My Eco-Conscious Baby Shower
Updated: Dec 11, 2019
Let’s start at the beginning: Invitations
An economical and eco-friendly alternative to traditional paper invitations sent via snail mail, is to send e-vites via email or text. This option worked wonderfully for me, as most everyone I invited to my shower uses their cell phone or email for communication on a daily basis. It is a good idea to follow up the evite with a confirmation of receipt, as a few people dismissed the text message as spam, or hadn’t checked their email in awhile. There were also a couple people I knew I just had to call up and invite because they weren’t very savvy with technolog, but that’s still a more economical and eco-friendly option than a traditional invitation.
In my evite I specified that I would not be creating a traditional baby registry. As this is my second pregnancy, I feel I have a pretty good idea of the items I will need for my new baby. My situation in life now is far different from my first pregnancy, when I was a teenager still and had no idea what to expect when it came to raising a child. For the most part I did no research of my own and instead let myself be swept along by consumer marketing and unsolicited advice from other mothers. The outcome? After my baby shower I was left with more clutter and stuff than any new mother should ever have to worry about. And slowly, as the years passed, I realized how unnecessary most of the baby registry items were.
So this time around I have some better ideas:
This website is for mothers lacking time or funds for a satisfactory maternity leave. For example, I am only receiving 6 weeks post-birth partially paid by the state. I can tell you right now, this is not going to be enough. If your situation is similar, consider setting up an account with MyTake12. People can donate to your maternity leave through this account, and you can use the money however you see fit (to pay bills, to buy food, or to get that expensive stroller). Even if you are given a good amount of time-off from your employer it is not usually paid enough to match your usual paycheck, and this extra money will come in very handy when all you want to be doing is focusing on loving the new little addition to your family. It can be a huge relief to see the funds building and also a great way to accept generosity from friends and loved ones without accepting unnecessary baby stuff.
This website can definitely replace a baby registry for new parents. Start an account and ask your guests to sign up for a specific day to bring a meal to your home. You will likely have many people in your life who want to do this anyways, and this way no one doubles up on days or overwhelms you with too many visits in one week. This is a great option for saving money and energy as well. With your meals lined up, you don’t have to worry about meal prepping before the baby arrives, or spending a ton of money on food after the baby is born. And really, food is one of the best gifts you can give a new mother or father, or anyone anytime.
This is the option I chose, as my situation is unique. I am opting to have a home birth and to receive all of my prenatal care from a midwife not covered by my health insurance. Yikes! It is expensive. But after having a hospital birth with my first baby, and a traumatic one at that, there was no other way around it for me. My midwife suggested starting a GoFundMe account - I never thought I would ever do such a thing. But it makes a lot of sense. I don’t need a baby swing or bouncer or fancy bottles or toys. What I need is to have a low-intervention birth in the comfort of my own home. That is going to be the most impactful occasion in my new child’s life, and it will have more influence on their development than any hot item on the baby market. So I humbly asked that my shower guests not purchase any gifts, and instead donate to my midwife and home birth fund. The website makes it easy for me and easy for my guests to donate, and I can be at peace knowing that any amount of dollars raised is going to be better than paying out of pocket for everything myself and also ending up with a bunch of baby stuff I won’t use.
As an extra precaution, in the body of my evite I specified again that I did not want to receive gifts. I also decided it would be far more beneficial to ask for guests to bring a children’s book instead of a greeting card. Such a simple request but with a great impact. No wasted paper going to a landfill, and plenty of entertainment for my new little bundle of joy. The books would be best if they were gently used, but new ones would do also. The thoughtfulness of a greeting card would not be lost, as the inside of a book cover is begging for a meaningful inscription.
Lastly, the evite I sent out specified a request for cloth diapers instead of disposable for a diaper raffle. If you have not considered cloth diapering I urge you to do so. The current market for cloth diapers is nothing like it was 15 years ago during my first pregnancy, when prefolds and safety pins were standard. There are a thousand different brands and styles of cloth diapers, which can be overwhelming and makes a cloth diaper raffle such a good idea for a new mother. By requesting each guest bring one cloth diaper any kind, any size, you are sure to get a variety to start you off on your cloth diapering journey and at no expense to yourself. If you don‘t end up receiving the sizes or types you will use, at least you know what not to purchase and you can sell back those unused diapers second hand and make some extra money while you’re at it.
Next order of business: Games
As mentioned above, a cloth diaper raffle is an excellent eco-conscious game to play alternatively to a traditional disposable diaper raffle.
