Monday, May 21, 2007

You Say It's Your Birthday!

I have two children, each six months apart (born in different years...two children born six months apart would be impossible. Wouldn't it? Hold on...). So that means every six months I'm hosting a birthday party. For Sprout's upcoming fete in August, I am planning on throwing a little bit of green into the mix.

First, Green Nana came up with a great suggestion - on the invitation include "Regifted Gifts Only Please". I know that I have at least a half a dozen toys, new and used, that would be perfectly acceptable regifts. That being said, I suppose there is no need to give (or receive) toys at all. In celebration of their daughter's adoption, one of our friends suggested buying a cow in her honor (or a bee for that matter). In keeping with their wishes, my co-workers and I decided to purchase a number of $10 mosquito bed nets. $10 seems like a small price to pay to prevent the spread of malaria, the number one killer of children in Africa.

For Pip's birthday last March, I purchased compostable cups made from corn, had each child put flower stickers on the cups (not so compostable), invited them to bring their cup over to the "dirt station" (my husband, with a bag of dirt), asked them to select their choice of seed (sunflower, pumpkin or cucumber), smushed it down, and voila, they each had their own seedling for the summer (pumpkins germinated most successfully, by the way). It was a great outdoor activity and helped them understand that the food they eat and flowers they enjoy start from seeds they can easily plant themselves.

The GreenGuide has some suggestions for hosting eco-friendly birthday parties written by Catherine Zandonella:

"Build your party around a kid-friendly theme such as pupppies, zoo animals, or dinosaurs." The idea here is to provide kids with an opportunity to have fun (read: seeing puppies at a shelter) with the opportunity to give back (read: collecting toys and leashes for the animals)

"Check your local fire station to see if they give tours or host parties." The idea here is that volunteer firefighters appreciate the recognition and any donations to the station. In return, party attendees get a cool venue where they can learn about a hot career.

"Let your child choose the theme." It's no suprise to many of you moms out there that children can be incredibly unselfish and like nothing more than to feel important by helping someone out (hence the five hour sweeping of the kitchen floor or the picking out my clothes for work, God bless 'em). So don't guffaw at parties where children bring items to donate instead of toys for the host.

"Hold your party at a local farm, nature center or a city park to help children learn about caring for the environment." This is one of my personal favorites. Nature is free, and although you may need to pay to "rent" the space, the money goes directly to the upkeep of these fabulous community resources.

And two of the easiest ways to go green:

"For your little ones, ages 1 to 2, suggest that guests bring a gently used toy from home instead of buying a new one." I say this tip works for older kids, too.

"Ditch the traditional 'goody bag' full of candy and throw-away plastic toys for an item that the kids make themselves, such as a puppet or princess hat..." or a pumpkin seed in a compostable cup?

After Posting Postscript: I think Mindful Mamma should be called Read Your Mindful Momma. Look at her fabulous post on an actual, real live Green Birthday party!


SusieJ said...

I really like this blog. You have such an amazing ability to turn every subject you can think of into a chance to be "green." What a smart lady you are. As a writer, I'm fascinated to watch you do this, post after post. But as a Mom, I really like your tips -- a lot! Great ideas to get out of the "toy" syndrome.

Gift of Green said...

Thanks, Susie!
You and your blog are definitely an inspiration!

Mary Tsao said...

I'm with you on the no gifts or the re-gifts idea, definitely. For Emily's upcoming 4th birthday we're putting "no gifts, please" on the invites. I love not having a bunch of thank you notes to write and seriously, a bunch of new stuff is just overwhelming for both the kid and the parents. And all that packaging... ugh. Christmas is enough!

The strange thing to me is how a few friends will totally ignore our request and bring a present. Also, I've heard how some moms are offended by the request. That's unfortunate.