like last year it was a green party. Just a couple of friends so it was not very difficult to do it green.
    I decided not to have any party trash after the party, so there was no paper plate, or plastic cups, but glasses and regular plates, small, and big flat. I did ask all the kids to put a sticker on their very own glass cup, and they had fun to do it. Adult did just the same. I was lucky to have enough of everything, but I was ready to ask my friend to bring over some glassware or plates if needed.
    there was no issue finding the cups and plates. I hand washed some plates in the meantime, but just a couple. It was fun, and eco friendly.
    By the way, I just started selling fabric gift wrap, which I like to use very much!
    http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=6290014

  • Christina

    I like your ideas, but you left out online “e-vites”! I just sent out our son’s second birthday e-vites with a request to bring unwrapped gently used toys for a “gift-exchange”. We are going to do a name draw and everyone will go home with a “new” toy to play with. Thus, we eliminate gift wrap, party favors and a surplus of unwanted toys!

    • Imissbear

      This is amazing!  I always struggle with the idea of gift bags…and usually end up giving prizes for games we play to be the “gift bag”.  Now you give me the idea of used books to trade (which my daughter cannot get enough of to read).  This will satisfy her AND give, hopefully, the love of books to others.  I love you and I do not know you.  Thank you so much.

  • Monika

    Although it not about Birthday parties, but some of you might like the idea and make some use of it. My son is 4 and we started to have candle lights night every Friday. (if is is possible) I candles for each room and after cooking is done all the lights turned down and candles up. We have dinner in candle lights, and than bath and everything else, like bedtime routine, etc….
    It is so much fun, and so unique for the kids.I just realized that it would be actually good to have a couple of days with no electricity at all.
    Try it and have fun! Kids will love it!

  • Kristine

    Hi – glad to find your site and see I’m not the only one going this direction! I’ve been sick over the excess and expense of the birthday phenomenon sweeping our country. I’ve been planning my daughters December birthday and have made some changes from prior years. The invitations were all sent electronically. It announced we were having a slumber party for my daughter in honor of the tropical rainforests. Guests were asked not to bring cards and gifts should be made in the way of donations to the Pachamama Allience and that we’d be showing Ferngully the last Rainforest. I explained to the parents my hope that this would encourage a new trend in birthday party traditions that would be more beneficial to our children and put our money to better use and that my daughter felt very enthusiastically about her being able to help. For favors the kids will be getting tree seedlings. I feel very good about this new direction and really hope this will catch on and become the norm. Thanks for your site!

    • Amber

      Love it! What a great idea!

  • Joann

    For my sons last 3rd birthday , for party favors, we used small brown lunch paper bags, decorated them with thomas the Tank Engine stickers, filled it with a wooden train whistle, conductor hat and red bandana, we used ‘yummy earth’ organic lollipops, stickersheets, and organic cookies. Very simple yet fun and yummy. Last years birthday we gave out velcro lunch sacks (from the dollar store) as the party favor bag, Instead of a cake, we also wanted finger foods and made homemade organic carrot cupcakes, so cute and nice centerpiece!
    A phone call from my child, and Evites were later sent as an alternative to using paper with details to those attending, nothing complicated. THANKS for the suggestions!

  • Panda_Kai

    Love the blog, just bought many party supplies on LetsGoGreen.biz and saved 25% when I entered “FRIEND” under the promo code. On my way to green party for my 1 year old!

  • Jessica Lonardi

    Funny, I was researching options for moving one of our offices and came upon your site. Just held my son’s 4th birthday party on Valentine’s Day – about 15 of his buddies came toboganning (public park). This being his first ever party, but not mine (his sister is 15) I wanted to set a different precedent, so we made it clear on the invites (recycled paper, kid-decorated) “Absolutely no toys or presents please” and gave info on the local dog shelter that we had decided to support. At this young age, I feel kids need to experience giving in a concrete way, so they were invited to bring food, (dog) toys, supplies which we collected in a (kid-decorated) box. Everyone had lots of fun and the response all around (kids, parents, daycare teachers too!) has been v.positive.

  • A. Lee, from eArtfair.com

    What an incredibly comprehensive post, and just in time for my child’s upcoming birthday party end of April. I love your creative idea about getting recycled presents.

