Sophie and her grow buddy at an earth day party|

Earth Day Birthday

A party for an environmentally sensitive child.

Recently, I had a kid request a “Love Our Mother Earth” party theme. I thought it was a totally fun idea, and with Earth Day just around the corner, I thought I’d share some of the ideas we came up with! My little client was way into recycling -- to the point where she knew the different kinds of plastics that could be recycled or not! Needless to say, I was impressed, and wanted to make sure I created a party that left as small a “footprint” as possible. My goal: no more garbage than could fit into a paper grocery bag.

The invitation printed on recycled bags|

We started with invitations that were printed on paper bags. They not only sported a little poem about saving the Earth, but also listed seven fun things to do with the bag, including wrapping the birthday girl’s present inside.

our crafting set up for an earth day party|

A selctionk of snacks from the Earth Day party|

Each guest received a reusable water bottle|

For decor, we lucked out because we had just done an eco-friendly Bar Mitzvah and had a ton of really cool moss products in a variety of shapes, including bowls, balls, and funky little bubble-shaped patties. At the food table, I chose to go with metal water bottles with the kids’ names on them instead of glasses or paper cups; the kids got to take the bottles home with them as part of their goodie. It also made for a terrific opening activity of decorating them with stickers and permanent markers. I also had three dispensers for drinks: water, milk, and lemonade.

Choolctaes hidden in their earth day nests|

My sister Freda also made an amazing manzanita branch “tree” to use as a centerpiece (although it ended up being so tall I had to place it on the ground). To add a bit of whimsy, Freda made little birds’ nests out of moss, and placed a Cadbury egg in each one for the kids to eat.

A borthday banner made form recycled materials|

My favorite item was a handmade birthday banner that Freda fashioned from paper bags. I printed out backwards letters for her on full-sheet sticker labels. She cut those out and put them on the back of fun patterned scrapbook papers. Once cut out, she glued those to the paper bags and simply strung the bags by hole-punching the tops and stringing a silky ribbon through the holes. When all was said and done, nothing was thrown away, not even the scraps from the letters (we used those for another project)!

Once all the kids arrived, we played some funny recycle games.

Playing pass the trash at earth day party|

Pass the “water bottle”

We actually ended up playing with those long boxes that tin foil comes in because we had them on hand, but I would have normally used a water bottle. The object of the game is to pass the item from person to person without using your hands, but instead a series of other body parts. All you need is a recyclable item and a bunch of kids. Here’s how you play:

    1. Split the group into teams of 5 or 6 and have them line up in their teams, one behind the other.
    2. Hand the first person in line an item (bottle, tin foil box -- nothing sharp). They place the item under their chin, and then do not touch it with their hands.
    3. On “Go!” the first person in line passes the item to the second person in line from chin to chin. No hands should be used if you can help it. The second person passes it to the third, and so on, until it reaches the last person.
    4. When the last person receives the item, they run to the front of the line. Once there, they transfer the item to the next body part: between their elbows.
    5. Play continues with players passing the item using the following body parts:

First - chin
Second - elbows
Third - wrists
Fourth - pinkies
Fifth - knees
Sixth - ankles
Seventh - feet

  1. Once the first person in line makes it back to the front, that team is done, and they sit down. First entire team to sit down and put their hands in the air is declared the winner.

Playing paper wars at earth day party|

We also had a recycle relay race.

Grow buddies made at the earth day party|

We then took a break to make “Grow Buddies.” And truth be told, the kids could have worked on them all day! It’s a pretty simple craft at its heart, but the great thing about it is that you can get as detailed and inventive as possible.

By then, it was time to sing “Happy Birthday” -- but instead of a cake, my birthday gal opted for a sweet treat that celebrated land and sea. I made tiny glass flower pots with pudding “dirt,” and little glass bowls filled with blue Jell-O to represent the ocean. The recipe is really simple!

“Dirt” pudding
You’ll need chocolate pudding, Cool Whip, Oreo cookies, and gummy worms.

  1. Follow the standard directions to make your pudding. At the end of the mixing time, add 1 cup of Cool Whip and mix thoroughly.
  2. Spoon into cups and place in the fridge to set.
  3. For the dirt, take a bag of Oreo cookies and place them in a food processor. Grind them up until they take on a dirt-like look (you can use vanilla cookies for a more sandy look).
  4. Right before you are ready to serve the treat, place a couple spoonfuls of cookie “dirt” on top.
  5. Insert a gummy worm so that he looks like he’s crawling out from the dirt.
  6. Yum!

Land and Sea desserts at the earth day party|

Edible ocean
You’ll need blue Jell-O, Cool Whip, and gummy fish, plus a sharp knife (adults only).

  1. Prepare the Jell-O as directed, and pour into little cups or bowls.
  2. Place in fridge and let set.
  3. Right before you are ready to serve, add a thin spoonful of Cool Whip and spread across the top of the Jell-O.
  4. Use the knife to make a small slit in the top of the Jell-O.
  5. Insert a gummy fish into the Jell-O with the head facing up, so it looks like Flipper peeking out from the waves.
  6. Double yum!

We also served meringue cookies as “clouds” to represent the sky, but we bought those from Trader Joe’s!

All in all, we were able to keep to our goal, and the only real garbage we made was from the Cadbury Egg wrappers and the packaging from the birthday presents. So in my mind, mission accomplished!

Happy Earth Day Birthday, everyone!