More Than Just A Card…

Fair Trade Birthday Card by Cards from Africa – $4.99

Looking for thoughtful birthday card ideas? In the past we’ve shared some great tutorials for handcrafting your own unique cards. But if DIY isn’t your style, why not support a worthy cause and give a fair trade card next time? There are so many great options for beautiful and thoughtful cards handmade by people paid a fair wage. Two of our favorite places to buy fair trade cards include Hope for Women and Cards from Africa. You can order cards online, or pick one up at  local fair trade store (many carry these lines).

Hope for Women is an organization committed to providing sustainable employment for economically disadvantaged women worldwide that offers products exclusively made by women so they can take control of their lives and their futures. Cards from Africa’s mission is to improve the life of orphaned children in Rwanda. Aside from offering fair wages, Cards from Africa also provides entrepreneurial training and education to employees to enable them to someday start businesses of their own! So the next time your shopping for a birthday card, don’t waste your $5 on a Hallmark card, support a worthy cause instead by buying fair trade and handmade!

Have you ever given a fair trade gift before?

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Have A Paper Holiday: 3 DIY Paper Crafts For A Homemade Christmas!

At MABW we love crafting, reusing, re-purposing, and putting a personal touch on special occasions. Today we’ve got 3 tutorials to share with you that will have you crafting most everything you need this Holiday season with paper!

DIY Recycled Paper Tree

We love this idea! Imagine using brown packaging paper, newspaper, or magazines to make mini versions of this tree? Can you say great centerpiece for practically nothing?!!!

DIY Tutorial for Recycled Paper Christmas Tree by Casa Sugar

DIY Tutorial for Recycled Paper Christmas Tree by Casa Sugar

DIY Star Wars Snowflakes or Garland

These snowflakes would make any nerd proud. Such a fun idea, you could try it with different colored paper too!

Free Printable Template from Matters of Grey

Free Printable Template from Matters of Grey

Free Holiday Gift Tags

These printables from Sass & Peril make adorable homemade packaging a cinch this holiday season!

Gift Tag Printables by Sass & Peril

Gift Tag Printables by Sass & Peril

Which is your favorite holiday paper craft? We are partial to the Star Wars Snowflakes 🙂

4 Handmade Gift Tutorial Collections We Love

We hope you had a wonderful and loving Thanksgiving! But with the next round of holidays right around the corner there is little time to catch your breath. Don’t worry, we’ve collected some links to great tutorials for you and your kids to make handmade gifts this year! Handmade gifts can save money and are so much more personal. Oh and there are a lot of ways to reuse materials or repurpose scraps—making the handmade option more green! If you don’t have time to hand make gifts this year you should think about supporting artists and crafters that do hand make beautiful things on sites like Etsy! These tutorials make great gifts for kids and adults alike! We love the blog Everything Etsy, and she has rounded up 101 Simple Handmade Gift Tutorials for Kids! These would be great for your kids to make for their friends, or for you to make for them!

101 Simple Handmade Gifts for Kids by Everything Etsy

The 36th Avenue Blog has a list of 21 handmade gifts for guys! Great for husbands, boyfriends, dads, brothers, or just friends! Definitely worth checking out!

21 Handmade Gifts for Guys from 36th Avenue

The Huffington Post even came out with a list of last-minute handmade gift ideas that is worth perusing! These are great small gifts that would be worth making to have on hand for those times when someone unexpected comes over for the Holidays!

Homemade Gift Ideas: Quick and Easy Last-Minute Gifts by The Huffington Post

The blog The Tip Junkie is another great go-to gift-making guide. We love her collection of hand-made gifts you can see here.

Tip Junkie’s Homemade Gift Tutorials

 

Are you trying homemade gifts this year? Need some ideas? Let us know what you want to learn to do!

Sustainable Gifting: Give A Gift That Supports A Cause

Birthday’s and holidays are sometimes overshadowed by the gift-giving process. These are times to share memories and experiences with loved ones, not necessarily getting a new pair of shoes or the latest iPhone. We aren’t saying that at Make A Birthday Wish we don’t get excited about presents… we do. But we get excited about giving presents to those that are in need and truly could use a boost. So if you are looking to show your kids the beauty of compassion and giving (not receiving), or if you are looking for a gift for the person that has everything why not consider giving the gift of charity. We’ve got a collection of great causes that will give you the chance to give the gift of charity no matter what your budget!

