04 May 2009

An Eco-Friendly 4th! :)

During my hiatus from blogging, Fiona turned 4! For her birthday, we splurged and went on a family holiday to Disney World with some of our closest friends, The Katzmans (more to come soon). Though we had a blast celebrating, Fiona still really wanted to have a gathering at the park with her friends.

We decided to keep it low key and simple. Fiona's past birthday parties have taken place at a local park and at Ijams Nature Center. This year, she wanted to go to a park we had been frequenting more and more lately, Anchor Park. When asked what "theme" she wanted, she chose one of her favourite things - kitty cats.

As we began planning for the party, we knew we wanted to make it earth friendly. We started with the invitations... rather than purchase the invites, we made them from art supplies that Fiona already had. The invitations became a project for the whole family complete with assembly line precision. While I would really love to get to "present-free parties" (children these days simply have too much!), I didn't think Fiona was quite old enough to understand the concept. So instead, we talked to her about doing a project that would help someone else. After much discussion, we came up with the idea of collecting cat food for the homeless kitties at our local Humane Society. We added to the bottom of the invitation "please bring a bag of Purina brand cat or kitten food to be donated to the Humane Society".

After we distributed the party invites, we began on the "nuts and bolts" of the party. Paper plates, napkins, decorations, etc. create most of the waste at any party. So instead of items that would clutter up the landfill, we worked hard at finding earth-friendly alternatives.

For plates, I found a great option...VerTerra's biodegradable palm-leaf plates! The plates were a great conversation piece and looked beautiful on the tables!

VerTerra's plates:

* can be used in the microwave, oven and refrigerator
* made from 100% renewable plant matter - fallen palm leaves (not even harvested!)
* no chemicals, dyes, or waxes
* completely biodegradable and compostable - they will biodegrade in 20 - 60 days
* are made by a fair labour company that treats its workers with respect

For cups, I purchased Preserve's recycled tumblers... The tumblers are made with 100% recycled plastic, study and reusuable, BPA-free, and able to be recycled wherever #5 plastics are accepted.

For napkins, I bought Seventh Generations's recycled napkins and stamped them with kitty cat faces. We didn't need cutlery as our menu consisted of all finger foods.

The park has pretty strict guidelines about no banners, signs, etc. but we managed to delicately hang up a simple homemade banner. The banner was inspired by Lucie's blog.

The park itself always provides enough entertainment - kids just love being outdoors - but we planned a few activities. First, we decided to give each guest their own birdhouse to decorate and take home. (My friend recently decorated a birdhouse with her daughter and she told me that after they hung it up, they found 11 little eggs in the house!) We thought that the bird - cat relationship tied in loosely with the theme. Next, we created a "pin the tail on the cat" board for each guest to see who could come closest. Both activities were well received as seen in the pictures below. I couldn't believe how dilligent all the guests were with decorating their birdhouses.

The birthday girl

Friend, Olivia, creating a masterpiece

A house any bird would be proud to inhabit

Mid-game - before the victor had been declared

Refreshments consisted of typical kiddie fare - organic fruit & vegetables, cheese & crackers, juice, and pizza. Instead of a store bought cake, Fiona asked me to make her cupcakes again this year. I tinkered with the idea of a kitty cat face, but decided to do a simple paw print made with Cadbury chocolate buttons (from England - one of Fi's favourites) and chocolate chips.

one batch of cupcakes

For goody bags, I ordered reusuable linen drawstring bags I found online. Each guest received a Yummy Earth organic lollipop, a couple of Endangered Species chocolates, a cute little Buzzy Seeds sensitive plant that I found in the $1.00 bin at Target (again, a stretch with the cat theme but a kind of "cat nip") and a reusuable cat-themed cloth napkin, made by Fiona's "Gigi" (my Mom).

the goody bags were a huge hit!

After the festivities were over, the children continued to play together - enjoying the beauty of the day and the park's beautiful environment. The party ended on a high note with a train racing by blowing its whistle.

skipping stones at the lake was a favourite, unplanned, activity!

here are just a few of the guests who loved being close to the water

It was another fabulous birthday celebration for our Fiona. From the beautiful weather, to the outpouring of support for our cat food collection, and sweet compliments on the party being both original and environmentally-friendly - a good time was had by all! I will soon post pictures of Fiona delivering the donations to the Humane Society. Until then, I hope you will consider incorporating earth-friendly ideas and products into your next gathering.

If you would like to learn more about green parties, please visit the links below.

Eco Child's Play blog

Not Quite Crunchy Parent goodie bag ideas

Kiwi Magazine Birthday Party Ideas


Ashley's Mom said...

Kimberly, thanks for stopping by my blog. It's great to *meet* you, and I am loving exploring your blog.

Deborah (Ashley's Mom at pipecleanedreams.com)

GinSpaghetti said...

Please oh please write a book just for me! Looks like such a fun party. I *love* the earth friendly spin!!! And I especially love the giving back part, I hope the kitties got lots of good food!

Cute bird houses!

What a great afternoon!!! Happy 4th Fiona!!!

Jen said...

Wow! What a wonderful party. I am so stealing some of your ideas for Harper's birthday in June. She wants a Bolt birthday so I could easily adapt it to a dog theme!!! Thanks for being such an inspiration.

When you get a chance e-mail me your address so that I can send you your cozy!!

LeeAnne said...

What wonderful party ideas! I so admire the way you practice what you preach when it comes to green living ... I'll admit to taking the easy way out sometimes, and then I regret it later. We're looking at the Chatt. Nature Center for Maggie's 5th bday this fall, and I'd love to incorporate some of your earth-friendly ideas. Thanks for sharing!!

Doreen/www.MomGoesGreen.com said...

Bravo for all of your amazing efforts! You better believe I'm putting some of these ideas in long-term memory!

A Roller Girl said...

i just LOVE this kimberly! you are definitely one of my top green momma idols! when i have children, i want to have awesome earth-friendly parties for my kids like you do! :)