Are you dreading the mountain of plastic toys, paper plates, wrapping paper and goodie bag trinkets that will be thrown away after your child’s next birthday party? Birthday parties are exciting for kids and parents, but they can easily lead to a lot of unnecessary waste. Thankfully, environmentally-minded parents in Vancouver have lots of options when it comes to throwing a green birthday party.
Gymboree has teamed up with Green Planet Parties to offer a fantastic eco-friendly option for preschool birthday parties. A Gymboree party includes a great setting to host children’s parties, including amazing hosts to lead fun and musical activities for all the guests. Party supplies are all eco-friendly disposable items, such as palm leaf plates, corn-based cups, wooden utensils and recycled napkins. The decorations include a reusable cloth “Happy Birthday” banner and the goodie bags are locally-made and filled with wooden or cloth toys and all-natural, organic goodies! Gymboree staff also set up and clear away afterwards, making it an easy option for parents.
The Vancouver Aquarium is another option for an environmentally-friendly children’s birthday party. A party at the aquarium includes a behind-the-scenes tour, including opportunities to touch a sea anemone, feed the fish in the Strait of Georgia Pacific Canada Pavilion and touch sea otter fur. Learning about the natural world is a great motivator to inspire kids and adults alike to work to protect it. A Vancouver Aquarium birthday party also includes cake, fruit punch, all-day admission and a $25 gift certificate for the birthday kid to spend in the gift shop.
The Lynn Canyon Ecology Centre is a popular venue for young naturalists to celebrate birthdays. A party at the Lynn Canyon Ecology Centre includes a host and planned activities such as outdoor exploration, indoor games, crafts and guided walks. Parents are responsible for bringing all the food and supervising during snack time, so parents may need to source their own eco-friendly party supplies, but it’s a great place to get out into nature and experience ecosystems first-hand.
Throwing a toonie party at home is one of the most environmentally-friendly birthday party options out there. Using your own cups and plates means nothing needs to be thrown away, and if your child is interested in making their own contribution to an ecological cause, you can throw a toonie party. Instead of guests bringing the birthday boy or girl a gift, they bring two toonies – one to go to a donation, and one to go towards a birthday gift. This idea is especially good for older children who are passionate about causes such as saving the rainforest or Siberian tigers, and are enthusiastic about making a donation. Locally-made green party supplies can be found at Green Planet Parties.
If you do want to do a more traditional party at home with gifts and goodie bags, it’s quite acceptable to ask guests to consider bringing homemade, preloved or edible gifts instead of a mountain of plastic toys. Parting gifts can also easily replace goodie bags stuffed with dollar store items. Look for small, useful items such as pencil crayons, a cookie cutter or a stainless steel water bottle.
Whether you throw a big bash at a venue or a small gathering at home, a green birthday party can be great fun and a chance to learn about the environment too.
Michelle Carchrae is a freelance writer and homeschooling mom to two girls. With a serious love for Vancouver and an equally serious need to get out of the house with two young kids, Michelle searches out the best kid and parent friendly places to go. Michelle also writes about parenting at her blog, The Parent Vortex.
Michelle Carchrae is often asking those important life questions: "who moved the scissors?", "how would you do that differently next time?" and "are you finished with the glitter glue?" Homeschooling two girls, ages 6 and 3, is her full time job. The rest of the time Michelle can be found blogging at The Parent Vortex, hiking in the forest or knitting and reading simultaneously. She recently published her first ebook, The Parenting Primer: A guide to positive parenting in the first six years, and moved to Bowen Island.