I almost can’t believe it, but my son turned two years old this weekend! In honor of his birthday, I’m taking a quick break from talking about fashion to tell you about his eco-friendly toddler birthday party. But don’t worry, I’ll be back with a 10×10 update and more eco-fashion soon.
It feels like it was yesterday that we brought him home from the hospital. I vividly remember sitting on the couch with my husband the first evening we were home. Our son was sleeping inside of his Boppy in between us, and my husband and I were just staring at each other like, “What do we do now?” It’s an intense moment when you realize you are responsible for keeping another human alive.
And as of Sunday, we kept him alive for two years and counting!
To celebrate, we invited some family and friends over to our house for a little party. And we became those ridiculous people who cram a bouncy castle in their backyard. I’ll admit it was extravagant, but the kids (and adults) loved it!
This year while I was planning the party, I decided that I would take some steps to make our get-together a little more eco-friendly. Granted, a bouncy castle is admittedly not eco-friendly – it takes so much power to keep it inflated – but I made some strides in other areas.
I really wanted to focus on the party favors because in my experience they can be a bit wasteful. Some parents do a great job and put together a thoughtful bag full of toys my son will actually love. But others seem to feel like they have to give out something, but don’t want to put time or money into it. They just fill a bag with some junky trinkets that will get thrown away as soon as we get home.
I considered buying a bunch of cute, sustainable toys to give out to each child, but since we were paying to rent the bouncy castle, I decided to keep the goodie bag budget to a minimum.
Here are my four favorite eco-friendly (and budget-friendly) tweaks I made to our party favors:
Eco-friendly Felt Crowns
To fit in with the bouncy castle, I decided to work with a loose king/queen theme for the party. I made each child an adorable felt crown out of 100% post-consumer recycled plastic felt. Some of the kids had a blast running around with their crowns on during the party like little princes and princesses.
My son, on the other hand, refused to wear one and I had flashbacks to last Halloween when I made him the cutest parrot costume, but he screamed bloody murder every time I tried to get him to wear it. So much for the 12 hours of my life I spent making that costume.
Recycled Crayon Party Favors
Within the past month or so, my son finally got the concept of coloring. Up until then, he’d immediately take a bite out of every crayon he got his grubby little hands on. Except for one pack of extra large crayons that he only wanted to dump out of the box and then put back into the box one by one. Over and over and over and over.
But my sister got him a sketch pad for Christmas, and that was a real turning point for him. He’s been enjoying a nice three to five minutes of coloring every day. And he rarely does anything for as long as three to five minutes. So I wanted to encourage his new creativity and give him a chance to share it with his little buddies at his birthday party.
I found these really cool 100% recycled crayons made by Crazy Crayons to give out as party favors. They collect old crayon nubs, melt them down and re-mold them into little stars that fit perfectly into toddler hands. Now that I know these exist, I don’t think I’ll ever buy new crayons again.
Upcycled Coloring Pages
To go with the recycled crayons, I decided to add a few coloring pages to each child’s gift bag. I considered buying a coloring book and cutting out a few pages for each bag – a more eco-friendly option than buying each child a coloring book, but less eco-friendly than not buying a new coloring book at all.
As a more eco-friendly option, I cut a few pages out of an old fiction book that was too damaged to donate to the library. Then, I drew my own designs on the pages for the kids to color. I rolled the upcycled coloring pages into little scrolls and called them royal decrees to fit in with the king/queen party theme.
As a side note, the book I used was a historical fiction novel that skews a little romantic, so hopefully no one got any racy passages on their page! Sorry moms and dads!
I also set up a little coloring station that the kids could color on during the party by covering a bench with more upcycled book pages. I drew on a huge Happy Birthday in block letters and a few birthday-related cartoons. It was a big hit at the party!
Upcycled Gift Bags
I really hated the idea of buying a bunch of little paper or plastic bags to put the party favors in because I knew they’d just get thrown away. Instead, I made little bags out of a thrifted curtain panel that I bought last month while I was looking for eco-friendly ways to wrap my Christmas gifts. It took me all of five minutes to sew them together, and it gave me another excuse to use my new sewing machine. I’m working up to making myself some clothes so I’m trying to get all the sewing practice I can. Bonus: the bag ties are made out of thrifted ribbon.
For next time, I’d try and find some more colorful fabric to make the bags. Something like an old child’s pillowcase or sheets would do the trick. The only “new” things I bought for these favors were the recycled crayons and the recycled felt for the crowns – everything else was laying around the house. Total cost: $21.73. Not too shabby! And I can feel good about reducing our contribution to landfills by using thrifted and upcycled items. It’s a drop in the bucket, but we all need to start somewhere.
Looking for some more eco-friendly party inspiration?
Let’s chat! What kind of favors have you given out for you kids’ birthday parties? Any ideas for other eco-favors?