Here I am after the ‘green’ kids’ party has taken place (for the post on planning, see here) – so how did it go?
There are two answers! Before I started this blog I would have said it was a great party, it couldn’t have gone better in fact. I had my own very contented children at the end of it, 30 happy children during it and lots of adults socialising and enjoying themselves. The venue was great, the food was complimented and the party games went well with no fighting (bonus points!)
The second answer, bearing in mind that my aim was to host a party which adhered to my blog aims of ‘ethical consuming and responsible waste disposal’, is that it went quite well but definitely fell short of my goals on a few areas.
Still, always one to pick myself up, dust myself down and carry on, I am hoping that this blog post will allow me to illustrate the ‘green’ strengths of the party and document where I could have done better so that I can aim for perfection next time. Believe me, now that I’ve made a start on the Eco Party idea, I’m not dropping it – I’ve had my eyes opened even wider as to how much waste children’s parties can generate.
My previous post outlined some of the successes of the party, such as the venue and that a ban was made on us purchasing new outfits for the occasion. Here is an update on the other areas:
Here is an example of the final bag with its contents:
Since the last post, I added a personalised packed of sunflower seeds to each one plus a ‘healthy snack’ of dried fruit marketed at children (my kids absolutely love these little packets).
While I was pleased that I’d managed to find something healthy, compared to the typical party bag fair, and that came in recyclable packaging, they were bought from the supermarket (fail). The good news for next time is that they can be purchased online from non-supermarket sites.
My other half also made little labels to be stuck on each bag in the hope that guests would recycle the contents.
Keen to ensure that my eco party bags did not seem like a poor alternative to the usual, I did put quite a lot of effort into their appearance – here they are adding a burst of colour to my house prior to packing.
I had rejected the venue’s catering option in the hope that I could cater healthily and increase the chances of sourcing the food ethically. I had hoped to avoid the supermarket but I didn’t manage this due to a lack of proper planning and, mainly, time on my part. I will admit though that I am disappointed. Since embarking on 28 days without the supermarket, I genuinely hate being in them. Spending money there for the party made me feel guilty and increased my resolve to reduce my use of them further (see my last blog post).
On the plus side, I provided lots of fresh fruit and veg – where I could buy organic, I did. Sandwiches were homemade (free range organic egg and organic mayo, anyone?) and I had roped grandparents into helping me with home baking which reduced the levels of preservatives and other nasties.
The birthday child got involved in making marshmallow cakes:
And I made banana cake with organic bananas from my veg box plus organic free range eggs:
Major fail on the birthday cake itself which I ended up buying from Marks & Spencer -unfortunately, around the same time it was in the press for issues of some tax avoidance (Guardian, May 19 2013).
A blog reader kindly suggested that I made the cake earlier and popped it in the freezer ready to defrost the night before the party (why hadn’t I thought of that?!) but once again my planning let me down.
I made sure that the party food was all set out on our own dishes from home. I chose to use paper drink cartons to make sure there was no juice wasted and this avoided plastic cups. Paper plates and napkins were given to each child for eating.
In retrospect where it all went wrong was during the clear-up. We had a 15 minute window to tidy and get out of the party room and this meant that all of the rubbish was hurriedly bundled up and shoved into bin bags. I was busy saying goodbyes and it didn’t occur to me at the time to ask my family helpers to separate out the recyclable waste. Next time, I’ll need to appoint ‘Green Meanies’ to keep an eye on the environmental concerns!
Despite me stating on the invitations that no one should feel they had to bring a present to the party, everyone did. I think the bottom line is that guests really don’t like to turn up to a party empty handed, which I can relate to. So much thought and time was put into the presents – to honour that, and ensure each one will be treasured as it should, I have put aside duplicates and those that I don’t think will be used, to give away to the Cash for Kids appeal at Christmas time.
I’m glad we held this party with my blog aims at the centre. Despite the fact that there was a lot of room for improvement, we did actually manage to buy more ethically and reduce waste than if we’d held a party in our usual fashion. Writing up this post has highlighted to me where I can get it right next time and, believe me, I’m going to get there!