It’s time to start planning for Coraline’s first birthday. It’s hard to believe that a year has gone by already — this time last year I was anxiously awaiting her arrival, convinced she was never coming out. This past year with her has been both the most wonderful and most difficult of my life, and to think we’re just getting started…
There are a lot of things to take into consideration when planning a party, especially one that is economical, earth-friendly, representative of our values, and fun for babies, kids, and grown-ups alike. We really want to be able to celebrate our daughter’s birthday and our first year together as a family with our nearest and dearest (about 50 of them), and doing so without putting a strain on our checkbooks and producing a lot of waste is tricky — but not impossible. Because Coraline is so young (and her few friends are, too) we can get away with a lot now — like no goodie bags, theme decorations, or entertainment — that we won’t be able to once she’s older. Here are just a few of the ways we’re making Coraline’s first birthday bash green and affordable:
While paper invites make a nice keepsake and can be done at a fairly low cost, they are fairly wasteful considering they’ll likely end up in everyone’s garbage except yours. We sent out evites — they have cute designs to choose from, produce zero waste, are free, and keep track of all your RSVPs for you. If you have your heart set on paper invitations, print on recycled or seeded paper.
Space can be an issue, especially if you have as little as we do. While we considered other venues, many would require an additional fee or lengthy drive times for us or other guests. But we ultimately decided that home would do — with a backyard and front porch we’re thinking there is ample space for folks to mill about. And we won’t have to worry about transporting anything, which means less waste and hassle.
I’ve been to a few events where the invitation specified not to wrap presents, and this is a great way to avoid ending up with two contractor bags full of paper (though I’d say only a third of people usually adhere). We decided to go one step further and request no gifts, period. Our reasons for this are many: First, we don’t want to deal with all the paper and packaging. Secondly, Coraline doesn’t know the difference, and while birthday presents are part of birthdays, we don’t want her to think that’s what they’re all about. And lastly, money is tight for everyone these days, and we don’t want our friends and family to feel obligated to buy something — that’s not the spirit of gift giving we want to instill in her. Cheesy but true, their presence is gift enough.
Unfortunately we don’t have enough dishes, silverware, or cloth napkins to avoid generating some paper waste at the party, but we plan on minimizing it by using recyclable cups and compostable plates. The popular disposable company Solo now has a line of recyclable, renewable, and compostable products called Bare, and they’re available at Target. And there are a number of corn, bamboo, or plant-based biodegradable utensils on the market, too.
Dig these ideas? What are some inexpensive, eco-friendly ways you can think of to reduce waste — but maximize the fun — at your party?