Sunday, December 13, 2015

Tips for a "Green" Kid's Birthday Party

Nothing quite tests your green-ness like having kids...and later throwing birthday parties for them. Plastic plates, balloons, and sugar-filled treats are a way of life in these activities and to do anything differently feels like going against the grain of tradition and modern-day marketing, but since I like to try and green all aspects of my life, kid birthday parties are no exception.

But now that Avery's four and Mila just turned two, I've got several parties under my belt and I feel ready to share the tips I've learned (through trial and error, research, and luck) that help me to have "greener" kid's birthday parties. So let's get started with those tips.

First and foremost comes the planning. Since I'm pretty type-A, I have created a "Party Planning Page" that I use for the girl's parties so I know I'm covering everything. Here's what it looks like:

As you can see there are areas for me to note the theme of the party, which for Mila was "Sofia the First," the colors that I will be using (dark purple, light purple, white and gold), as well as other details such as what food we would be serving, how we would decorate different areas of our home for the party, and even some plans as to what Mila would be wearing. Here's how some of it came to life for Mila's party...

Here's my dinning room, and main party decoration central. 

The party usually extends into my living room where I always do a photo
banner above our fireplace. 

So now that you know how I prepare for the party, let me share some of the ways I make it a green one...

No time for the video? Here's a look at some of the tips I shared:

1. Use pom poms instead of balloons.  If you've seen any of my other party posts from the past you know I love to use pom poms to decorate and this party was no exception. I like to use these instead of balloons because I can save them after the party is done and reuse them again in the future. Since I've used them in many of my parties over the past few years I've started a bit of a collection of them in my basement and I organize them by color or type and store them in laundry baskets. This helps them to stay fluffy, not flat and it's pleasing to the eye (or at least to my eye!).
My pom pom storage. With pom poms on top and other party supplies
(cupcake holders, pitchers, plates, etc.) on the bottom shelf.

The view from the other side.
In case you're wondering I usually get my pom poms from craft supply stores like Hobby Lobby or Party City since they have pre-cut ones and all I have to do is fluff them out. But I do occasionally make my own, here's the instructions on how I do that.

2. Use electronic invitations instead of paper ones. Usually I love to make my own invitations in Photoshop or through a seller on Etsy, but this year I was a little behind on my game and realized by the time I got the pictures ordered, printed, and mailed out it would have been too close to Mila's actual party date to do any good, so I went with electronic invitations instead.

To do this I snapped a picture of her holding a sign with the party info and text and emailed it to our friends and family who were invited to the party. Don't get me wrong, I love real invitations you can stick on your fridge or in scrapbooks, but if time is short or you feel like skipping the cost of invites, an electronic version could be a great option for you.

My little Sofia the First party "inviter"
3. Use reusable cups, plates and silverware. I've got a set of small mason jars that I like to re-use each time we have a party instead of paper/plastic cups. Usually I find a cute set of paper straws to jazz them up a bit. I found these cool chevron ones from Hobby Lobby that you can see below.

I also have a set of smaller, white dinner plates that I reuse for each party as well that way I don't have to go out and buy paper plates. Yes, this does mean you'll have to spend time after the party washing dishes, but I'll already be washing them anyway, so I figure I might as well save some money each party and just have the plates, cups, pitchers, and silverware all set. 

You may have seen above that I have paper napkins...gasp! I know, they were too cute to pass up though. In dream world I would have a set of cloth napkins to match each possible party color, but in real life, I just don't have time to make those right now, so I'm settling for these. True, I could just use the cloth napkins I already have, but their semi-worn look would clash quite a bit with the party decor. Maybe next year! 

4. Make your own food. Given my rather restrictive gluten-free, vegan, no-GMO diet it's much easier for us to make our own party food instead of trying to buy or cater it. So here's some of the yummy treats and snacks we had planned for Mila's party.

1. Fruit salad, a go-to for any party at my house since my girls are fruit fanatics!
2. Fresh veggies (carrots and celery)
3. My "Healthy Vegan Ranch Dip" (for dipping carrots or chips)
4. Trader Joe's Crinkle Cut Kettle Chips
5. My mother-in-laws favorite "Homemade Salsa"
6. Organic Tortilla Chips
7. "Knock-Off Rolos" from (on the other side of the table)

As for the cupcakes I used this recipe from Avery's Youtube channel, "Healthy Vegan Kid" and this "Healthier Vegan Frosting" from my channel. 

5. Instead of balloons use vinyl decals for decorations.  I'm always tempted by the cool balloons at Party City, but I know they won't last long and for not much more in price you can find vinyl decals on Amazon that last for months or even years! Here's the Sofia the First Vinyl Decal I used for Mila's party.  And after we're done with the decals for the party I often end up putting them up in their bedrooms for decoration.

Here's Avery with her "Princess Pea" vinyl decal
from her "Super Why 4th Birthday".

6. Make your own outfit or find it on Etsy. My mother-in-law made this TWO glitter onesie with an iron-on decal for Mila.  And I got her purple tutu with a gold bow in the back from the seller "TeenyTiddleTots" on Etsy, here is a link to that. But using Etsy is one of my favorite ways to find unique outfits and support small business.

Here's a cute birthday outfit I got for Avery off
Etsy for her "2nd Birthday Party" with the
Lora theme. 

Now that you know some of the main ways I go green come birthday party time, here's some more pictures from Mila's 2nd Birthday party...

Waiting for the guests to arrive. Love Mila's hands? "Where's everybody?!"
Oh and curious about Avery's face? She went to a birthday party earlier in the day
and there was an amazing makeup artist who did the lovely butterfly on her face.  ( :

Opening presents with some help from Avery. 

Rockin' her Sofia crown from one of the cards. 

Must put the Sofia shoes back on!

Time to sing "Happy Birthday," except she looks a bit freaked out. 

She was all smiles once we finished the song
and told her she could eat!

Her favorite thing to do? Eat the frosting
off the op with a fork. : P

She took over the chips and salsa near the end of the party!

Here I am with my party-planning partner in crime,
my mom. She's the best.

Hope you had a good birthday Mila!
Do you have any other green kid birthday party tips to share? Post them below, I'd love to hear them. Or if you have any questions about Mila's party feel free to post those there too.

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