When my daughter Athena turned eight, she decided to ask her friends to bring donations to two charities: Wildlife Images in Grants Pass and Friends of Trees in Portland, Oregon, so that instead of getting presents she could help animals and plants.
She also asked her friends to walk and bike to her birthday party, and to wrap gently used presents (if they decided to bring those instead of cash) in recycled gift wrap.
We made goodie bags out of an old calendar and did not use any paper plates or disposable napkins.
Though the real fashion, even in our trying-to-be-forward-thinking town is to have plastic goodie bags filled with plastic junk made in China, a store-bought cake wrapped in plastic, and everything disposable, there does seem to be a trend towards greener or more sustainable parties.
I wrote an article about this for the Back Page of the Ashland Daily Tidings.
The full text is here.
Here’s an excerpt:
When Paul Giancarlo suggested to his not-yet-6-year-old twins that they host a “green” birthday party, his son Gabriel burst into tears. His mom, Mary Shaffer, asked her son why he was crying and Gabriel said that he didn’t like that color and he didn’t want everything to be green.
But Giancarlo and Shaffer had something else in mind. They wanted birthday guests to bring gently used presents instead of going to a store to buy new things.
“Once we established what we meant and told the twins kids would bring them something that they had played with and thought was really cool, they got into it,” Giancarlo, who is 58 and lives in Ashland, said. “They received lots of nice gifts that had special meaning because they had been important to their friends. Some people made CDs of favorite stories or songs, and there were great books and toys.”
The sidebar is called Green(er) Parties At A Glance:
• Ask guests to bring gently used or handmade gifts instead of store-bought items.
• Wrap presents in newspaper, old maps, calendar pages, or cloth.
• Instead of presents, ask guests to bring a donation to an Oregon charity, such as the Ashland Food Project, Wildlife Images Rehabilitation and Education Center or Friends of Trees.
• Skip the plastic bags: Make goodie bags out of old calendar pages or recyclable paper bags.
• Buy in bulk: Don’t serve store-bought treats with lots of packaging, instead get bulk items (including candy) or make your own.
• Offer special prizes to guests who walk or bike to the party instead of driving.
• Use regular plates and silverware instead of disposable items.
• Make a homemade, recycled piñata by dipping stripes of newspaper in a combination of equal parts flour and warm water and spreading these over an inflated balloon. Once dry cut a hole in the top and fill with gently used party favors and bulk treats. Decorate with soy-based inks and compost the piñata after it’s been broken.
• Wash, save and reuse birthday candles.