With my son’s first birthday approaching, I considered throwing a party. Not for him– obviously. We were really just using him as an excuse to get lots of friends together to eat, drink and be merry. But I have very particular rules about how we do things around here…I like things to be organic, zero-waste (when possible), and nutritious. How do you do that for a birthday party? I tried to find some ideas on Pinterest, but everything attractive was using expensive waste-full products. And everything yummy was full of sugar. So I had to get creative.
Invitations: I did something kinda boring and just invited people via facebook. This was easy in that I could just scroll through all my friends and pick the ones that are in the area, but hard because not everyone is on Facebook, especially during Lent. Next time I think I’ll use Paperless Post. It will be pretty and get to everyone with an email address, and I don’t think anyone gives THAT up for Lent!
Location: What better location than right at home in our dining room? We’ve got an awesome solarium that we’re using as our dining room, so rain or shine, we could have a party!
Decorations: I’m a sucker for bunting, so I knew I’d have to make some of that. For the prior two weeks I had been ordering some flowers from Good Eggs (a new take on local CSAs) from the vendor Farmgirl Flowers. Farmgirl Flowers wraps each bouquet in old burlap taken from a local coffee beanery, which is a main reason I bought the flowers, because I’m also a sucker for burlap. I played around with a few different sizes, but figured 7″ high by 5 1/2″ wide would be about right for the 2″ lettering. For this project I had the chance to use my antique Singer sewing machine for the second time (I’m definitely a sewer newbie!), picked up some ribbon (unfortunately not biodegradable, but hey, I don’t plan on getting rid of it), some stencils and some fabric paint. Add some creativity, and you have some pretty little bunting!
You can see in the photo above that I used three lines of stitches with white thread to keep everything together. If you own a sewing machine, this is totally do-able. And obviously, it’d be easy with a glue gun too! I suggest attaching the ribbon before painting, just to make sure the letters are straight and at the correct height.
More than just bunting, I wanted a little pop to hang over the food table. Pinterest was my friend this time, and I found out how to make the pom-poms shown in the picture below. Paper = recyclable or compostable. Yay!
You can also see below that the main food table is decorated with my son’s toys. The day of the party I just went around the house looking for blue items, and then set them on top of some antique suitcases we have for variable height.
Food: my husband and I pretty much never consume sugar, processed foods, grain, grains (hoping GAPS diet will fix those last two), and a lot of other items traditionally found at kids’ birthday parties… so again, I had to get creative. The glass bowl below was in our garden when we moved in. I cleaned it up and decided it would make a beautiful parfait bowl, but what could go in it? What about a trail mix! Our local grocery store sells organic dried fruits and nuts in bulk, so I just grabbed what I needed and layered them. The parfait layers are as follows (from bottom to top): dried unsweetened coconut flakes, soaked/dehydrated pecans (didn’t have time to do the rest of the nuts), craisins, cashews, dried cherries, almonds, another layer of unsweetened coconut flakes, and then a decorative layer of craisins. Now, I’m not a fan of trail mix, but this was delicious!
Now, the real genius of the party was this popcorn bar. I’m going to save this for another post that will include recipes.
I debated for a long time about getting my son a cake. I have celiac disease and other issues with grains, so I really didn’t want to give him grains. I also didn’t think it necessary to have a whole ton of sweets for guests to feel obliged to eat. But when a friend (and nutritionist) was over the week before the party and asked to help, I remembered that she had served a sugar-free nut ball dessert (made of nuts, coconut oil, dates and dairy/soy-free chocolate, recipe in a separate post). So naturally, I asked if she could bring some for the party for a guilt-free treat at the end. (Feel free to check her out at www.embracehn.com)
My son absolutely loved the nut balls!
Indulge me for another picture of my cutie, and the awesome bib he got from his grandma.
Other food items included shrimp cocktail (boiled in spices, then saved the water for making scallop soup another day), served with cocktail sauce (homemade ketchup and horseradish), veggies and dip (homemade cream cheese, balsamic, green onions, garlic powder, onion powder), organic wine, local beer, gluten-free beer, sparkling water, and still cucumber water.
As for non-food items, we didn’t want to use any plastic cups or paper plates. My mom, who is practically a professional hostess, has tons of party stemware and small square appetizer plates, so she just brought them all over for us to use. And while the party was winding down we threw everything into the dishwasher so she could have it to take with her at the end of the party.
And what better way to finish everything off than by soaking in some Vitamin D? I think the cutest one is in the middle :).
What are your thoughts on a healthy and eco-friendly party? I’d love more ideas!