I’m coming up on a year of going low waste in the next few months and there have been a lot of things I gave up completely because they are unnecessary, unhealthy or just really bad for the environment. Some things I didn’t want to give up, like throwing my kids birthday parties. I don’t do parties every year, sometimes we do experiences. Last year I took my daughter and one friend to a Princess Spa but the year before she had a big tea party birthday. I think it depends on the age and the child. Always remember there is no one right way to be low waste, the point is that you try!
For my youngest son, Lucas, first birthday we did a small family and close friends gathering at the house. The grand total for the party including food, décor, presents and cake? $80! That’s a huge decrease from the last kids party I threw at a whopping $300! I’m constantly questioning why I didn’t go low waste any sooner!
What I really aim for while cutting out waste is using what I have on hand! I have 4 kids, the stock up in my craft box is ridiculous. How did I accumulate so much stuff? Now I’m using it all up, not buying anymore and finding more sustainable options for the future parties.
And guess what? We had good food, fun times and didn’t compromise a good party! Since it was a first birthday I was able to cut some corners as far as activities since most the guest were adults.
Invites – Ahh technology, we used Facebook events to send out our invite. Great way to keep everyone updated with information too and send a little reminder a day or two before. For the bigger kids future parties we will find a sustainable physical invitation. For this low key party Facebook events was all we needed.
Activities – We did set up the porch games – giant jenga and funnel pong and we have a bubble machine the little kids played in for a little while. The kids that were there played laser tag and basically just ran in and out of the house doing who knows what. Plus, we have 3 kids bedrooms and an arts/crafts room full of kid toys and games. My daughter played in her room with some of the guest for a good hour!
Décor – We did a “transportation theme” since Baby Lucas loves anything with an engine – cars, trucks, vacuums, lawn mowers, etc. My friends made the cake and cupcakes – which turned out adorable! We used the older boys stack of hot wheels, tractors and trucks as décor on the table and paper lanterns to hang above the food table. One thing we are completely omitting from all parties are balloons! Balloons are not one of the biggest chocking hazards for small children they are just another unnecessary plastic pollution problem that also use up helium which is a non renewable resource.
Food – We stuck with the basics: Strawberries, grapes and pineapple for fruit. Carrots and celery with ranch dip for veggies. Pretzels, chips, salsa and guacamole for crunchy flavorful snacks. Main dish was a vegan shepherds pie, which I substituted some ingredients and omitted others and it turned out delicious! Will definitely be making this one again for a dinner. We used all our own dishware and silverware to cut out the plastic of those one time use disposable utensils and paper goods. We only provided ice lemon water to drink but some adults brought their own alcohol in glass bottles which we recycled. We did use paper napkins, plastic solo cups and some paper plates for cake just because we already had them sitting in our pantry.
Presents – We asked for none since Lucas isn’t much of a toy player – I suggested presents for family like clothes, books, puzzles or even money to his account. Of course grandma wanted to buy him something cool so she got him a water activity table which not only did Lucas love but all his brothers and sister.
Party favors – I baked my vegan chocolate chip cookies and stuck them in bags I had leftover from previous years. This was way more exciting to most of the kids than those little plastic toys that end up in the trash.
Even though we produced trash, used plastic and weren’t 100% vegan or waste free, it was a great step in the right direction for our future parties and a huge cutback from previous brithdays. I learned a lot from our first experience, used up some plastic items I needed to get rid of and Lucas got to spend the day with all his favorite people.