It’s easy to throw an eco-friendly baby shower with a few quick adjustments to the usual routine.
Start off right — go paperless!
The pre-designed cards at Punchbowl (www.punchbowl.com) are cute and easy to manipulate — five minutes from start to send. Comparable services exist at www.pingg.com and www.evite.com.
Your matching set of custom save the dates, invitations and thank-yous from www.greenvelope.com is another caliber of online invitation. Greenvelope tracks contacts and responses, notifies guests of changes and organizes your event page for a fee. They donate 10% of their fee to environmentally-conscious nonprofits. Save the dates are free!
Make a themed party
One idea is to ask guests build a breastfeeding support basket. Help smooth the transition with yummy snacks, nursing bras, nipple cream, neck pillow and magazines. Be creative without overspending. Think of the basket as supplies the new mom can keep nearby to entertain or comfort her during long stretches of nursing.
Another idea is the ever-popular-for-good-reason baby library. New or used, each guest brings a favorite childhood book to build a library of bedtime stories for the new baby. Mothers can even build a wish list online (www.bn.com) that guests can use to make purchases.
Create a memory book for the new mama. Give each guest a page and provide a small stash of scrapbooking materials. Ask everyone to share their happiest memory of life as a parent or their favorite memory of their mom. Organize and bind the pages before wrapping the finished project as a special gift for the mom-to-be.
D.I.Y. party favors
Skip the entire aisle of baby shower favors and make your own. Bake off a slew of sugar cookies in cute, baby-themed cutouts. Pack them in reusable bags, which you can buy (www.envirosax.com are my favorites) or sew up a stack of your own.
Build a diaper cake out of cloth diapers
Let the mom-to-be choose a cloth diapering system and ask guests to each bring one cloth diaper to build up the stash. Not only will this get your mom a leg up on her cloth diapering, it will educate guests on how far cloth has come. Roll dyed cloth wipes into flowers as decorations and use diaper pins to fasten the whole thing together.
Cotton Babies (www.cottonbabies.com) sells most of the popular cloth diapering systems with great descriptions and comparisons for cloth vs disposable diapers. They also sell cloth wipes and loads of eco-friendly baby gear.
Ditch the disposables
Invest in some reusable party wear or make use of your grandmother’s glass serving plates. Remember those? They’re just large enough for a plateful of appetizers and chances are she has matching cups!
Get creative with games
Come up with a game or two that you already have all of the equipment to play, like Swaddle This! After a quick demo, the new mama and her guests can practice swaddling skills on everything from couch cushions to books to Nalgene bottles. Provide several sizes of “swaddling cloths,” which can be anything from a wash rag to a queen-sized blanket. Each person gets to choose the item the next guest has to swaddle.
At my baby shower, a friend presented me with a giant bag that included three different diaper brands, wipes, her boys’ favorite bedtime book, and several other items she couldn’t live without when her babies were small. Seemed a little dull at the time, compared to the whale-shaped tub and bouncer with forest nymphs hanging off of it. As soon as the baby arrived and we began riffling through diapers for a non-leaker, however, I realized how practical and time-saving her thoughtfulness really was. I have used each and every item she wrapped for me, and I’m inspired to pass along the favor to other new moms.
Let your care for the environment filter into the events you throw, starting with your next baby shower!