Birthday parties can be delightful events but they can also be stressful and very unhealthy for your children and the earth. With the stress on many parents these days to invite whole classes of children, to entertain, feed and send them home with a party bag, it is no wonder that we are left with piles of left over junk food, plastic plates and cups and plastic party bags filled with cheap, made in china toys, that usually break the same day and are full with chemical packed candies.
So how to keep your little ones smiling and the earth green?
Well it is easier and often cheaper than you may believe, it’s all about changing your perspective and being a little radical, and not conforming.
There are so many ideas out there for all age groups. The traditional games are still loved by every child, the delight and anticipation of pass the parcel is one of my favorites, add an extra twist with questions, forfeits and games between each layer. Musical chairs or statues, gets them dancing and burns that energy off. A treasure hunt gets their minds working too and is good for all ages, for the young ones use picture clues.
Parties are not just about games, I took my daughter to a party recently where they all decorated their own cakes, it kept them all very busy and very happy for about half an hour, heaven for us nattering mums! If you don’t want to go the sweet route, let them make their own pizzas, this is a definite winner for everybody, as you are also cutting out the stress of preparing food.
If you really want to you can have a green theme for the party too, get your children’s creative juices flowing and get recycling all the wrapping paper from presents, you can make giant paper pompoms (this is another great cheat as it also gives them something to take home too!).
Food & Party Bags
Fast, convenient, junk food is very tempting and I do understand time is precious but there are options just as easy, sometimes more fun for the children and you, and definitely healthier. The pizza option we’ve already mentioned, other options that the kids can get involved in too, are making burgers, fruit smoothies and a taco bar. My daughter’s last birthday cake was made from organic wholewheat flour, organic cocoa, organic eggs and goat’s milk, and the kids loved it.
As for the party favors, well we’ve covered the present with a make your own craft, and harking back to my childhood, a piece of scrummy birthday cake wrapped in a paper napkin (and no bag!). An idea I think I might use next year is a plant pot and a packet of seeds, they paint and decorate the pot in the party, then just pop a slice of cake in there with some flower or veggie seeds. If you feel you need to add some more bulk, try dried fruits and fruit leathers, fresh popcorn is always a winner too.
“I always recommend to friends and family to send eco-friendly ecards for birthdays, so as not to be left with a big pile of paper cards. But at the end of a party, you could be left with heaps of disposable plates, cups and burst balloons, all very unfriendly to the environment.
I keep a stack of plastic cups, plates and bowls at home all year round, as they are supremely handy when friends come to play and they are the best for parties too. If you really can’t get your head around washing up after, there are plenty of greener, biodegradable options available today.
As for decorations, balloons are quite nasty things, when you dig a bit deeper you discover a plethora of chemicals, there are eco-options made from latex but as yet I have only found them sold to performers here in Israel. So no balloons, big deal, get creative with your kids, paper chains, paper pompoms, all made with old wrapping paper, newspapers, enjoy!