Greener Birthday Party

Although our son’s second birthday was Thursday, we celebrated with a “small” party today. With 14 children under the age of 4 in attendance, and 1.5 adults to every child, practicalmomma is not certain if this still qualifies as a “small” party. Practicalmomma was generous with invites…

At any rate, we knew that putting this many people in our small home was not a recipe for success, and attempts to corral children and pen them in the backyard might prove futile, so we opted to have the party at the local park– practical, no? When traveling any distance from home, the challenges of resisting “disposable” temptation certainly increase. Here are some ideas and rules that practicalmomma uses to keep our footprint to a minimum, without too much effort or expense.

#1) Food selection
Food that is easily eaten with the fingers is most appropriate for this age group, and this reduces or eliminates the need for silverware. Make sure that the meal selection appeals to the masses, but is also something that your family is fond of as well. If there are considerable leftovers, pitching it in the garbage is neither frugal nor green. Practicalmomma chose to bring bite-size pieces of chicken, ham and cheese, as well as an enormous selection of cut fruit and grapes. Instead of cake, which Jibbers does not particularly care for anyhow, practicalmomma chose a cookie “cake” that could be cut up like pizza slices and eaten with the hands. This was also much cleaner for the children and, as such, welcomed by parents.

#2) Decorations
Keep these to a minimum, especially if the party is outdoors. One to three helium balloons should be sufficient to make the destination visible to your guests. All those streamers, patterned plastic tablecloth, and the like will go unnoticed by the children and have very little impact on your adult guests. Opt for a washable (ie not your best!) fabric tablecloth– it won’t get holes or blow away as easily either.

#3) Party Favors
Horns, hats, and party poppers do very little for the life of a party, but they do create a ton of garbage to be disposed of. Closely related to decorations, the tradition of guests receiving “goody bags” has become far too prevalent, in practicalmomma’s eyes. I do not recall receiving gifts on SOMEONE ELSE’S birthday as a child. These items are generally very inexpensive, and, to be blunt, generally junk. They are played with for perhaps an hour or two and then discarded or broken. If you feel you MUST give out goodies, try giving each guest a personalized reusable plate and cup with fun print– kids love anything with their name on it or a favorite animal. This also allows guests to use their new tableware for food, cake, and drink. Simply rinse, wipe dry, and send home with the children.

#4) Presents
Practicalmomma, in an attempt to be really practical, asked that guests not bring any gifts. We ended up with two, so the majority of guests respected our wishes without question. We are, after all, planning to move this summer, and Jibbers has a toy collection to rival NY’s FAO Schwartz, thanks to Nana and Pop. We are already trying to downsize– don’t need to add to the dilemma. If you are not willing to make this sacrifice, try invitation wording such as “plastic-free presents/party” or “wrapping paper/gift bag-free party.” I have nothing against plastic personally, but plastic gifts tend to have a short “shelf life.” Books and wooden toys tend to last longer, take more abuse, and are “timeless” in other ways, allowing them to have a second life with another child.


About practicalmomma

Wife. Mother. Personal trainer. Coupon clipper.Tree hugger. I go by many monikers, but it all boils down to living well, living healthy, living mindfully, and staying within our budget. A San Diego native transplanted to the Southeast, trying to stay true to my convictions. Changing diapers, changing minds, and maybe, someday, the world.
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