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  • Laura

    I LOVE your ideas. My husband and I decided that this year we are not going to shower or allow others to shower our kids with all kinds of gifts (most that get donated anyway). You green party ideas are awsome! My LO’s thought they sound fabulous. We will be asking for donations to our local children’s hospital for one party and making fleece blankets to donate as well. My other LO loves the idea of a Puppy party (I hope our local shelter will be willing to bring a puppy or two over). Fabulous ideas…..just fabulous

  • Ken Maciora

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  • Kristen

    Hi!
    I’m interested in throwing a green party for my soon to be 3 year old and I would like to request guests to bring a used book or toy as a gift. Any suggestions on how to word this without sounding preachy? thanks!!
    Kristen

  • Nicole

    My son’s birthday is April 27th (awfully close to Earth Day) so, we had a B’earth’day party for him one year. One thing I did was made a little bento box lunch for each of the kids and included a drink in a reusable drink container with a lid and straw that happened to match the containers that I found at a local dollar store. We served lunch in these containers, and the kids were able to take the containers and the leftovers home with them. The containers were their party favors. We used old birthday cards to make postcards. We cut off the front part with the picture/image and used the back of the picture to write the party information and address. This also saved on postage as post-card stamps are cheaper. There were other things we did, but I can’t think of them at the moment

  • http://www.puddlegear.com Alex

    I am loving a new company called Green Planet Parties-
    http://www.greenplanetparties.com
    they have hand made heirloom birthday banners, green lootbag items, and as green as mud Piggy Nail Polish. Its a great site for greener choices.
    Nothing has branding clutter-

  • Neal

    Thank you for the great web site – a true resource, and one that many people clearly enjoy. Keep up the good work.

  • http://www.affordablemedicaldental.com Sarah

    Great ideas. We try to go very low key for birthdays because we don’t want the kids expecting the same type of party every year.

  • Jennifer

    We’ve had two nearly-zero-waste birthday parties this year, and have two more to go. One thing I’d like to add: We are having a huge family reunion this summer and will need to use disposable plates (which is like nails on a chalkboard to me!), and we’re going with the bagasse (sugar-cane) plates. They’re compostable. But one thing that seems to get overlooked often is that compostable or biodegradable items DO NO BETTER in the landfills. They must be properly disposed of. The bagasse plates and cutlery break down in 3-6 weeks, but ONLY if they are composted. Our family reunion is in a small, midwestern town that doesn’t offer city-wide composting like our California town does…So I called the hosting town about options and they said the neighboring town has a composting site. So we will be set up with a bin just for food scraps and compostable tableware and take it in directly. Throwing compostables/biodegradables in the landfills is NOT recommended.

  • Jess

    I like your idea of using a reusable cloth bag to “wrap” gifts in instead of wrapping paper or paper gift bags. It got me thinking of one of my favorite gifts to give for children – pillow cases. Instead of changing the theme of my children’s bedding every time a new character becomes a favorite, they have neutral bedding and I just get them a new pillow case with the latest favorite characters on them. So that made me think why not “wrap” a gift, whether new or gently used, in a funky new pillow case? I am so glad I came across this blog. Keep up the wonderful info!

  • Kerry

    I got so tired of searching for eco friendly party alternatives that it prompted me to start my own business. I wanted to provide other busy parents with a store that provides a unique combination of products, to make it easier to host an eco friendly kids party. Please check it out at http://www.meggiemoos.com. All the wooden party favors and gifts are made of wood that comes from sustainable source, and I have tried to source products made in the US where possible. All the cotton gift bags and decorative banners are all handmade in the US too. Now I just need to try and get the word out there….

    • Lisa

      Hi Kerry,

      I was surfing the interntet in search of wholesalers and manufacturers of green party supplies, because I’m starting also on online partybox business.

      I’m located in Europe and just wanted to have some advice from you.

      Thanks lisa

    • Kathleen

      Hi, I was trying to reach your website but it wouldn’t come up; are you still selling children’s party items? Maybe on a different website address?

  • Birthday Party Invitations

    Great tips! I’m trying to “go green” with my son’s party this year so your article has been very helpful.

  • maya

    “Let’s Help Keep Our Earth Stay Blue and Green” – that’s the theme for my son’s 2nd birthday. Yup! I hope to instill the idea that our Earth needs our attention, and that we need to do something.

    I’m doing my research now about how to prepare and throw an earth-friendly birthday party. I’m thankful to have found this site. To Tiffany, and all who contributed their ideas – Thank you so very much! I love you!

    (=’0’=)

  • Pingback: Green Birthday Party - Recycled Junk()

  • lisa

    thank you! i’ve done parties the past three years for my eldest…we always buy little pots and seeds and have the kids plant a sunflower or pumpkin etc at the party and take home for their gift. works well for older kids. my boy is turning 1 and we were stuck for some ideas for ‘grab bags’…we did email invites to save paper – good luck to others on your green parties!

