So today I am a mother of a seven year old. How grown up do we both feel!
It all started with an early awakening. All I remember was that it was dark. And then there was the excitement at the Birthday Sack that had been left at the bottom of Little J's bed.
Thanks to an earlier comment on the blog, instead of buying wrapping paper, I'd bought the gorgeous sack from Cavern4 in Bury St Edmunds. At £12.00 I figured it would save me a whole lot of wrapping in years to come and that delving into the sack would be as much fun for excited young boys as ripping off wrapping paper.
His presents included a book from his brother, a box of figures from us and a digital camera bought with the money sent by his grandparents and other relatives. A Kodak 7.1 megapixel bargain at just £40, which will be far more longer-lasting than a blue plastic toy camera bearing a similar price. The camera was used for the photos on today's post, so you can tell the quality.
So off to school he went, with plans for a special birthday lunch, while I prepared myself for his low-key birthday tea!
Of course I wanted it to be as Zero Waste as possible. And as it happened, it was. More by fluke than good planning.
As ever I made it up as I went along, in my usual style, commonly known as flying by the seat of my pants! And this is how it all came together....
1. We only invited 5 close friends, plus his brother! Our parties are normally bigger, which means more food, more expense and more waste. I replaced written invitations with verbal invitations, which saved both paper and money.
2. We reduced the party food to just pizza, with tomatoes, carrots, cucumber and some Pringles, as well as pineapple, cheese and ham to decorate. I'm a busy working mum now, so I'm afraid this year I relied on the shop-bought stuff, but all the packaging was recyclable thanks to our local facilities. If it wasn't I would have stuck to sandwiches or home-made pizza. So thank goodness for our mixed plastic film depository eh - that got me out of a potential big hole!
3. For the first time ever I refrained from buying matching disposable tableware and reused some plastic cups, which I recovered from a school event last year. I've now got a supply that will last me years! The napkins and tablecloth are reusable too. The pretty plastic plates had been borrowed from a friend. I didn't want to buy paper ones and no way was I going to risk our china!
4. I went to great efforts to make the food look attractive, using a star shaped biscuit cutter to create ham and cheese stars. Great efforts indeed! It only took me five minutes! It also paid off with fabulous looking pizzas. The very few leftovers were bunged in the Bokashi bin. Despite my own hunger there was NO way I was going to pick at those, not with the tummy bugs that are circulating around school at the moment! My legs are already feeling wobbly!
5. The dessert was bananas. How boring you might think, but not yesterday's 'nanas! We turned it into a game, offering strawberries and sweeties as decorations, to see who could make the best banana picture. The plates were all cleaned up with the exception of a couple of leftovers, which ended up in the compost bin. Little T was the official photographer, so he didn't have time to peel his own banana but he still mustered a very quick effort.
6. We ditched the modern game of "pass the parcel with a prize in every layer" and replaced it with seven different party games. Each game had one winner, and we had an awards ceremony at the end of the party with just one prize for each category, including the best dressed pizza, best decorated star, best banana picture, best smile, best dancing. Yes, I know I'm an old cheapskate, but we also had good old-fashioned fun such musical bumps, musical statues and musical chairs.
7. The prize for each child was 10 penny sweets in a paper bag, bought at the local sweet shop that morning, followed by a lap of honour at avoiding the plastic Haribo multipacks! Yes I know I can recycle them, but it was one less thing to worry about!
8. I also ditched the party bag in favour of a tube of Smarties, which Little J wanted to give as a thank you to each child. I'm not sure I should admit that they were the large Christmas stocking versions that retail at £1. In retrospect, the little ones would have been enough but the kids thought they were fab as well as the pottery star that they'd painted as a party activity.
9. And finally, the cake, a Doctor Who Tardis, in packaging that I can recycle. I know I could have opted for a home-baked one, but I need more practice. I've actually had six years of practice but both the birthday boy and I thought he could do with a break! There's only so much lemon drizzle a young boy can take.
10. And nobody noticed last year's candles!
And as we waved goodbye to all the very excited little children at the end of the party, tootling off with their little balloons, I realised there was very little mess.
I also realised that for a party it had been very cheap.
Party food £12.
Sweeties to decorate bananas: £1.50
Prizes (little sweetie bags): 70p
Pottery stars £3.50
Balloons (already blown up at the party shop because I'm a lazy old hag) £1.75
Well that's the cheapest party we've held in a long time! There was a time when I would have spent £35 on party bags alone! So that's not bad for 7 kids. If I'd made the cake and the pizzas, I could have saved even more!
So today, we're celebrating 7 years old and 1 day. As well as a slim bin at home, the only thing in other people's bins will be a Smartie lid and a balloon, unless of course they know about composting balloons.
So I think I need a nice cup of tea to celebrate, not forgetting a piece of party cake of course, before I head off to another party this afternoon.
Life's just one big social whirl!