Ok, so granted this is not a true ‘make’ like previous posts, but it was something I came up against recently when Oldest had her 4th birthday. Oldest is still in denial about being 4, but we had a lovely time celebrating none the less! Where possible, I tried to avoid buying things unnecessarily. Here’s what happened…
An important fact to note at this point is that I don’t feel the need to keep up with the Jones’s. If however, you would like to have an all-singing-all-dancing birthday party for your little one, whilst sticking to sustainable principles, check out Little Cherry party supplies. Little Cherry are a company based in England that specialise in planet-friendly party supplies from party bags, to disposable crockery to biodegradable balloons.
We, as a family, have decided to do things our way, a way that we feel comfortable with without too much stress. We were headed to an SU camp two days after Oldest had her birthday, so I had lots on my mind anyway!
So the first thing that people usually think of around birthdays are the the cakes. Oldest decided that she wanted a banana cake and a cherry cake, (very specific, right?!) so I decided to go for loaf tin cakes. The advantage of loaf cakes is that they’re usually not over complicated and cook well.
I googled for a really simple loaf banana cake and a light fruit cake with cherries in. Both worked out fine and I was able to make and freeze ahead of time, hurrah!
Icing – I admit, I did cheat here, I bought pre-made icing. It was my way to get through a week of busyness without losing my sanity! I have allowances for pre-made things once in a while as long as it doesn’t become the norm.
We went to the park for the day with friends, cake and food to celebrate Oldest’s birthday. I decided that it would be good to have an activity so we took a ball and two different age-appropriate scavenger hunts (check out Pinterest, it’s full of such ideas!).
Oldest had tried out the hunts at home (she saw me printing them and couldn’t resist) and absolutely loved them. Nothing required except an outside space and something to write with (and a bigger person to help).
A big hit! I’ll definitely be doing this again.
For the party food I bought a massive pack of rolls from Tesco and filled with ham, cheese or smoked salmon (Oldest’s favourite). The plastic packaging was so big that it actually said to be recycled with carrier bags, one more tick for green living 🙂
I also brought the loaf cakes that I’d defrosted and iced very simply with plain icing and candles. Fruit was always going to be a must so we just bought some on the way from our local Lidl.
I asked everyone to bring their own drinks so I didn’t have to think about this and this gave the highest chance of re-usable water bottles.
Because we went to the park, decorations weren’t really a requirement, but I did want to do something special for Oldest.
I duly dug out bunting of various descriptions, some bought, some made. The advantage of bunting over balloons is that it lasts for years, possibly decades or even generations depending on its usage and quality! It looks pretty, saves resources and money and can be put up pretty much anywhere. I did take some to the park, but didn’t end up putting it up.
I also had some shiny stars on strings left over from an SU camp I did a few years back, so I put these up too. Youngest loved the stars, and kept singing ‘Twinkle Twinkle’ whenever he saw them! These, unfortunately, won’t last decades, but I’ll keep them going as long as I can!
If you’d like to buy some ready made eco-friendly decorations, check out Little Cherry party supplies.
You’ll maybe not be surprised to hear that for me, cards aren’t an essential for birthdays, especially for small children. We have a modestly sized house, and only one place we can really put cards.
We could try hang them up like Christmas cards, but this would take a great deal of time and effort. Oldest, just turned 4, received some cards, but gave them about 10 seconds notice then forgot all about them. We have decided we will probably do one card per birthday per child, but not for Youngest until he’s at least 4. They don’t mind not having cards, and they are a waste of resources if they’re not appreciated.
For me, cards are an item I can happily live without as then I face the decision of what to do with them the day after. Usually in our house, cards are binned (recycled) within 24 hours.
HOWEVER…if you do still fancy giving cards, how about something with novelty value but still in line with green living? Check out The Exotic Paper Company, a company based in England producing paper and paper based products from 100% recycled paper/card and/or with the interesting ingredient of elephant/reindeer/rhino poo!
Here’s an incentive to buy recycled paper/card(s):
It takes about 50% of the total energy to produce recycled paper rather than pulping wood.
What’s more, you can go and see the paper mill where the Exotic Paper company make their paper, it’s a full visitor attraction!
A little while before Oldest’s birthday I had decided that I needed to tell family that we had decided to crack down on unwanted presents. If you’ve read my blog pages about why I started writing, you’ll know that I find clutter a stressful thing to live with, and plastic is usually the cause of this.
The older the children get, the less easy it will be for me to secretly take away things which just clutter the house, so I decided I’ll have to try to limit cluttering up things which come into our house in the first place.
We didn’t want to be mean and say no presents, but I did want to offer some helpful guidelines…which has materialised into an amazon wish list of lovely non-plastic things as well as some basic ideas for present giving.
Here’s a summary:
For definite, Oldest’s favourite present this year was two tubs of homemade coloured playdough. The friend who gave these knows me quite well! Coincidentally, I’d bought some new stainless steel animal shaped cutters as a present (Oldest loves baking), so the two went together very nicely!
The older our children get, I visualise it being slightly harder to think of presents..but maybe not. I would love to buy experiences for our children each birthday that will build their confidence in themselves as well as doing something for the first time, which is always exciting in itself.
Things I’m thinking of would be experiences we couldn’t afford to turn into hobbies but that they would remember as lots of fun, such as rock climbing or ice skating.
Let me know your thoughts on birthdays and the things you think are/ aren’t necessary for having a celebration of one of your small people. I’d be interested in your ideas, and they might be helpful to others too. Chat to me by commenting here or on facebook. The sooner we start the conversation, the sooner we change the world!