Tips for Cheaper, Greener Birthday Parties
Lynda Fassa, author of Green Kids, Sage Families
Of course, we all look forward to our kids' birthdays. But sometimes the stress and financial obligations of the actual birthday party get to be too much to handle.
To the rescue is Lynda Fassa, founder of the organic children's clothing line "Green Babies," and author of a new book, Green Kids, Sage Families. Her philosophy is that you can save more "green" by going green.
Here, this mom of three shares with us her top tips for throwing cheaper, greener birthday parties for kids.
Lynda has three daughters—ages 15, 12, and 9—and, as a result, has thrown her share of birthday parties. The following is her advice about making sure birthdays are a treat for your kid AND for you! The suggestions here are focused on cutting back on the waste and money involved in birthday parties but amping up the fun and creativity. Here's what Lynda had to say:
- We want our kids to have the best day in the whole world, but we also don't want to go broke. There are plenty of fun, memorable things that you can do that are less expensive—like having the party in the backyard. True, it's more work than having a party at a place like Chuck E. Cheese. But my kids never remember parties like that.
- Your kid will remember the day forever if you have the party in a place they already love such as their school; their favorite room in your home; their church; or another place in the community.
- E-mail invites are obviously the lowest impact, the cheapest, and the most immediate. There are several Web sites that allow you to e-mail invitations, and you can get your kids involved in designing it.
- I would have my kids make homemade invitations. It really helps to shorten the list! By the time they are on the 10th handmade invitation, they are exhausted. My kids make their own invites using crafts like recycled cards, stickers, ribbons, fabric, etc.
- Birthday parties can be a great treat, but you will be doing yourself and other parents a favor if you stick to all-natural food options. You know that unhappy, frantic thing that happens when you pick up your kids at parties? Studies have shown that sugar and synthetic flavorings [found in such things as store-bought cupcakes] are often the culprit. So something to think about is not the amount of sugar, but the kind of sugar kids are ingesting at your party.
- One year at one of my daughter's parties, we did "make-your-own banana splits" with regular yogurt and all different kinds of chopped fruit. The kids loved it!
- I'm a big fan of popcorn because it has a lot of fiber, and you can do a lot of things with it. For example, one time we had a popcorn table with all different toppings that the kids could add: cinnamon, raw sugar, cayenne pepper, garlic, etc. Just be aware that popcorn is big choking hazard for kids under 3.
- We used to do "Eat Your Wedgies" party, and it was hilarious. We'd get a long baguette from a bakery in town, cut it into wedges, and provide a bunch of different sandwich items like veggies, cheese, sauces, hummus, pesto, etc., and have the kids make their own sandwiches.
- Use what you've got, and use things that are reusable.
- If you are concerned about kids breaking glass or ceramic tableware, then I suggest investing in high quality, reusable plastic cups and plates from places like Bed Bath and Beyond and Walmart. It might be a little more money than disposable products, but you save the money in the long run because you can reuse this stuff at future parties. And, yes, you will have to wash these but it's not difficult to do, and it makes a huge difference environmentally because the one-time disposable supplies are covered in plastic and don't biodegrade.
Goody Bags/Party Favors:
- I'm not a fan of the plastic goody bags that have plastic toys (that are major choking hazards) and junky candy because no one uses those things. There is so much waste. If you really want to give kids something to take home then do one thing: like a piece of real chocolate.
- If you make something at the party or you do an activity like a treasure hunt, then you already have a goody bad that you know they will use.
Want more green ideas? Check out "Going Green" in Home & Garden Buzz.