  • lisa

    ps – the other issue going green is also cost – sure, little cloth bags are cute but also cost abut $3.50 each – add that for 10 kids then fill them…ahhh! i’m determined but sometimes it feels like we just can’t win when trying to do something good for the world.

    • Katie

      You can buy re-usable shopping bags at Toys R’ Us for $1.50 each with cute pictures on them (I got monkey, tiger & elephant bags for my son’s birthday) to use in lieu of paper party bags. Still a bit more expensive but they can be used for grocery shopping when the kids are done with them!

  • Mel

    How about making the gift bags? I opted for recycled paper bags.

  • Katie

    Not sure if someone already posted this idea because I didn’t have the chance to read all of the comments…EVITE.COM is a great website for sending FREE invitations for any type of event & it is a way to go completely paperless! Also, I suggested that guests look for a present for my son at yard sales, flea markets & consignment shops if they didn’t have any old toys at home that they could re-use. I’m glad I found your blog!

  • Elaine

    Giving the gift of time is always welcome. When my 6 year old son received an invitation that said gifts were optional, we gave the birthday boy a movie date. It’s a wonderful way to emphasize relationships over things.

  • Jennifer “rattlerjen”

    Excellent ideas! Don’t forget kids long for unstructured play outside. Boys and girls love to play in nature discovering creepy critters in the leaves, inventing games using natural objects, or even cloud watching.
    I am a birthday entertainer, teacher, and show performer of science using live rescued animals. At nearly every performance a child tells me a story about something they saw in their backyard. A memorable birthday may very well be playing in the dirt!
    Great ideas may be found nature crafts and activity books found in libraries. Don’t forget websites for teacher’s, national parks, natural resources, wildlife, and environmental organizations have great ideas for parties.
    I am collecting ideas from parents and posting on my website as well.

    Jennifer – Curator at Reptiles Alive LLC
    http://reptilesalive.com/birthdays/birthdayactivities.html

  • Jenny

    Thank you very much for such an amount of fantastic ideas for the eco birthday party. Especially I liked the seeds invitations. Surely, I’ll use some for the birthday parties of my kids next year. It’s amazing, how easy it an be.

  • Cari

    As a Mom of three kids I don’t want another cheap bag of plastic toys that won’t be looked at within a week after the party! But, even when it is something useful…it is still another “thing” in our house…so iI’m not doing party favors for my daughter’s 6th birthday. Instead, I’m going to buy a flock of ducks (well, actually, my daughter is going to decide what we buy!) in honor of all the kids who attended her party. We’ll write up a little card saying this and staple it to one strip of (duck?!) stickers. It is the only idea I can think of that isn’t a “thing” … I’d welcome any other suggestions… Thanks!

  • matt

    Keep up the awesome work. These were some great ideas!

  • Anne

    Wow! Wonderful ideas. I’ve gone shopping in the toy stores for birthday fun stuff, and what a bunch of junk – a total waste of money not to mention the plastic used, which will end up in the trash – often at the end of the party. I can’t wait to try out some of your ideas at my grandson’s next birthday party! Thanks!

  • Shannyn

    this year it’s my daughters first Birthday, and since they don’t know the difference anyway (she’s my third, the other two fell asleep before we ever made it to the presents) we are asking everyone to clean out their closets and toy boxes and meet us at a local homeless shelter to give away all the stuff. There are alot more homeless families in this economy, and giving in honor of my Daughters birthday seems like the best way to be thankful for all we have.

  • Leona

    I was inspired by greenplanetparties.com too. We are celebrating the 3rd and 7th birhdays of my son and daughter, together. We are requesting NO PRESENTS but if anyone wants to make a SMALL donation, we are accepting donations for my children’s “adopt an endangered animal” fund through World Wildlife Federation. The birthday child will receive a small stuffed animal and adoption papers for $40 and a charity tax reciept for $30 for each adoption. My husband and I will then give each child a sum of money to purchase their own toy… something they want. I am using reusable plastic plates and cutlery that I purchased ages ago for a party, and I am giving seedling trees I got free from a replantation nursery who disposes of trees that don’t fit the standard, and gift certificates for an ice cream cone from a local store. I have had a bit of negative feedback about the donation part and no presents, but this is what we truly believe in, the kids are very excited about “adopting” an animal and helping save the endangered species, and are looking forward to a party with lots of kids and fun all around! We rented half of a local gymnasium with access to gym equipment such as balls and hockey sticks, little tike cars etc for the younger ones, so we don’t need decorations or games! I am very excited about it! Good luck to everyone doing this and congratulations on making an impact! Even if ONE person likes the party idea and copies it, think of all the Made In China toys that won’t be purchased, the plastic packaging etc that won’t be in the landfill, and the trees that won’t be used for wrapping paper!

