7 Ideas for a Zero Waste Birthday Party

There are two types of people in the world. Those who really don't care about their birthday (my husband) and those who LOVE THEIR BIRTHDAY SO MUCH. (myself)

7 Ideas for a #zerowaste #birthdayparty from www.goingzerowaste.com

I LOVE my birthday. It's probably my favorite holiday with Thanksgiving being a solid second.  You're the center of attention and people give you cake! What could be better?

It wasn't any sort of milestone birthday, but we decided to do it up big! If you haven't realized from reading this blog, Justin and I are both nerds. My idol is Nancy Drew. She's kind of the best.

When I was in the third grade, my dad bought me a Nancy Drew computer game. (Message in a Haunted Mansion for the other nerds like me who are obsessed!) It took me at least five years to beat that game, but after I did I was hooked! I've played and beat - every. single. one. SO PROUD. (I promise there's a point to this)

7 ideas for a zero waste birthday party from www.goingzerowaste.com

It rained a lot when Justin and I were on our honeymoon. We were looking for fun things to do and stumbled onto an Escape Room. They're pretty popular, but this was the first time we were learning about them. We had SO much fun, it was just like a real life Nancy Drew game.

We escaped a pretty easy one in Portland, and then escaped one with only a 35% escape rate in New Hampshire. (Have I told you we're nerds?)

When we got back to San Francisco, we were looking for more escape rooms to play. We found the Houdini Room which only has a 19% escape room!

7 ideas for a zero waste birthday party from www.goingzerowaste.com

We knew this was it! This was going to be my big birthday weekend.

We booked a hotel room in SF, and invited out some of my best friends! My friend Danielle, came out early and we went to Credo (of course). My Dad knows me so well and got me a gift card for my birthday! 

We just hung out and got ready. I rented a romper from rent the runway, and I wore the crown Danielle surprised me with for my bachelorette party! We kicked the night off at A16 a gourmet pizza place which was AMAZING!!

I cannot rave about A16 enough. They were so nice and accommodating! It's definitely going on my top favorite spots in the Bay Area.

After that we walked to Palace of the Fine Arts where the Houdini Room is hosted. It was such a blast. Most importantly, we escaped!! I have to abide by their secrecy rules, but I can tell you it had a lot of very clever and very hard puzzles. It's definitely worth a visit!

7 ideas for a zero waste birthday party from www.goingzerowaste.com

Then after that we just went back to the hotel room, drank some wine and chatted. Birthdays are best when surround by friends and family. I'm so glad that I got to have such a fun night with those I care about most.

I am a little bummed that I forgot to take any photos. I always forget to take pictures during major life events, which is kind of a blessing and a curse. I'm glad that I'm so in the moment, but I always regret not at least having a couple of photos of the evening.

my tips for a zero waste birthday party for kids and adults alike!

1. lose the favors:

Do people still even do party favors? They're so unnecessary.  I've seen some for weddings, but I've never been very interested in them. They typically aren't something that I'd use.

2. focus on the experience:

When I think of having a fun birthday it's always centered around an event whether it's a group of friends playing laser tag, breaking out of an escape room, or just Justin and me wondering around a new city.

3. keep it intimate:

Focus on a smaller group. It's easier to go places together and if you're doing a party at home, you'll have a lot less dishes to clean!

4. unconventional gifts:

Always go for the experience gifts or have everyone chip in on the birthday experience together. Justin is the best at getting gifts. He always buys us tickets to something. I'm really looking forward to seeing Turandot at the SF Opera next month. My mom also got me a gift certificate to a local spa!

Other great experience gifts include gift cards to favorite local spots, a coffee date, or tickets to a sporting game. Consumables make great gifts too like candles, coffee beans, bottle of wine or flowers.

5. ditch disposables:

If you're having a party at home, use real dishes, real cups, and cloth napkins. You can read more about our big BBQ Bash wedding party in the backyard for inspiration. 

My biggest tip is to make sure your washing machine is empty when the party starts! Throw all of the cloth napkins into a load of laundry while you wash the dishes.

6: minimal decoration:

Keep your decorations minimal and compostable. The easiest way to do this is to decorate with nature! Flowers and leaves are so beautiful. I also love to spend extra care and attention on the edible decorations. It's an easy way to be fun and festive without being left with a lot of trash.

7: keep it clear:

Make sure you have clear instructions or signage so guests know where dirty dishes and compost belongs. Also, chat with your guests before hand so they know you're trying to have a waste free birthday party!


Have you had a zero waste birthday? What are your tips for a zero waste party?

