Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Green Birthday Celebration!

Hi guys, days passed quickly and my son is already 1. Like every parent we wanted to make his first birthday celebration a memorable one and of course I wanted to have it greener too!
While I was introducing Ruhaan to animals from Old McDonald's farm by visiting stables and farms around UAE, and looking at his amazing response each time, we came up with Farm theme birthday idea. Luckily his birthday falls in 'outdoor weather' of UAE.

So we decided to have actual animals for the birthday. The celebration venue was a Stable in heart of Dubai so there were lot of horses. A pony was available for pony-ride for kids and under petting farm there were animals like Chameleon, snake, duck, rabbit, turtle, dog. It was great enjoyment for not only Ruhaan but for all the kids and also their parents. Not only kids but all the adults touched, cuddled and feed the animals. Many of guests told me that they or their kids never experienced something like this before. To have this kind of interaction with animals in Dubai is a rare thing and I am happy we could have it for our farm party.

I still remember when few weeks back we visited this venue first time, Ruhaan heard a rooster's 'cock a doodle' do for the first time in his life, first he was startled but when he could see who is making this sound, he immediately started to imitate the sound :)

At every detail of party planning I tried to make party truly environment friendly. I made party invite on Microsoft office and emailed it to everyone. We didn't take a single print of it (though I felt like having one for keepsake). We kept party decoration to minimal, it made decoration part greener. One thing I would like to mention here is, I was looking for farm style wooden carton to keep juices, water bottle etc. We have friends who are in supermarket business, from them we could get the wooden cartons. We came to know from them that these cartons, they just throw and then municipality people collect it. There must be further system of reusing it, but I just thought why don't vegetable suppliers just collect yesterday's cartons in empty vehicles back and reuse it directly? It definitely triggered some interest in me, but couldn't manage to find out more.

Apart from few banners, which me and my husband made and some mini-black boards, which I can and would love to use at home, that's all in decoration. The venue itself was part of our farm theme and our minimal decoration blended well into the theme.

The greenest part of the party was return favours, which I made at home out of Ruhaan's baby food jars! In a year I had big collection of baby food jars, though I used baby food mainly during travels and when out. I used few of these cute jars to store spices, my mother in law used to do the same and I liked the idea since I saw it. But I still left with major number of jars, I thought why not to use them as Ruhaan's birthday return favours, it is like Ruhaan himself is giving these gifts. when I googled, I could find lot of ideas and it made me happy that many people are already doing this.

To match the theme of birthday I bought tiny farm animals, stick each on every cover of jar and then they were lying on top of table for many days, as I was on a mission to find a less toxic paint for covers. But Ruhaan had big fun all these days, my hubby who can do amazing mimicry, used to show him every animal and used to make sound of that animal. It was big entertainment at our home.
While I used to visit different stores to find my paint, I must admit that was not green and I used lot of petrol to drive around Dubai. I specifically wanted this paint low VOC or less toxic firstly because I was going to apply them indoors and secondly we were giving these favours to kids. So I didn't want Ruhaan and any of our friends kids to get exposed to toxins in paints.
At start I tried spray paint, which is generally used to paint these metal covers; but they were way too toxic and you can smell the toxins even after weeks. So finally with lot of discussions with hardware sales guys I could find the exact paint, less toxic, can be used on metal and green colour; just one small bottle, but that was enough for me. This paint is recommended for toys by manufacturer. The simple stickers on the bottle with hand written thank you message added personal touch to the return favours. I kept stone chocolates inside jars for more authentic look! Kids loved the farm animal bottle but all guests too loved these party favours.

What I loved the most about party was Ruhaan had great fun riding pony and touching and cuddling most of the animals! I hope when Ruhaan grows up and looks back at his first birthday party photos I can explain him all of this and will get opportunity to stress on Eco aspects of the party :)

Photo courtesy: Humza Nadeem