    • falon

      We do this as well for our kid’s birthdays and with tremendous success. Our son raised enough money to adopt acres of rainforest in the Osa peninsula in Costa Rica and to plant quite a few trees in the Atlantic rainforest in Brazil. Not everyone went along with our request but most did and since then, 2 of the kids that were at the parties have done the same! Kids are so amazing!

  • Heather Smurr

    Our son’s 7th birthday is being held at our local nature area, the Cibolo Nature Center. Not only do we not have to decorate (Thank you, Mother Nature!), but the kids get to explore the area and all it has to offer. Our main party activity is a “Nature Treasure Hunt”. One adult will be assigned to each of a small group of kids. The adult will hold and operate a digital camera for the hunt. The kids will be in charge of finding various items around the center, such as a tree that they can all reach around while holding hands, a rock shaped like a heart, a minnow (the creek runs through the park), animal tracks, animal scat, etc. Once found, the adult will photograph the item, so as not to disturb nature. We will be able to replay the photos to check for a winning group. Leave no trace!

  • kelli

    Great site. suggestion for eco-friendly invites – e-vites! Also, we did ‘Please no presents, just your presence!’ on the invites and most people played along :)
    Thanks!

  • Kelly

    I especially love the party idea of all the gifts being “animal shelter” gifts to be donated to an animal shelter. I think that is a birthday theme that even kids who don’t have eco-minded parents would enjoy. It would teach the kids about the importance of generosity and giving and at the same time be something that every kid would enjoy. What child doesn’t love dogs and cats… Great post!

  • Leona

    We did an eco friendly party for my 7 year old and 3 year old. (combined party). I used plastic reusable party plates and cups borrowed from a friend, we rented a gymnasium and equipment for the kids to play with, had a donation party where the birthday kids “adopted” a pet through World Wildlife Fund (so they got a teddy bear of the animal they “adopted” plus adoption papers, and we went home reject baby trees that are native to the area, donated by a seedling company that would have thrown out the trees (wrong size/shape etc) and gift certificates for ice cream cones from a local business. Invitations and gift certificates and tree planting instructions were printed on recycled paper. It was a fantastic hit! No gifts! ANd believe it or not the kids loved it. We gave them money to buy a toy of their choosing afterwards and they received gifts from family. But none of th cheap, made in China junk toys that break sometimes even before they get used! We raised over $235 and so we donated the rest to the local SPCA (local animal shelter). The kids took the money in themselves and visited the animals. They felt good and I felt good! THere seemed to be no complaints from anyone.

    A fantastic idea.

    Good luck everyone!,

  • http://www.birthdaysupplydepot.com/monster/ Jamie Smith

    What’s more enjoyable in having a party if you can employ it and can contribute with the ecosystem! Thanks for the information you provided

  • Stehanie

    My daughter is only 5 months and I have already been thinking of what to do, to have a green birthday party! I know some of my family don’t get our chosen lifestyle and am not sure how to approach the “please don’t buy any gifts, she doesn’t beed any toys!” Love the adopt a goat idea…my dad and step-mom adopted 2 goats as mine and my husbands christmas gift this past christmas!

  • Stephanie

    PS-I cant believe I spelt my own name wrong….Stephanie!

  • http://www.organiccents.blogspot.com Organic Cents

    When researching for my daughter’s 6th Birthday I found a site called Echoage that lets you send online invitation with RSVP tracking but you also choose a charity and guest donate to the charity rather than bringing gifts. After the party Echoage sends 1/2 the $ to buy a gift for the child and the other 1/2 goes to the chosen cause. I like this b/c the parent gets to help choose a gift for the Birthday girl or boy rather than getting a ton of things he/she doesn’t really need and the child also gets to feel great about raising money for a charity. This also provides a great chance to theme your party with the chosen charity’s cause! (We didn’t use Echoage this year but if we have a party next year we will give it a try!)

  • Jen

    Last year, we had a cat and dog themed party for our six year old and a donation drive for a local animal shelter. It was a big success! Guests were happy and the shelter sent a letter of thanks to my daughter. This year we are having a nature theme party at a local nature center. I am providing simple and healthy brown bag lunches (in muslin bags with cloth napkins) and making cupcakes. Minimal garbage and minimal cost. The kids are going to take a short hike and do a scavanger hunt along the way.