Wild West Bash

Birthdays are a wonderful time of celebration. Our house was filled with karaoke, crackling backyard fires, spicy fajitas, and rich chocolate cake. I wanted food that could be fixed and eaten in your hands. Cupcakes with no wrapper, fajitas that could be fixed on a tortilla “plate” providing the perfect vessel for marinated steak, veggies, and an abundance of toppings. I wanted to avoid washing lots of dishes for the purposes of conserving water… and shirking responsibility.  I spent about four hours in the kitchen leaving me plenty of time for a trip to the brewery. 

The Napa Smith Brewery is tucked away under rolling hills. The large room is flooded with natural light and sprinkled with mega jenga, dart boards, and dog bowls for your furry friend. After sampling a flight and presenting my birthday present, we chose our favorite three and headed home. (Surprisingly, we had a lot of beer left over. Even more surprisingly it stayed carbonated and delicious for three days after being opened.)  A growler holds 64 ounces only 8 ounces shy of a six pack. Although glass bottles are recyclable the caps aren't. Cans are completely recyclable (I'm trying to curb most recycling, but that's another post), but a growler is refillable. It's something you buy and can bring back. Since we don't need to keep three in stock at all times, we will bring two back and refill one. 

Planning a party can be full of stress, disposables, and single use products, but it doesn’t have to be.  The night was filled with singing, laughter and full bellies. Below you’ll find a breakdown of the menu and recipes at the bottom. 

Dinner & Drinks for 10… Western Style with a budget of $200.00 

Back from the grocery store. Peppers and Avocados, even though in season, are difficult to find at my farmers market. Unfortunately both items had stickers on them, but the most unfortunate thing of all was the tortillaria being closed. There were no fresh tortillas only leftovers from earlier that day wrapped in plastic. I could have made the tortillas, but I didn’t have time. Next time I will need to plan better. Fortunately I was able to load my jars with sour cream, pico, and shredded cheese.

Back from the grocery store. Peppers and Avocados, even though in season, are difficult to find at my farmers market. Unfortunately both items had stickers on them, but the most unfortunate thing of all was the tortillaria being closed. There were no fresh tortillas only leftovers from earlier that day wrapped in plastic. I could have made the tortillas, but I didn’t have time. Next time I will need to plan better. Fortunately I was able to load my jars with sour cream, pico, and shredded cheese.

Food for a crowd. The wax pencil takes the place of wine charms. You can write your name on the glasses, and it will wash off later.

Food for a crowd. The wax pencil takes the place of wine charms. You can write your name on the glasses, and it will wash off later.

The Menu 

FOOD ($60.00)

Oven Fajitas with all the Fixin’s

      *tortillas, steak, bell peppers, onions, pico de gallo, guacamole, refried beans, rice, cheese, and sour cream. 

Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache 

 

DRINKS 

Alcohol ($40)

Whiskey Tea

      *Sweet Tea + Southern Comfort

Margaritas 

       *Homemade Margarita Mix + Tequila 

Beer ($90)

        *3 Growlers from a local brewery

 RECIPES

Fajitas for a crowd: 

Fits in 2 9x13 glass baking dishes 

            4 Red Bell Peppers

            3 Orange Bell Peppers

            2 Green Bell Peppers

            3 Medium Onions

            3lbs of Steak (Carne Asada) 

            1 Chili Pepper

            4 Cloves of Garlic minced

 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Toss everything in olive oil, fresh garlic, fresh cilantro, salt, pepper, juice of a lime, and extra chili powder if desired. Bake for 45 minutes. 

 

Refried Beans:

            4 Cups of Dried Beans 

            1 Medium Onion Diced

            1 Chili

            4 Cloves of Garlic Minced

 

Soak beans for 6 hours or Quick Soak. (Bring beans to boil, take off heat and soak for 1 hour.) Place beans in a slow cooker on high heat for 4-5 hours. Mash and add salt and pepper to taste. 

 

Rice: 

            4 Cups of White Rice

            3 Tomatoes 

            

Flash your tomatoes, put them over high heat until they’ve completely broken down. Put 4 cups of white rice, 8 cups of water, and tomato juice in a large pot and cover. Bring the pot to boil. Once boiling, turn the heat to low. Come back in 20 minutes, give it a good stir, and salt and pepper to taste. \

 

Homemade Margarita Mix 750ml: 

            14 Limes

            1/2 juice of orange

            3/4 Cup of Sugar

            Water, to fill up almost all of the bottle. (You'll be putting more liquid in, but some will evaporate out.)

Heat the sugar and water over medium heat. Add the juice of limes, orange, and stir. To get more juice out of a lime cut in half and microwave for 30 seconds.