My three boys are still young enough to like a good birthday party-especially when it’s their own. Their excitement leading up to the party is adorable and their willingness to take on the role of “king for a day” is magical. My eleven year old still wears our traditional “handmade by mom” crown around the house (think construction paper taped together in the shape of a crown).
From a child’s perspective, the highlight of any birthday party is most often the requisite goody bag- filled with, as my 7 year old says, “the best toys ever”. From a parents perspective the goody bags are usually filled with junky plastic toys that generally break before you pull the car into your driveway and ultimately end up in a landfill faster then you can say “Happy Birthday”.
I find myself struggling year after year with the decision whether or not to partake in the obligatory handing out of goody bags at my children’s birthday parties. I have a difficult time rationalizing buying bags and filling them with useless trinkets that are possibly filled with toxic chemicals when so many are living without basic necessities. It just seems excessive and wasteful. At the same I don’t want to deny my kids the right to be kids and enjoy a traditional goody bag filled birthday party. I have experimented with alternatives to goody bags and found that some are keepers and some are not.
Here are five goody bag alternatives that are eco friendly, prevent waste and limit the number of plastic toys that end up in a landfill.
- Donate what you would have spent on the goody bag to a charity. For my son’s 8th birthday we donated what we would have spent on goody bags to the people of Haiti (this was right after the earthquake). My son wrote a note to his guests, with our help, explaining what we had done.
- Make a CD of your favorite music. This was a big hit for my son’s 7th birthday.
- Give a book. Books are always a great option and a nice way to say “thanks for coming”.
- Personalize flower seed packets. For under $2 at beaucoup you can send your guest home with their very own packet of wildflower seeds personalized with the name of the birthday girl or boy.
- Give a tree. Send the kids home with their very own Tree in a Box. The tree seed kit comes with tree seeds, organic biodegradable peat pot and instructions. Trees act as a filter, cleaning the air by intercepting airborne particles, and absorbing air pollutants. They also help reduce the “greenhouse effect” by absorbing CO2. What a great way to be green at your own birthday party!
Do you struggle like I do with the idea of a goody bag ? What are your eco friendly ideas for replacing the standard goody bag?