Cindy’s Weekly Wisdom
Clutter and birthday parties, especially children’s birthday parties, fit together like a hand and glove, don’t they? They don’t have to. My youngest, Audra, turned 10 last week. Her birthday party cost less than $31 (less because there were food leftovers), generated virtually no trash, and was a great success.
First, let’s think about the things that create trash at a child’s birthday party.
- Disposable table cloth (cheap paper or plastic)
- Paper plates
- Paper napkins
- Paper cups
- Cheap themed decorations
- (Often all of the above are purchased at the same time from Wal-Mart, Target, or a party store on an aisle that’s designed to encourage you to buy all the matching this and that they’re selling)
- Plastic forks
- Juice Boxes
- Disposable water bottles
- Plastic cake decorations
- Ribbons, bows and package decorations
- Wrapping paper
- Junky little toys that are often given as prizes for games; they may not be trash today, but they will be soon
- More junky little toys given as party favors, often in throw-away bags
- Gifts that are quickly forgotten about or discarded
Audra had an Olympic-themed birthday party with just six guests. They girls did gymnastics routines (very small routines), the long jump, triple jump, shot put (bean bag throw), swimming races, and diving. (The last two activities took place in an accommodating neighbor’s pool.) None of these activities produced clutter. We also served a nutritious lunch of hummus, pita triangles, carrots, cherries, celery, and cucumbers followed by homemade cupcakes. We watched the some of the Olympics while we ate our lunches. Gift opening was last.
We avoided creating clutter by:
- Using all non-disposable cutlery, plates, and glasses from my kitchen
- Using cloth napkins
- Not using a table cloth (although if we had, it would have been one I already own)
- Getting ice and water from the refrigerator and not offering water bottles or juice boxes (again, if I had offered juice or milk, it would have been poured from a larger bottle, not offered individually)
- No prizes were given for success in the various games
- Decorations were kept to a minimum, which was Audra’s choice. Using some art supplies and the back of a foam core board that I brought home from work, she made an Olympic sign that she hung on the mailbox. She put up a few signs that she printed on the computer using paper that had already been used on one side that said things like “Olympians only after this point” and “Long jump starts here.”
- One friend gave her a sewing book, one friend gave her gift cards to a local ice cream shop (yum yum), and one friend gave her a gift card to a huge accessory store. Audra likes fashion and dressing up, and she will get twice the thrill first getting the gift certificate and then shopping for her item.
- At the end of the party, Audra gave each guest two Japanese erasers. These are hot items among her peers and have been for several years. (Rarely do they actually get used as erasers, although they can be.) What’s interesting is that Audra loves Japanese erasers, but she only wants animals ones. The first thing she did was sort through her own erasers and pulled out the non-animal ones. Right there, we almost had enough for party favors, and only a few more needed to be purchased. Next, she made little boxes from paper for each of the guests. They were only paper and tape and 100% recyclable.
- No gifts were wrapped in wrapping paper. The envelopes were recycled, and the bow and gift bag were put away to be reused.
- The last thing we did was remind our guests of anything that could be recycled. Audra pointed out that she recently went to a party where the hostess provided recyclable cups, but since she didn’t tell or remind anyone that they were recyclable, most of the cups got tossed in the trash.
It is 100% possible to have a fun, inexpensive, and clutter-free party. Do you belong to a circle of friends from whom even over-the-top is not enough? If you don’t want to get new friends, then throw your own decluttered party your own way. You don’t have to be a follower; you can be a leader. Just don’t act shocked when two of three of your friends express envy at the simplicity of your child’s party.
I am on vacation with the birthday girl and her older sister for two weeks, and will likely not be reading comments, let alone answering them. Until I am back in Austin, have a great two weeks.
Today’s Mini Mission
Declutter one of those once favourite outfits that you never wear any more. Chances are it is now out of fashion.
Today’s Declutter Item
Yet more of the craft items recently sold on ebay.
Eco Tip For The Day
Don’t leave you car idling for unnecessary periods of time such as when you pull over to use your cell phone. 10 seconds of idling uses more fuel than restarting your car.
“In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy.” Brother David Steindl-Rast