Birthday celebrations can be a haven for single-use plastics. Between balloons, tableware, decorations and gifts, the landfill created in a single day may far exceed what you’d otherwise create, but often and understandably justified by their once-a-year occurrence.
With the current pandemic upon us, money may be in short supply, but creativity and imagination is as abundant as ever. There are lots of fun and thoughtful things we can do to create a special day for loved ones. Things that not only ensure we’re looking after the environment, but when we may not be able to enjoy traditional large gatherings to celebrate a special day, things that can create treasured and long-lasting memories.
For too long, many of us have associated the price of a gift with how much we care about someone, but in an era where a lot of us have a bit of extra time up our sleeves, and maybe not as much disposable income, creativity should be the new currency.
1 ARTY INSTALLATIONS
Creating an arty birthday installation that represents one’s personality can make someone feel special. Using recognisable objects from within your home can add to this experience, too, as the person sees not only themselves, but the effort required to bring it all together. You might use scrabble tiles to create sentences or shapes cut from cardboard boxes to build a narrative. Use flowers, wild greens, leaves and seeds to create diorama-like table landscapes. Newspapers, too, can be shaped into a storytelling narrative that highlights the person’s interests and hobbies. You can go one step further and stick them along corridor walls, or hang them from the ceiling with string to create a walk-through household corridor experience on the way to a special birthday or festive meal.
2 TREASURE HUNT
Include some outdoor adventure in a child’s special day by replacing the traditional gardenbased treasure hunt with something further afield. Making use of a nearby forest, creek, abandoned land or railway line, you can equip the kids with a list of things to find and cross off. Encourage kids to see the world differently by including an item or two only visible through a magnifying glass. Depending on the time of year, you might also include flowers and local birdlife, items in the landscape left by humans, even edibles kids can forage for. Another fun thing to do in these spaces is to set challenges like building a cubby house with sticks and branches, or jumps more adventurous kids can launch their bikes off.
3 COLLECT AND CREATE
If you collected edible flowers or weeds on your treasure hunt, a lovely way to extend the celebratory feeling is to use them to decorate various aspects of the remaining day.
You might use them to decorate cookies or cupcakes to create unique and memorable party food. Or foraged flowers and other flora can make vibrant and aromatic table decorations that can be thrown into the compost instead of landfill when the kids have gone to bed. You can also make a beautiful crown for the prince or princess who might be receiving the royal treatment on their special day.
4 CREATIVITY IS CURRENCY
A quick trip to the shop to buy a gift or a card cannot compare to something that you have made yourself. And a homemade card with your drawings and handwriting, whether imbued with artistic flair or a quirky twist, will always outperform a mass-produced store-bought option. You might sew stitches on a piece of paper or cardboard to create words, patterns or images, or cut out pictures from magazines to create a story about the person you are celebrating.
It’s about getting to know things the person will appreciate by listening to their stories and watching their reactions to things. It might be propagating their favourite plant so they can keep it on their windowsill, or making artwork of their favourite colours, things, bands or photos they can hang on their wall to make a space feel like theirs.
5 EDIBLE ACTIVITIES
Kids love hands-on activities but that doesn’t mean you need to book an event or hire expensive experiences. Some of the best memories can be made in the kitchen, so instead of buying so-called birthday treats, have a go at making something you might otherwise buy. This might be as simple as involving the person in the process of making and decorating their own birthday cake, or pull out your pasta machine or rolling pin and spend the entire birthday gathering making pasta together. A birthday celebration can be as simple as one activity done in a relaxed and fun way and to the birthday person’s favourite music. Make it fun, make it supportive and let it culminate in a rewarding tagliatelle lunch!