The Greenest Gift- 5 Easy Tips for Planet-Friendly Party Decor

Some of the biggest gifts we can give our kids are the lessons of gratitude and respect for resources: we want the planet in good shape for them as they grow! We can do this and be colorfully celebratory. Read on for tips to make your birthday parties more green and colorful.giant candle photo booth at wishcraft workshop

  • Make or invest in reusable decor. Just like other major holidays for which we anticipate reuse, we can approach birthday celebrations the same way.  Go big like a giant candle, photo booth frame or birthday cake hat. Having something with which the child can interact gives us the extra joy of watching them grow relative to the size of the item.
  • Big celebrations demand a big, colorful response and sourcing of disposable items, such as balloons or paper goods, can be done thoughtfully. We love Luft Balloon who make a sustainably sourced, bio-degradable balloon filled with regular air instead of helium (the latter of which is not a renewable resource.) And they come in EVERY color.
  • Goodie bags can be displaced by using some of the party time to make or do something memorable. Most goodie bag stuff is thrown out anyway making it wasteful of money, time and resources. Visually merchandising the supplies for the activity becomes decor in itself.
  • A good host considers the safety and comfort of all guests. Planning for allergies, sensory sensitives or other special needs can lead to great decor and is one of the reasons we're still a big fan of cupcakes. Assembled on a reusable cupcake tower they can look more grand than cake and they are easy to serve, equally tasty, can accommodate special dietary needs without being as exclusive (it's a big bummer if a child with allergies is offered a granola bar instead of a slice of cake.) This also allows for height,  an important factor in wow decorating, allowing the eyes to be delighted at multiple levels. We love Flirty Cupcakes-- they are incredibly delicious, offer a gluten-free option and are beautifully decorated.
  • Consider having a quiet activity like a collaborative coloring to start right away as some kids may be overwhelmed by walking into an active group. The giant paper and crayons or (washable!) markers makes for another pop of color while also helping to set the tone and welcome everyone.
  • A full heart and a smile is our best accessory, our personal decor. Look for opportunities for young hosts to practice leadership and gratitude such as helping to introduce guests as they arrive, saying "thank you" and keeping the gratitude going with hand-made thank you's.

[Excerpts from this post are featured in the April 2016 Green issue of Chicago Parent magazine.]