get your party on, minimalist style

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Things have changed a lot in the last 30 years.  I remember attending birthday parties when I was young, and they were very nearly always hosted in the birthday boy or girl’s home.  Either that or at McDonald’s.  Things were a lot simpler back then.

While you can still have your birthday party at McDonald’s, children’s parties seem to be getting a lot more elaborate as time goes on.  We’re planning a minimalist, eco-friendly version of a kid’s birthday party around here this week.  Here’s a few ideas we’ve come up with to keep the event both fun and earth friendly, minimalist style.

  • Host friends in your home or at a park.  Hosting a party in your home or at a park can help ensure that the party will not only cost less, but that there will be less waste generated overall from the party.  Our home is too small to host more than a couple of people at a time, but we’re lucky enough to have a lounge in our building that is a perfect area for hosting friends and family.  We’ll be taking advantage of this common space in our building to host my son’s birthday party, and we’ll be using the yard-sized grassy area for the kids to play outside if the weather cooperates.
  • Use reusable plates, bowls and glasses.  I’d considered using disposable plates, but I’d have to buy them.  And then throw them away.  Seems a shame when I already have perfectly good dishes and glasses on hand.  Sure, I’ll have to wash the dishes when we’re finished with them, but I figure that’s what my dishwasher is for anyway.
  • Prepare food at home with fresh ingredients, rather than buying pre-made food.  I’ll be toting my popcorn maker to the party and making fresh, air-popped popcorn for the kids.  I’ll also be making my famous hummous in advance of the party, as well as serving some fresh fruit and vegetables for guests to nosh on.  It’s less expensive to prepare your own party food, and it’s less wasteful than buying food that has a ton of packaging.
  • Ensure anything bought from the store has packaging that can be recycled.  Even though I’ll be buying fresh food for the party, some things still come in packaging that can’t be escaped.  Strawberries come in a plastic clamshell, blueberries come in a cardboard container, and the garbanzo beans that will later be turned into hummous come in an aluminum can – thankfully, these packaging items can at least be recycled.  If you recycle where you can, you’ll be able to keep your party trash to a bare minimum.
  • Entertain with what you have on hand.  I’ll be organizing an art project for the party for kids who want to play inside, and we’ll have a soccer game and Hot Wheels car wash set up for the kids outside.  We had a similar set-up last year (and way more kids), and it worked perfectly.  We’ll be using toys, sports equipment and craft supplies that we already have on hand at home, and we won’t be buying anything extra for the party.
  • Eliminate loot bags.  For my son’s birthday party last year I did prepare loot bags for the kids, but I won’t be doing the same this year.  I don’t really like loot bags (I can’t stand the junk that goes in them), but I know the kids love them, so I’m making a compromise.  For this year’s event, we’ve chosen a small toy for each child – the boys will be getting a small Lego toy and the girls will be receiving a Playmobil figurine.  Both of these companies produce high quality toys, and giving our young guests a toy that is not destined for the garbage the moment they arrive home makes me feel better about the whole loot bag conundrum.
By having a minimalist birthday party, it not only makes for less waste, but it’s a strategy that saves money too.  Keeping things to a minimum in the “stuff” department, will also ensure we won’t be left with a lot of extra things when the party is over.  We’re just making do with what we’ve got on hand in the entertainment department, and we’ll be having delicious food, a yummy birthday cake, and lots of great conversation with friends.

How do you do kids birthday parties?  Do you go all out, party mama style?  Or do you like to keep things a bit more low key?

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