My son turned five last week which means I spent several days in the lead up to his birthday party, deliberating on how I can successfully be Fun-Mum as well as Ethically-Sustainable-Mum (so naturally I’ve descended into Guilty-Mum and I’m-Not-Good-Enough-Mum territory slightly more often than usual).
For those of you who’ve read my ‘War on Christmas‘ rant, you’ll know I hate plastic crap. I really hate plastic crap. And my heart sinks when my kids come home from a birthday party with a gift bag full of plastic novelty items that are no use to anyone.
So, with this in mind, I did solemnly swear that I would make up party bags with items that the kids would get joy from, that had a use and would last longer than five minutes before they broke and got chucked in the bin.
And… they had to be affordable. Because, as much as I’d like to give every kid a brand new pair of organic cotton dungarees… not gonna happen.
A tall order? Actually, no.
My starting point was some tumbled stones. I love crystals, my kids love crystals and, given how popular fossicking in sandpits at events seems to be these days, I’m pretty sure all kids love crystals. And, you can generally find them for a buck or two each.
And as luck would have it, there was this new little pop-up shop in town that was selling citrine crystals for a dollar each and she had the exact number that I needed.
When I got them home I wrapped them up in squares of ‘Who Gives a Crap‘ toilet paper wrappers so that they looked like lollies. But they’re not lollies. They’re better than lollies.
Something to Grow
Next up – seeds. Kids love to plant, grow and pick stuff. Here was a gift that would just keep on giving, many months from now.
I had my heart set on purple peas because purple peas are even more exciting than normal peas, but the man didn’t have any so I got snow peas instead.
I love Greenpatch Seeds because they’re heirloom varieties, often organic, untreated (ie not sprayed with horrible fungicides etc) and non-GM. They have sooooo many varieties to choose from.
I bought two packets and split them between the 9 goody bags that I had to make.
And because the crystals looked so cute in the toilet paper wrappers and because it’s oh so thrifty, frugal and upcycle-y, I wrapped the seeds in the WGAC loo roll paper too.
Don’t they look adorable?
Ok, the bags I bought were quite a bit too big for my amazing not-plastic gifts and they looked pretty pathetic sitting there in the bottom. I needed some filler.
I had the idea of buying a cute little succulent for each kid because they’re easy to look after and are just really, you know… cute.
Then I remembered I had a butt-load of succulents IN MY GARDEN! And around a thousand plant pots that I’ve hoarded over the years ‘in case I needed them’. Turns out I did (well, nine of them anyway).
Long story short, into each bag went an adorable succulent which didn’t cost me a penny AND made the bags look really, really full.
Because… Fun-Mum, remember? But, not chemical-loaded sweet treats filled with sugar, colourings, preservatives and other weird shit. No, these kids got Banjo Bears which doooo have sugar (but then so did the birthday cake – I’m not a complete a-hole) but other than that are pretty much hunky-dory from a health perspective.
What do you reckon?
If you’re wondering how much each bag cost, they came in at around $4.50 per bag (including the bag – and that’s Aussie dollarydoos, btw). I don’t know how this compares to a bag filled with plastic novelty items, but I think it’s money well spent.
I hope you’ll agree, I’ve earned a certain amount of time being Smug-Mum because I totally nailed it. The kids loved them and the parents loved them.
And, so long as we all keep going to the toilet, I never need to buy wrapping paper again.
What not-plastic-crap do you put in party bags? (I need ideas for next year). Leave me a comment below!