  • Madeleine Booth-Smits

    Thanks for
    these great tips. We’ll be doing these in the future. I’ve used you as a
    reference please check it out on http://nzecochick.blogspot.com/2011/06/green-party-time.html

  • Amanda

    I came across your site looking for ways to throw any eco friendly birthday and love your ideas! I’m a mom of two boys working away from home as a server and sometimes late hours.  My husband is a sailor so is rarely home!  I am interested in starting my own eco-freindly birthday party planning business so I may be home more for my kids, make money and still do my part to the environment.  I would love to hear other mom’s thought and ideas on this??

    • Imissbear

      GO FOR IT!

  • dani

    Another option for paperless invitations is doing online invitations. You can send them to the parents email addresses. A lot of wedding are going this route, too.

    Dani @ ONNO Hemp Clothing

  • Amy

    I know there are balloons made of 100% rubber-tree rubber that goes back to the earth when put in soil. I know all of Japan’s water balloons are so. Don’t know if it’s the same in other countries, but you can look into it and still have conventional balloons and tons of fun!

    • Anonymous

      If you search Biodegradable Balloons you will find many choices on line now.
      My kids Eco-Friendly Party Favor is the TickleMe Plant Party Favor. It is the only plant that kids can grow that will close their leaves and lower their branches when tickled. At parties and in my classroom I have found it to be the best way to excite kids about nature and gardening. This green favor is made of recycled plastic, ground up coconut shells for soil, a reusable flower pot and of course TickleMe Plant Seeds. The favor also includes ten activities your guests can do with their Pet TickleMe Plant. Kids learn how to be responsible for caring for a living thing as well. A mature plant has pink flowers as well. The kids can plant the seeds at the party at home, in winter or summer. The plant sprouts in 3 days. Much more educational than most of the favors out there. Just search TickleMe Plant on line to see videos of the plant in action and to find your party favors and get growing.

  • Kriszzp

    I love these ideas! I just started putting together some thoughts for my daughter’s birthday party goody bag because I am tired of taking home bags full of plastic and candy from parties every weekend. Check it out here: http://www.squidoo.com/eco-friendly-children-s-goody-bags

  • Kavita, Malaysia

    I have been having my kids bday parties in the playground/park area. Baked chicken sausages and homemade cake and water and choc drink. This year I want to go all the way by getting kids involved in the 3 Rs- reduce, reuse and recycle. I saw some wonderful ideas in this site, any other ideas, am looking out for it!!!! my kids, esp my soon to be 6 yr old daughter is very conscious about nature and waste. It helps both of us are very involved in environment and nature.
    Kavita
    Malaysia

  • http://GreenGlobalTravel.com/ Green Global Travel

    These are some great ideas on throwing a green birthday party! Thanks for sharing tips on how to go green with invitations and gifts! 

  • http://www.human-growth-hormone-hgh.net/ hgh

     I like your idea of using a reusable cloth bag to “wrap” gifts in
    instead of wrapping paper or paper gift bags. It got me thinking of one
    of my favorite gifts to give for children – pillow cases. Instead of
    changing the theme of my children’s bedding every time a new character
    becomes a favorite, they have neutral bedding and I just get them a new
    pillow case with the latest favorite characters on them. So that made
    me think why not “wrap” a gift, whether new or gently used, in a funky
    new pillow case? I am so glad I came across this blog. Keep up the
    wonderful info!

  • http://www.facebook.com/jessynessy Jessy Mills

    Instead of goodie bags you can give out cookies on a stick or cake pops or a used book or small toy or something of that sort? We’re having green bdays this year and each guest is going to be told not to bring anything but themselves and if they really want to bring something, $ will be accepted and anything over 5$ from each person will be donated to the Sea Shepherd Society, and the remaining $ will be used to purchase one used toy of our daughter’s choice :) 

  • Donna DeForbes

    We’ve had a few eco-friendly birthday parties for my daughter. It’s fun and it’s not any harder than the usual children’s party. I wish other parents would get on board with this! I blogged about it here: http://www.eco-mothering.com/2012/05/childrens-birthday-parties-are-scam.html 

    I also like your ideas on wish lists for eco-friendly items or gently used items. We’ve usually done the donation thing in addition to regular gifts, but I’d be very happy with the recycled gift idea.

    Thanks for posting!

  • Paris Parsa

    wonderful ideas. Here is a post about the green Birthday party.
    http://thegreenminimalist.blogspot.com/search/label/Children

  • susie

    Hi to all I am new her I am Susanna I live in Arkansas and have a 7 yr old son nice to meet everyone .

  • Jenny

    It is so nice to know that this is an important issue with other families other than our own. When we first started making changes to our parties, I was nervous about how some of our guests would respond, but I have found guests are excited to learn how others plan green parties.