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Claire Moshenberg's picture
Photo credit: Photo by Flickr user 3liz4

When it comes to summer events, usually picnics and barbeques are what come to mind. For me, it's birthdays! I have a summer birthday, and I'm from a family full of summer birthdays. If birthday parties are on your summer horizon, try these easy tweaks and tips to make your party less toxic. No summer babies in your family? Don't worry--these tips work year round.

The Basics:

Birthday Cake:

  • Frosting: Replace traditional toxic food dye with natural DIY alternatives. Mkokopelli has an easy recipe for pink frosting that uses the natural color of raspberries and strawberries. Natural chef Ellie Krieger has a handy DIY food coloring guide that helps you choose spices and fruits to create a variety of food dyes.
  • Sprinkles: Swap traditional sprinkles with creative extras chopped toasted nuts, berries, fresh fruit, or crunched up organic cereals like granola or puffed rice.
  • Cupcake liners: Reduce waste by skipping cupcake liners. A little olive oil will keep the cake batter from sticking to the tin. You could also choose a cake instead and remove the need for cupcake liners altogether.

Goodie Bags: 

  • CD: Groovy Green Living recommends giving away a CD as a favor. You can make a mix tape of popular songs, music associated with the party's theme, or just a fun mix of your child's favorite songs.
  • Crafts: EnviroMom recommends incorporating an easy craft project into the party and having the craft be the party favor. Popsicle stick picture frames are fun to make and decorate; for younger kids, you can pre-make the frames and decorate them at the party. Mindful Momma threw a kids party where she combined craftyness and recycling to create fun junk sculptures.
  • One thing: Instead of a bag of plastic toys and individually wrapped sweets, give one really great thing as a favor. A CD, a book, take home cupcakes, a special toy---by giving one great thing, you reduce all of the packaging that comes with a standard goodie bag.

Decor and Tableware

  • Reusable decorations: Cloth penants and banners can be reused every year and turned into a birthday tradition! You can make your own or purchase them. The same goes for tablecloths; instead of plastic tablecloths, use a cloth tablecloth. Thrift stores are a great place to find brightly colored, patterned fabric that can be used as a tablecloth. Care2 also recommends replacing balloons with homemade, reusable cloth pom poms.
  • Silverware and plates: If you can lose the disposable silverware and plates, that’s great. If you can’t, what about losing one of them? Keep your disposable plates, but use regular silverware. Use the restaurant trick of keeping a bowl of hot water by the sink and dump used silverware in the bowl so it’s rinsed and ready for the dishwasher. Or add dishsoap to the water and give your soapy silverware a quick scrub and rinse when the party is over. Try bamboo or unbleached recycled paper products for dishes and napkins.


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