Thank you for attending the 11th Annual Green Gifts Fair! We look forward to seeing you next year!

Alternative Birthday Party Ideas

SARA GROCHOWSKI
Do It Green! Minnesota
Growing up, my birthdays consisted of parents, grandparents,
godparents, a cake, candles, and, since it was summer, endless games of kick
the can, ghost in the graveyard, and flashlight tag. Nowadays, it seems kids
have multiple parties with family, friends, and neighbors and the gifts and
waste grow with each event. As important as it is to honor your child’s
emergence into the world, it is just as fun to plan for parties that have less
waste and may even give back to the environment or community, thus helping create
a cleaner future for birthdays to come.

Label the party a no-waste or "eco" event: Get
your kids and family involved in thinking of creative ways to use what you
already have on hand for decorations and dishes. Encourage family members and
friends to give "gently loved gifts" or presents with no packaging and creative
wrapping. Forgo paper plates in favor of reusable dishware, label recycling and
garbage containers so everyone can find them and separate items accordingly,
and buy in bulk rather than individually wrapped items.

Choose a kid-friendly theme and tie it to a good cause: If
your daughter loves animals, you could bake critter cookies and decorate for
the party with collages of animal pictures cut from magazines. Do some research
together to find a local organization, such as a humane society, that’s in
keeping with your theme. Then encourage guests to bring a gift-leashes, cat
toys, pet food-that your daughter can proudly donate to the shelter.

Have the party at a local farm, nature center, or city park:
Engage the children in a treasure hunt to learn more about nature.
Hire a guide through a local park district, check into a Plant a Tree program,
or go apple picking.

Rather than gifts, ask for donations to adopt an animal: Choose
to omit gift-giving all together and instead ask guests to make donations that
your daughter can use to adopt an animal through the World Wildlife
Federation’s birthday program. That could even net her a cool plush version of
the adopted species, which might help take the sting out of the absence of presents.
Follow up with the party guests after to let them know what animal was adopted.

It may be difficult to spark your child’s interest in an idea
other than receiving mountains of beautifully wrapped gifts. But combining
green values with themes children love can generate a meaningful and fun
birthday.

Read Up
Act Locally

ON THE WEB!

World Wildlife Adopt an Animal, worldwildlife.org

Oxfam,
oxfamamericaunwrapped.com

Eco Birthdays

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