Have a Naturally Fun, Guilt-Free Birthday Party
I began planning Isaac’s second birthday party, which was in April, a good three months before the event was to occur. It wasn’t that I wanted some over-the-top celebration that would require that kind of detailed preparation; rather, I wanted to explore my options for a natural, healthy — and yet fun — experience. Also, I was just that excited about my baby turning two.
One of my favorite books is Ruth Yaron’s “Super Baby Food.” I used it when Isaac was younger as a guide to preparing fresh, rather than jarred, meals, but it’s not just about baby food. It offers delicious and healthy snack recipes for toddlers and kids, as well as information on toy making, arts and crafts, and all kinds of other cool stuff.
I got a lot of ideas for Isaac’s birthday party from this book, and there are even more I didn’t use, mostly because they were a little advanced for my 2-year-old and his 2-year-old friends. But maybe they’ll help you, as you plan your child’s next party, save money and natural resources.
Bake the cake.
Last year, we bought Isaac an expensive, sugary cake that, while tasty, left me feeling a little guilty. So this year, I made cupcakes using a traditional yellow cake recipe, with some adjustments. I used half whole-wheat flour, half organic white flour and organic, unrefined sugar. The result was as tasty as it was healthy. While I used store-bought icing to top the cake, I used it sparingly, and next year I’ll probably just make my own icing, so I can further control the amount of sugar in it.
Say no to paper and plastic.
Rather than serve your guests food on disposable plates and cups, set out reusable plastic or ceramic dishes and cups. For the kids, I like the Take ‘n Toss cups with lids and straws. They’re designed to be recyclable, but Tulsa’s recycling centers don’t process No. 5 plastic. They are certainly reusable, though, and you can send them home with your guests after the party.
In good favor.
I gave the kiddos at Isaac’s party a container of bubbles, a coloring book and crayons and Yummy Earth organic lollipops and gummy bears (found at Whole Foods). I wanted to give them something they’d enjoy, but also something that would be useful and healthy. It would be easy, though, to make party favors for your guests, and you could even incorporate their making into the party’s activities.
Help the kids make play dough (usually a blend of flour, salt, water and oil; you can easily find recipes online), which they can then take home with them. Send home cookie cutters as well. Or let them make take-home jewelry by stringing beads, pasta (you can dye it with food coloring by shaking it in a zip-lock bag with a few drops of color) or even cereal on a string or shoelace.
You could also help kids plant herb or flower seeds in yogurt cups, and they and their parents can grow their plants at home. You can make bubbles with tap water and non-toxic dishwashing soap (Dawn works especially well) and give them, along with a wand, to your guests.
• 1 cup water
• 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
• 1/2 cup salt
• 1 tablespoon cream of tartar
• Food coloring (if you want colored dough)
• 1 cup flour
1. Combine water, oil, salt, cream of tartar, and food coloring in a saucepan and heat until warm.
2. Remove from heat and add flour.
3. Stir, then knead until smooth. The cream of tartar makes this dough last 6 months or longer, so resist the temptation to omit this ingredient if you don’t have it on hand.
4. Store this dough in an airtight container or a Ziploc freezer bag.