Be Green and have an Eco-Friendly Party

You can start teaching kids about being “green” at an early age by going environmentally friendly for your next party. If you think about it, parties can create a lot of waste, with all of the disposable paper products, goody bags, wrapping paper, greeting cards, and even packages that hold gifts. Hosting an environmentally friendly party is not only good for the planet, it’s also fun and easy.

Choose a Green theme:

  • Choose a theme related to the environment, such as a “Rainforest Party,” “Garden Party,” or “Back to Nature Party.” Plan your invitations, decorations, food, and even costumes to match the theme.

Consider Carbon-Free Invitations:

  • Let your computer-savvy birthday kid use an online invitation service, such as Evite or Punchbowl, to create personalized, paper-free invitations.

Decorate with the Earth in Mind:

  • Be creative and choose decorations that can be recycled or sent home with the kids as party favors.
  • Tie inflated balloons around the room to give your party a festive atmosphere, and send a balloon home with each guest.
  • Cover tables with a reusable plastic that can be stored for other parties, or fabric tablecloth and cloth napkins.
  • Set out washable plastic dishes, cups, and silverware.

Encourage Environmental Activities:

  • Let the guests decorate canvas tote bags with fabric pens and iron-on decals, so they have a new, reusable bag.
  • Pair the party into partners and go on a Nature Walk in the backyard. Have one partner lead the other while they are blindfolded. Ask the blindfolded guest to notice and comment on how things feel and smell, and what they can hear and sense.
  • Direct guests to go on a Bug Safari. Have them record what they find in small notebooks to see how many different bugs they can spot. When they return, make a colorful bug chart with the whole group’s results.
  • Make crafts using recycled materials such as boxes, wood, old clothes, bits of paper, string or yarn, and so on.

Serve Earth-Friendly Foods:

  • Buy snacks from your local Farmer’s Market, and let the kids create their own concoctions from cut-up fruits and veggies, chopped nuts and seeds, peanut butter and hummus spreads, and whole-wheat crackers.
  • Make your own cake to avoid all the packaging that comes with the store-bought cakes. Or, let the kids decorate their own cupcakes using reusable silicon cupcake holders.

Rethink Gifts:

  • Instead of buying gifts, encourage your child and their guests to collect a toy for charity, and donate them to the local fire station.
  • Ask each of the guests to bring a gently used toy or game to recycle, and have a gift exchange with the kids.

Give Useful Favor Bags:

  • Instead of filling plastic bags with little throw-away trinkets that may pollute the environment, send the guests home with a clay pot and seeds for planting their own flowers. Tie together decorations and favor bags to conserve.

Note: Adult supervision is required when using balloons. Please read all warnings and precautions on the Balloon Time carton.

Written by: Penny Warner

Penny Warner has more than 25 years of experience as an author and party planner. She has published more than 50 books, including 16 specific to parties. Additionally, Warner writes a weekly newspaper column on family life, penned a column for Sesame Street Parents magazine and has appeared on several regional and national TV morning programs. Her latest book, 'How to Host a Killer Party', debuted in February 2010 from NAL/Penguin.

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