As a not-so-perfect green mom, I try not to be critical of other people’s choices. In fact, part of my imperfection is a bit of a tendency to rush to judgement.
But I really try not judge the choices mothers make in order to get by. I am all for pizza at a birthday party and can’t condemn bottles of water in a pinch. However, one thing that really gets me are children’s party favors.
Everybody loves a goody bag, and I have been known to take an extra swag bag at a party myself. But when it comes to kids, I think we can be a little more diligent without spending a fortune on tiny organic baked goods or hand-painted wooden toys for 30 2-year-olds. Party favors don’t have to be all seedlings and hemp-bracelets to pacify my preference. In fact, I have no problem at all with a box of Crayolas, a sheet of stickers, or the occasional Fruit Roll-Up.
But the one thing I can not abide is a dollar store grab bag of Made-In-Chiny-Shiny-Plastic-Crap-Surely-Soon-To-Be-Recalled-Due-To-Lead/Cadmium/Choking Hazard/General Toxicity of Mind, Body, and Planet. Judgmental? Perhaps. But in 2011, there is really no excuse for loading up kids with oodles of tiny plastic crap. If not for the planet, do it for the sanity of the mom who doesn’t need 10 more little toys to trip over, sweep up, and later find in the dog’s bowel movements.
Please moms – don’t hate me for this and exclude my innocent toddler from birthday festivities fearing that I will judge you for the use of balloons or crepe paper banners. I promise, it’s OK and I have brought many a balloon through the door of my own glass house.
But when it comes to party favors, please take a few of my simple, affordable suggestions and I promise you will find yourself with practical, affordable, and positive results for kids and moms alike!
1) Food. For a mom, there is nothing better than a gift that disappears without having to make room in the overstuffed toy box. It doesn’t have to be all organic – although a handful of Whole Foods Animal Crackers beautifully bagged costs mere pennies. (For Sam’s first birthday I bought a giant jug of these cookies for less than $10, and stuck a few in little matchboxes I bought on Etsy. Truth be told, the matchboxes were way to small for the cookies and too small for one-year-olds in general, but it was a solid try).
2) Crayons and Coloring Books. I have already posted about my obsession with Crazy Crayons, a company that recycles old crayons and turns them into colorful new crayon shapes. I also included these for Sam’s first birthday, but you can also use soy-based crayons or plain old Crayolas if you want. As for coloring books, if you can’t find recycled paper versions, it is easy and free to print sheets yourself on recycled paper. Check out free templates like these from National Geographic.
3) Something the kids can make themselves. If your party involves a craft, that’s all the party favor they need. If you host a party at a Color Me Mine-type place, the kids get to keep what they make for a special, personalized memory. Or you can DIY and have the kids make whatever at the party, which will also keep them busy. I’m not the most creative crafter but I’m sure anyone can do wonders with some felt or buttons or…I don’t know. Look at a kid’s craft site for some real ideas.
4) Anything from Etsy. I love this site for anything handmade and extra special. Crayons, candies, finger puppets – just do a search for “kids party favors” for some ideas and contact the vendor directly to special order and negotiate. Many of these crafters are green-minded, or will at least try to honor your requests for sustainable materials.
5) I know I said before that not all green party favors have to be seedlings – but I do think that is a really cool favor! Give kids little potted seedlings for something educational, fun, and obviously green!
So what do you think? Are we still invited?