In addition, the game “Don’t Say Baby” can easily be adapted to become eco-conscious as well. As guests arrive they are given an item to wear, usually a party item (like cheap plastic necklaces, buttons, clothespins, etc) that will eventually become party trash at the end of the day. Throughout the party, if you are caught saying the word “baby” you would have to give up your item to the person who caught you. The guest at the end of the party wearing the most items wins a prize. It’s a tough game to play when the word baby gets thrown around so much at such an event. And changing a small part of the game, like the wearable item, doesn’t effect the fun of the game in the least. I chose to purchase some colorful silicone teething beads, something I will definitely use after the party is over, and string one each for every guest to wear as a necklace. The game stays the same and I will have less trash to deal with at the end of the day.
I decided to also have a baby-sock hunt going on throughout the party. We will purchase a set of socks and hide them all over the party area. Then it’s a free-for-all. When all the guests have arrived let the game begin. Whoever has found the most baby socks at the end of the party wins a prize, and I win a bunch of baby socks for my new babe.
The last eco-conscious activity I have planned is not really a game, but something I feel is actually more fun: block decorating. I already have many art supplies and I had already been planning on purchasing a set of natural wooden blocks for my new little one. Remembering the last 15 years of my son’s life, blocks have proven to bring endless entertainment from open ended play at all ages. So at the shower, there will be an area set up for guests to decorate these blocks with sharpies or paint pens. This gives a personalized touch to a very generic toy, and if they so choose, guests may sign their name or write a message on a block. This way I will always remember who came to the shower and contributed to my child’s future development.
And what would games be without: Prizes
Make use of any items you already own for a classy gift or re-gift. Homemade perishables like a basket including tea or coffee (or hot cocoa, with a mug, spoon, cookie, candle, etc) would be appropriate. Second-hand gifting is a great way to stay eco-friendly and also save on spending. I often have a box of items suitable for regifting that I can choose from when the occasion presents itself. At the very least, if you’re going to make a brand new purchase, do it from a small local business. These are the best ways I can think of to keep your gifts/prizes eco-conscious. I also suggest not wrapping them, and instead just present them as guests win.
As a parting gift, an easy affordable and “green” gift would be live plants or succulents. With a little preparation you could start cutting and planting them a few weeks prior and that way not need to buy succulents new. They needn’t be large or extravagant; small plants are lovely. Pot them in repurposed glass jars, mugs, or tiny mason jars if you have the funds to do so. Simple twine or paint can add a beautiful touch of personalization and flare. I think plants are something almost everyone can appreciate (especially hard-to-kill succulents!) and it goes nicely with the theme of welcoming new life into the world.
It’s not a party without: Decoration
Use living and dried plants for beautiful and biodegradable/compostable decoration. Even fresh herbs like rosemary and dill are a perfect touch of green and beauty. For an even more traditional party look, you can make your own biodegradable confetti. Just gather leaves of all colors and use a regular-sized single whole-punch to punch out colorful confetti that can be returned to the earth after the party is over.
Linen tablecloths are a classy way to stay zero-waste compared to traditional paper party tablecloths that would end up in the trash at the end of the day. I would only suggest this however, if you already have them, as purchasing them isn’t exactly necessary for a party. Of course if you are truly concerned with how things will look then go with linen over paper or plastic, as they are much prettier and you can use them for future parties to come.
Last but not least, let’s talk about: Food and Related Items
Speaking of linen, using cloth napkins is also best. But since the occasion revolves around babies, why not use baby washcloths as napkins? I was going to purchase baby washcloths already because I intend to use them as cloth wipes when diapering my newborn so it seemed like a great way to get extra use out of an item and stay zero-waste. If you want a baby-friendly look, buy the washcloths with fun prints or patterns. If you’ve never used cloth napkins before, then this might be the time you make the switch for good because baby washcloths are actually the perfect size and softness for a napkin.
Ideally I would choose plates you already have for serving food, but depending on how many people are attending your shower, this might not be a very wise choice. If the number of guests is on the high side, consider choosing recyclable or biodegradable plates. Bamboo is always a great option, but at the very least stay away from plastic or plastic-coated plates. An entirely paper plate can be recycled at the end of the day, but plastic is forever.
As for drinks, my choice for the shower is to use repurposed glass jars (or any cups and mugs you already own) but again if the number of guests is high then this might not be your best option. Purchasing mason jars that could also double as a take-home gift would suffice if you can afford it. Though these items don’t carry the traditional party look, they are much more sustainable than the red solo cup.
The best way to keep plastic silverware off the supply list for your shower is to choose to serve finger foods only. My shower will have an assortment of vegan tea sandwiches, a veggie platter, and any other hors d’oeuvres that require nothing more than a toothpick to serve. Let’s face it, It’s always more fun to eat with your hands! And it will give your guests a reason to put their baby washcloth napkins to good use.