Go Green on your Child's Birthday Party

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Loot bags, party favors, goody bags.  I'm one mom who has had enough!  Each time my children bring them home, I cringe.  Loot bags are filled with too much candy, cheap toys that break, hair accessories, pens or markers that do not work and other 'made in China' items that we really don't need or want. 

In cleaning out my daughter's room one day, we discovered that she had several loot bags that had barely been opened.  The loot bags contained 4 wallets, three hair brushes, tattoos, stickers, markers, hair elastics, pads of paper, hair bands, glitter polish, lip gloss and a host of other items that she will not use. Party after party, we continue to collect these items and I continue to bring them home sorting out the good from the bad, the garbage from the 'keep for a rainy day'.  Well, we don't have enough rainy days to make use of all of these items and they continue to pile up.

As mothers trying to 'de-clutter' and 'go-green', why do we continue to participate in the painful ritual of loot bags?  We buy and we buy, sometimes trying to outdo the last party, when the truth is that these loot bags come home and the majority of it ends up in landfill.  The toys break, the hair brush isn't something you would ever actually use in your child's hair, and the other items just pile up with the hoards of other loot bag trash that accumulates until one day you get fed up and throw it all out, or give it to the nearest recycling depot.

However, there is hope.  My daughter came home from a party a few weeks ago with a simple wooden box with a lid that she had decorated. 

'Is that it?' I asked enthusiastically. 

'Yes', she said, 'Isn't it nice?' 

'It's wonderful,' I said.  

She explained that the box was one of the highlights of the party.  The children received it when they arrived, were given paint and stickers and had a wonderful time personalizing their very own box for keep sakes, money, hair accessories etc.  Inside each box there was a thick punching balloon and two candies.  That was it and the children were thrilled with their boxes, balloons and candies. It was a triumphant moment for me and I thought, there must be more to this idea.  

Well, there is more.  I have come up with the following list that will help stop the loot bag overload and hopefully, ‘green' our children's next birthday party.

Tee shirts - Purchase inexpensive tee shirts and tee shirt paint.  Have the children personalize their own shirt and take it home to proudly wear.

Substantial Toys - Next time you see toys on liquidation, plan ahead and buy what you can for your child's next birthday.  My daughter and I purchased some lovely Barbie Dolls on liquidation after Christmas.  The little girls coming to her birthday in September will appreciate something more substantial than the usual loot, and for those girls who have too many Barbie dolls, they can give it to the Christmas toy drive.  I can be assured that it will not immediately end up in landfill because of the toys considerable value. 

Crafts - The wooden box was a great idea.  Others great takeaway crafts include doorknob hangers, frames, wooden letters and clay pots.

Home made chocolates and candies - Purchase some delicious chocolate, rent or buy molds, melt the chocolate, mold it, cool it and your little guests can take home a tasty treat.

Ceramics - If you are lucky enough to live near a ceramics studio, this is a fun alternative to a typical birthday party.  Each child receives a piece of ceramic to paint.  The piece is then glazed and fired and at a later date, given back to the child for a wonderful birthday party memory. 

Stopping loot bag overload won't be easy, but we mustn't forget the old saying, ‘less is more'. 

 

Kate Cooper writes regularly on diverisified topics for TRCB.com .

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