Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The 1st Birthday Recap!

Two weekends ago was the big day, Little J's first birthday party. Now I'm not going to win any awards for throwing the simplest, greenest party (it's not hard to see that the menu strayed a little off the all-natural course, bright blues and oranges clearly do not occur like that in nature unless you're in the tropics!)...but I did make sure there were some eco-friendly elements and tried not to throw simplicity completely by the wayside.

So here are some tips from our first birthday party throwing experience (intermingled with some pictures of course):
  • Make the party your own...a theme can be born out of just about anything! We based ours on one of Little J's favorite books, "47 Beavers on the Big Blue Sea." I made up different names for all the snacks based on characters/pictures from the book (that's what all the little cards are) and used colors from the book to tie the whole party together.
  •  If you can't find something, make it. Well, even if you can find it, make it anyway! I made lots of things for the party (including the invitations I wrote about here)...but probably the most visible thing is the lovely flag bunting (I think I used a total of one yard fabric along with about 7-8 yards of pre-made bias tape. Feel free to ask me for more specifics on how I made it!). The thing I love most about the bunting, besides the nice handmade touch, is that it can be used again and again. I can definitely see a color switch in Little J's room in the not too distant future :)
  • Etsy is a party's best friend. I found the just the right color orange cupcake liners and the cutest eco-friendly, paper straws from Dime Store Buddy (to go along with the repurposed Frappuccino bottles I wrote about here).
    • I know not everyone has this option, but we were able to use our neighborhood clubhouse for the party. We don't have a huge house, so being able to have this large room ensured all the kiddos had plenty of room to roam and we were able to keep all of our guests in one place. The downside to this option was having to transport everything from home to the party site...but the benefits far outweighed this minor detail.
    • Remember the kiddos. You know, the little people this party is about? We borrowed this table and chairs from our church, wrapped it in brown paper, and put it smack, dab in the middle of the room so the little ones had a place to sit and eat/ color. We kept the menu kid-friendly and even incorporated storytime for the little ones ("47 Beavers on the Big Blue Sea" of course - and we popped in the book's sing-a-long CD for some fun, free entertainment).

    • Don't go overboard with the party favors, keep it simple. We decided on personalized (and reusable) bottles of bubbles (I used my Silhouette and some extra vinyl for the monograms and decorated them with fabric scraps leftover from the bunting).
    A couple more things:
    • Throw parties between mealtimes so you can just have snacks. Just snacks means simpler food prep, less plates, less napkins, and less silverware which equals less waste and less cleanup! Win, win. Just have finger foods and cupcakes and eliminate the need for silverware all together!
    • Choose paper, not plastic. If you don't want to use "real" dishes (I wouldn't blame you for not wanting to use glass dishes with kiddos in the mix, we didn't) and cloth napkins, paper plates and napkins are the next best choice (especially for us since we could throw them in our mixed organics cart).
    • Enjoy the party! (And try to come to terms with the fact that your precious, tiny little baby is not so tiny any more and is now referred to as a TODDLER!)
    So has anyone else made up a party theme based on one of your kiddo's favorite books? Anyone have some tips for not going overboard with birthday parties and keeping it greenish?

    PS - The image of Little J with his cake is courtesy of his grandma and grandpa...who happen to have a little nicer camera than mommy and daddy :)

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