Even kids can be taught to recycle when you make it cool with a green birthday party. With recycling, repurposing and imagination, a child's party can be fun and eco-friendly!
Parents often find that the time taken to plan and set up a birthday party is only surpassed by the time it takes to clean up afterward. Often the waste is astounding, as plastic forks, wrapping paper, piñata remains, and more are thrown in the can. There are several fun ways you can create a re-birthday for your child that takes recycling to a whole new level. Step-by-step instructions for each of these projects are easily found by searching the internet. This article is simply to jump-start your imagination so you can plan your own re-birthday party!
1. Create your own piñata – Kids will delight in helping to create their very own piñata. Chances are you have the basics laying around at home – old newspaper, balloons, and paper-mache paste (flour, water and sugar). The shape is limited only by your child’s imagination!
2. Plantable invitations – Parents can buy invitations laced with flower seeds, but it is surprisingly easy (and cheaper!) to make your own. The technique is the same as making recycled paper using old paper, water and a blender; just add seeds. When you mail out each invitation, place instructions inside for each guest to save their card. At the party, serve ‘dirt-cake’ in small terracotta pots. Everyone can take their pot home and use it to plant their card! [dirt-cake recipe at end of article]
3. Bottle-cap party favors – Your guests will love these trendy necklaces! Look through old magazines to find cool graphics, pictures or perhaps the first letter of each kid’s name and cut out in a neat circle. Place the circle inside a *new* bottle cap and cover with jewelry glaze to give it a finished 3-d effect. Used bottle caps will have sharp edges. There are two options to assemble the necklaces. The easiest is to simply hot glue a chain or ribbon to the back. For a more lasting piece, flatten the bottle cap with a mallet and hammer then punch a hole in the flattened rim using a nail and hammer; thread a small ring through the hole and a ribbon/chain through the ring and it’s done!
4. Present wrapping – To save on the yards and yards of wrapping paper waste, there are many options. Write a note to the parent of each guest explaining that you are having a re-birthday party. Ask them to bring gifts in reusable gift bags or consider a ‘green’ wrapping such as old newspaper - the comics section is fun, magazine pages - great for pre-teens, or brown paper that can then be decorated by the giver using stickers, glitter, whatever they like. You may be worried that this sounds as if everyone is expected to bring a gift, so perhaps start by stating that their presence alone is the best present for your child, however if they will be wrapping something, to please consider…. You get the idea.
5. Dishes – No one enjoys washing dishes. We just don’t; it’s part of our make-up as human beings. However, if we are to ever truly make a difference and avoid pointless waste, it is a necessary evil. There is almost always another adult who sticks around afterwards to help clean up; with a few people working, how long does it really take to wash up 15 plates and forks? If you are completely against having to wash dishes, there are biodegradable plates out there, but that doesn’t go very far in saving the other kind of green. Another idea is to save tin pie plates throughout the year and use those. Recycling for your wallet and the earth!
Dirt Cake – This recipe is so simple, but kids and adults alike always ask for seconds! As much fun to serve as to eat, line a giant flower pot with foil, fill it with dirt cake and top with fake flowers. Guests will be surprised and amused when you announce dessert and simply pull the flowers out of the centerpiece!
½ stick of butter
8 oz. cream cheese
1 cup powered sugar
3 ½ cups of milk
2 boxes vanilla instant pudding
12 oz. cool whip
2 packages of Oreos (the store-brand cookies work fine, as well)
Cream butter, cream cheese, and powdered sugar together. Mix pudding with milk, fold in the cool whip. Stir pudding mixture into the cream cheese mixture.
Break Oreos up into blender or food processor; blend until fine. The cream will ‘disappear’ and it will look like dirt!
Alternate layers of Oreo ‘dirt’ with layers of cream cheese mixture, beginning and ending with ‘dirt.’
Top with flowers, gummy worms, dyed-green coconut, etc. Making it in a pan with ‘dirt hills’ and putting toy monster trucks or motocross bikes on top is a fun idea as well. Enjoy!