As you may recall, April was the month of my little Miss 'E's fifth birthday. I will be the first to admit that my 'green'-ness wasn't what I had hoped, but I did make an effort to, at very least, use items that will have future uses.
Invitations were little seed packets I made on the computer and cut and assembled myself. They contained sunflower seeds for the guests to plant this summer (and are also safe, should any of them try to eat them rather than plant the seeds).
I'm not a big fan of balloons, so it was no real heartbreak to not have any. Instead, I purchased in-expensive paper lanterns. My daughter rarely has nice weather for her birthday (there is usually still snow), so an indoor party is always to be expected (this year was no exception- children were being dropped off in hail, snow, and freezing rain).The nice thing about these lanterns is not only that they could be used again, but also that they could be hung in my daughters room following her birthday, if she so chooses (which she will).
To vary the height of the lanterns, I used regular household string. I purchased pre-cut paper flowers, which my children coloured, and I poked holes in them so that they could be threaded on the string as well. I also made garlands out of flower leis I cut apart and re-strung. These, too, can be re-used. In the garland I wove butterfly and dragonfly mini-lights. I made another garland out of the same flowers and paper letters I printed and cut out by hand. This will also be re-used in future years.
In addition to this, I used dried raspberry branches to make the dining table centre piece. These branches are from my back yard. I then hot-glued on flowers from old silk flowers I had kicking around...and by 'old' I mean I've had them for 15 years and too cheap to throw them out. The secret with this is to glue them where you see a bud on the branches.
Yes- I used a plastic table cloth. The guests were 4 and 5 years old. I re-use these many times, and then re-purpose again...so while not ideal, this particular sheet of plastic will be used for years before meeting it's demise.
On top of the table I sprinkled fabric flower pedals, which we've saved to re-use for future crafts. These plastic plates you see have been in use since my daughter's 1st birthday, and come out every year- because pink is always a safe bet with her! I kept the pink cutlery, too. The cups are paper, and not waxy, so should break down well. The paper plates I used for dessert were biodegradable and made from recycled paper.
I hung (fabric) flower leis on the backs of the chairs for each guest to keep, and instead of a loot bag full of dinky toys, each girl took home a little garden kit- including gardening gloves, clay pots, seeds, soil and small birdhouses that we decorated together after the cake.
We have a long way to go, I know. However, when it came time to clean up, there was no real 'waste' from the party other than the paper cups and biodegradable plates. All tissue and wrapping has been kept for future use, and the packaging from Miss E's gifts were recycled...so, even with some faults, I still think we did a pretty good job. The only real casualty of the party- my electric mixer, which died whilst I was making icing.
Next time....the recycled doll house.