Party Planning Pros
More and more party planners are recognizing the desire to celebrate in a way that's environmentally responsible. For this very reason, mother-daughter team Lynn Colwell and Corey Colwell-Lipson co-authored Celebrate Green! Creating Eco-Savvy Holidays, Celebrations and Traditions for the Whole Family. Both are green lifestyle experts and speakers—not to mention experienced moms.
"The celebration of a new little life and a growing family is the perfect opportunity to celebrate in an earth-friendly way because it's impossible to separate healthy children from a healthy planet," says Colwell-Lipson. "As we 'shower' the new or expectant mother with gifts to care for her baby's every need, what a perfect time to also give the baby the gift of a better world. Green baby showers are a lovely way to start a new life on the right foot."
Ame Mahler Beanland and Emily Miles Terry would have to agree. The two moms are the authors of Nesting: It's a Chick Thing, and Postcards From The Bump: A Chick's Guide to Getting to Know The Baby in Your Belly. "Babies represent hope for a beautiful bright future and what better way to welcome them into the world than to help preserve the earth?" says Miles Terry. "Everything from what you serve the food on to centerpieces and invitations can be green. If you make a conscious effort, a green baby shower theme can be incorporated into most facets of your shower."
Nothing sets the tone for a party quite like the invitation, and there are plenty of green options to choose from. "Personalized e-vites or video invitations are an uber green option (not to mention usually free) for invitations and thank you notes," says Colwell.
Evite.com and Pingg.com are just a few of the great sites that offer e-mail invitations. But if your grandmother and great-aunt still aren't hip to computer-generated invites, there are also countless places to turn to that offer recycled or eco-friendly invitations. Even Shutterfly.com offers designer baby stationery made from 30 percent post-consumer waste.
"For mailable invitations, look for those made of 100-percent recycled paper, such as the adorable letter-pressed cards from JaydaOnline.com, or tree-free papers, like sustainable bamboo," says Colwell. "Or make them yourself out of used or vintage cards and saved baby-themed wrapping paper or, for a think-outside-the-box idea, hand stamp gently used bodysuits with the party details, roll up, tie with ribbon, and send to family and friends. For thank you notes, we love the tree-free mama and baby line (featuring animals like elephants, giraffes, and monkeys) from MrElliePooh.com."
Food and Decor
As with any events, Colwell-Lipson advises hostesses to offer foods that are local, seasonal, and organic. "Also choose fresh, whole, and handmade over packaged items," she says. "You may want to feature recipes that are/were favorites of the baby's relatives or that represent the baby's lineage. A money-saving tip: Buy only as much food as you need. If there are leftovers, send them home with guests in prepared glass jars tied with a raffia bow. Be sure to compost any other food and paper items."
Miles Terry recommends using china when serving smaller parties. "It's cheaper, more stylish, and more eco-friendly than paper plates," she says. "Small potted herbs can be used as name cards and guest favors."
Colwell agrees, adding that plates, cups, and flatware can be borrowed or rented or even purchased for next to nothing at thrift stores. And don't forget the cloth tablecloths and napkins.
While your guests are enjoying your scrumptious cuisine, they'll have the chance to admire the carefully planned decorations that work to bring the party together. Colwell recommends "adding meaning to the greening" by decorating with heirlooms.
"Hang silver baby spoons, booties, small toys, and photos of the mother and father—and, if desired, grandparents and great grandparents—as babies," Colwell says. "If using flowers, go with organic, VeriFlora-certified, or homegrown blooms. Steer clear of paraffin candles and choose sustainable, cleaner and safer-burning 100-percent beeswax candles. We're head over heels for Seattle's Big Dipper Wax Works."
Miles Terry finds that hot pink and apple green pebbles in reused baby food jars with wild flowers or natural grasses make adorable centerpieces. "To decorate the walls, create a ribbon clothesline with homemade bodysuits that spell out baby's name," she says. "Then the clothesline can hang in baby's room afterwards or he/she can wear the bodysuits. Reuse a birdhouse and transform it into a guestbook by painting it white and supplying colorful Sharpie pens for guests to sign."