Party planning for me is quite an experience. There are the usual “To Do’s” like dusting the shelves, mowing the lawn and scrubbing the toilet. But, then there are also the weeds that are carpeting the driveway, the outdoor chair cushions that are disintegrating before our very eyes and the pile of donation items that is taking over the garage. Once the canvas that is our house is prepped and ready, I can begin the decorating. The theme is carried through and through and is evidenced in the gimmes like the food and drinks we serve. It also tends to be overly blatant when it comes to the decorations adorning the walls, ceiling, windows and yard.
My organization level is top-notch and the only stumbling block I consistently run into is the very reasonable budget constraint I set for the party. That is until this year…
- How do you “go green” on a budget?
- Can you afford organic food for forty people?
- What kind of gifts do you purchase that focus on reducing waste, supporting local, etc?
- How do you pull off a vibrantly colorful party with a relative abstinence from artificial food colorings?
This year, the theme of Beckett’s 2nd birthday part was Dr. Suess. The details were perfection. The weather ideal. The company grand. And, the integration of my family’s project went off quite seamlessly.
The details of the party and all the who’s who of Whoville are covered in a previous post titled A Birthday to Remember: Beckett’s 2nd. This post focuses on the game plan and the products that made it all happen – the behind the scenes if you will.
Fantastically fun (and colorful) food!
The food for the party was a hurdle. In a world filled with artificial food colorings, sugar-enhanced food and preservatives – my options quickly dwindled. And, I contemplated long and hard about the price of watermelon when it came to 19-cents per pound or 69-cents per pound – a cost savings of almost seven-dollars when purchasing a 15-pound fruit. But, I stayed strong and didn’t budge. Every single item on the main food table was organic and all-natural. The blue tortilla chips were made with blue corn and the red ones were dyed with beet juice.
The “Moose Juice & Goose Juice” give me a headache just recalling the level of investigation and time spent in the juice aisle at the store. My goal was to find colorful drinks. That’s all. Oh, and natural. No sugar. No colorings. AACK! Well, after taking the time to pick up and peruse at least a gazillion of the bagillion juices available I settled on two. I can’t remember the flavors. I can’t recall the brands. But, they were sugar-free, 100% juice and colored with the fruits alone!
Green “Green” Deviled Eggs – How do you do it?
The foodcoloring dilemma was a hard fought battle. I gave in a little when I purchased the Very Cherry and Blue Raspberry jellybeans. And, caved a little more when I wholehearted supported my dear, trustworthy, extremely talented cake baker who uses all-natural ingredients but sticks with artificial food coloring. But, I was steadfast when it came to what was made in my own kitchen. And, strangely enough this is where the biggest splurge was, too. My all-natural food coloring – Nature’s Colors by India Tree in Seattle – set me back $25 for the bottles of red, blue and yellow. I hemmed and hawed over the price, but finally pulled the trigger. I reasoned that the bottles were larger than your grocery store brand and I was supporting a local company. The ingredients are plant-based dyes that are shockingly vibrant and completely free of any cancer-inducing, hormone-interrupting, petroleum based colorants. I suppose it was a bit of give a little, take a little and finding that happy medium.
Decorations: Livin’ it up in Suess-ville!
The motto with the decorations this year was “reusable”. The thneeds that hung from the lights were hand knit scarves from our hall closet. The paper decorations that were drawn by me were rolled up and stored in the rafters of the garage. The flower vase was from our cupboard and the glass blocks were from our greenhouse. With a little close attention, I was able to make it work with what we had and make sure stuff was reuse-friendly for another party.
One of my favorite decorations was of Horton the elephant hiding in his field of pink dandelions. The backdrop was a piece of pink butcher paper with an assortment of puff balls glued on. The sketch turned out perfect, but one of the products that put it together was very cool. It was Eco Green Crafts “Green Glue”. On the surface it appears to be your ordinary, white glue, but it’s packaged in 100% recycled bottles and adorned with 100% recycled labels. But, the inside is the really good stuff. It is an all-natural, botanical glue made of completely of plant materials. Plus, it’s water soluble and non-toxic.
Gifts, gifts, gifts – oh, goodie, it’s gifts time!
Gift giving to me = big deal. I love giving gifts. And, my toddler is no exception. But, I completely dislike the consumerism of it all and the shocking turnover when it comes to children’s gifts. So, I actively keep my desires in check and forego the potential to go “all out” when it comes to gifts.
Consignment Stores: Don’t knock ‘till you try it
Consignment stores are where it is at when it comes to childrens’ items. You cannot beat the selection, quality and prices. The savings are incredible. So, my two fave stores have become THE first stop I make when gift shopping.
Ever since Beckett was old enough to toddle around the house, she has been hands on. Toys really don’t peak her interest, but whatever Jacob or I is doing sticks like glue with her. She is phenomenal at cleaning the bathtub and meticulous with weed pulling. Turning two and becoming more independent has only intensified this innate interest she has.
In an attempt to avoid any more unnecessary tumbles and trips over adult-size apron, I found Beckett her very own one from Sugar Booger. The company name is what grabbed my attention first, but the craftsmanship and quality standards sold me. The apron fastens with a magnetic closure and the fabrics and linings are all non-toxic and PVC-free. The closure is perfect for the screeching toddler who in a sudden panic decides the apron should have been off five seconds ago.
The one new gift item she got from us was a vacuum. It was after dozens of trips to the consignment store that I finally resolved to buying the new one. And, perhaps it is because it’s a battery-guzzling (we are using rechargeable, so please refrain from gasping just yet), plastic contraption that actually (unfortunately!) sucks up dirt makes it very unlikely that one would ever end up for resale. I can’t be sure. But, she adores it! Love, love, loves it. And, the look on her face when I pull out the big vacuum is priceless as she runs to get hers.
Planning, shopping and decorating for a party in today’s day and age and managing to consider your waste, artificial chemicals, petroleum by-products and others of the like is difficult. It’s time consuming. But, it’s possible. Not everything was eco-friendly, but most of it was. Beckett would have turned her nose up a wooden vacuum because it wouldn’t have been like “Mommy’s” and that’s okay. And, not everything was naturally colored, but the stuff my family chowed down and guzzled was. That’s what matters to me. A little of this, a little of that, a whole lot of thoughtfulness and conscious decisions and VOILA! – a magnificent celebration!