Happy eco-birthday to all

Continuing with our birthday party theme…

Children's birthday parties are not generally known for their eco-godliness. Disposable decorations, plates, wrapping paper, dollar store loot bags – you know the drill. I've certainly been guilty of this myself, and though every year I swear I'll do better, I still have a ways to go. Often my lack of organization is the main offender – our parties are definitely as simple as you can get (glorified playdate all the way!), but still they seem to creep up on me out of no where.

Made By Me Wooden Toy KitsThis year, Green Planet Parties came to my rescue with a last minute frantic order from me. I purchased ten Made By Me Wooden Toy Kits to give to our guests instead of traditional loot bags. They were a big hit with the kids (and the parents)! Last year we did up a CD of Alex's favourite music to give to the kids – it was definitely an eclectic collection! Other ideas I considered (and am keeping in mind for next year): a packet of seeds and a small pot, decorating cookies at the party and then giving each child another cookie and decorating supplies to take home, and homemade playdough in different colours. If I'm feeling really crafty (and have figured out how to use my sewing machine!), I'll make cloth bags out of scrap pieces of fabric.

Because we do small parties at home, using 'real' dishes instead of disposable has never been a problem (I borrow extra dishes from friends as needed). If that's not possible for you, Green Planet Parties sells biodegradable, compostable and reusable tableware. Or you could stock up over the year by buying used dishes at garage sales and flea markets for your own reusable stash.

And what's a party without decorations? Buying decorations that you can reuse each year is one good option for making your party greener. Or you can make your own – making this too-cute banner from newspaper is on my list for next year!

For invitations, help your child make them from scrap pieces of paper and cardboard – kids can totally get away with the invites looking less than professional! Or skip the paper completely and go electronic, with online invitations from free services like Pingg.

How do you keep the lid on the waste when it comes to birthday parties? Please share your ideas below! Also check out our recent guest blog post on creating themed birthday parties. And don't forget to enter this week's birthday-themed giveaway of a balloon artist – this giveaway closes at midnight, Friday May 15, so get your entry in now!

Logan in the Boston Bruins dressing room in March. Zheno Chara (right) climbed Mount Kilimanjaro to raise funds for improving lives in Africa and Andrew Ference (left) is active in supporting African communities.

Young local hero sheds hope in Sierra Leone

Staff Picks – Execution Dock by Anne Perry