I love planning parties for friends and family, but I dread all of the “stuff” that often comes along with them, especially a kid’s birthday party! So this year we set out to create a “less clutter” party for our three-year-old daughter without sacrificing too much of the good old-fashion birthday party fun. We thought it turned out great and most importantly she had a blast! Here are some of the ways we brought in less and added less to the landfill.
Gifts: We asked our guests to bring a new or used children’s book to donate to a local charity in lieu of a present. This was the hardest one for me. I certainly don’t want to take away the joy of getting or giving gifts, or create awkward situations for anyone. That said, I found that I fretted over that more than necessary. People were excited (and relieved) to bring books to donate and if they really wanted to bring her a present then they did, which was fine! She had plenty to open, we took in less, and we donated 22 kid’s books to a local charity.
Favors: One of the biggest items I clean out of my client’s homes is disposable tchotchkes. We bought these adorable jars for $22 from Michael’s, filled them with birdseed, and put a little bird stamp on top. They looked super-cute and guests were already talking about how they were going to reuse the little jars once they’d used the bird seed.
Decorations: For decorations we used flowers, a few balloons, and reused our plastic tablecloth from last year. I think we can get one more year out of the tablecloth and moving forward, I’ll get a cloth one. But if you get a pretty neutral pattern, clean it, and neatly fold it, you can easily reuse these for a few years. In addition to the tablecloth, we were able to reuse our paper balls and banners.
My biggest indulgence was this reusable Happy Birthday sign from Etsy. Not only is it really cute and personalized, it’s something she can look forward to seeing at her birthday every year until she’s a grown up! What’s more, you can reuse the “Happy Birthday” part and just add a new name. As your family grows, you’ve got one banner to serve all your kids.
Reusable Dishes: I had already purchased really sweet little paper plates and cups from Target when my husband and I started thinking about a more landfill-friendly and sustainable alternative. While I loved the way the paper products looked, I was not thrilled with how expensive they were, combined with the fact that they would be thrown in the trash almost immediately. So after a little math, we decided to invest in a set of Preserve Tableware. It will pay for itself after using it four times, compared to buying and discarding four sets of disposable paper plates, cups, and cutlery. It goes in the dishwasher and comes with a durable little bag to store it in. I’m so happy we went this route.
All in all, we feel our choices were successful. We ended up with much less clutter, far less trash, and most important, our daughter and our guests had a wonderful time!