  1. Oxfam America UnwrappedOxfam is a great relief and development organization working to save lives, end poverty, and fight for social justice. Through their “Unwrapped” program you can choose from one of 70 unique gifts (ranging from 40 chicks to mosquito nets to art supplies) to donate in honor of your friend or loved one for their birthday or for the holidays. You will get a card with an image of the unique gift you chose and then you have the option to personalize it online and have it sent to the recipient directly, or receive the card in the mail for you to handwrite a personal message. Donation prices range from $12 to $1,500, so there really is something for any budget.
  2. TisBest – TisBest is the original charity gift card—which means you select a design (or upload your own image) for the gift card and choose a value between $10 and $5,000 to give to someone special. You can have the gift card emailed, print from home, or have a physical card made of recycled plastic sent to you or the recipient directly. To use the card you redeem the code and select up to three charities of your choice to donate to. This is especially great for someone that wants to be more involved in the process. Their are hundreds of charities to choose whose missions range from helping animals to promoting the arts to education to promoting women’s rights. There really is a charity for everyone at TisBest.
  3. DonorsChoose.org – This online charity platform helps you give gifts that support classrooms in need. Teachers and schools can post projects that you can donate to specifically, or you can give a gift card, a tote bag, mug, or t-shirt that supports the classroom causes. If you are getting married you can even create a wedding registry for people to donate to in place of gifts.
  4. Make A Birthday Wish – Of course we think our cause is a worthy birthday gift for the humanitarian in your life! If you are looking for a unique and memorable gift why not sponsor a party for children in need (or sponsor a child and purchase a gift from our wish list)? We throw birthday parties and buy presents each month for children in need in the San Jose area in partnership with West Valley Community Services. If you aren’t in the Bay Area and prefer a more local cause look into charities where you live that also have donation and gift options!

Have you ever given or received a charity gift? What did you (or the recipient) think?

 

DIY Decorations: Yarn Chandelier

This awesome DIY decoration tutorial comes from blogger Nicole at Libby Lane! Her blog is full of great decorating ideas be sure to check it out. We especially love this tutorial that shows you how to make yarn chandeliers that you will want to keep up in your home year round! Give it a try and let us know what you think.

Materials:

  • Yarn of different colors
  • School Glue (Elmer’s works nicely)
  • Corn Starch
  • Vaseline
  • Dowel rod/pole for hanging
  • Scissors
  • Balloons
  • Bowl for Mixing

Steps:

  1. Blow up balloons: To achieve various sized yarn chandeliers consider using a large punching balloon as the main focal point and add standard balloons for the surrounding areas. Inflate the standard balloons to approximately half capacity to keep as true of a circular shape as possible.
  2. Assemble work space: Place a long pole or dowel rod between two chairs to create a DIY ‘drying station’. Place a plastic trash bag or disposable plastic tablecloth underneath where you will hang the balloons. Your lanterns will require some dry time so, it may be a project best suited for indoors or your garage where wind will not be a factor.
  3. Attach balloons to rod: Tie yarn around the stem of the balloon and hang from the dowel rod. Be sure that the balloon is suspended and not touching the surrounding balloons.
  4. Mixing: Cover each balloon in a light coating of petroleum jelly. This ensures that the yarn will not stick to the balloon once it is dried and popped. Next, mix the school glue (about half of the bottle) with approximately 1/2 cup of cornstarch and approx. 1/4 cup of water. You can add more cornstarch and glue if you need a thicker paste consistency.
  5. Wrapping the balloons: Dip the yarn into the glue mixture, squeeze out the excess, and begin wrapping the yarn around the balloon vertically and then switch to horizontally. Once you have covered a good part of your balloon, cut the yarn and tie to a surrounding piece. I chose to do this near the stem of the balloon so it would not be as obvious when hanging.
  6. Drying/popping: Allow yarn chandeliers to hang for 24 hours in a dry, covered area. Patience in this step is a virtue! DO NOT attempt to shorten this process! When your yarn is dry, it is time to pop the balloons! The dried glue crystals on the yarn will easily flake off when lightly tapped.
  7. Hang and admire your chandeliers!

Green Party Decoration Swap Out: Try Pom-Poms Instead of Balloons!

Balloons are treated loads of nasty chemicals: ammonia, tetramethyl thiuram disulfide, zinc oxide and added plasticizers! Not to mention the harm they can cause to marine life if they find their way to the ocean instead of the landfill. So try making and hanging pom-poms from your ceiling. These look super cute and are a very affordable alternative.  Martha Stewart has a great tutorial here for how to make paper pom-poms in only 4 easy steps!

All you need to get started is:

  • Tissue paper in desired colors (8 sheets per pom-pom), by Martha Stewart Crafts, available at Michaels
  • 24-gauge white cloth-covered floral wire
  • Scissors
  • Monofilament
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eVites

Handmade Wedding Invitation

Handmade Wedding Invitation (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Earlier this week we shared some tips for making your birthday party a little greener. One easy tip that saves time, money, and trees is using online invitations, or eVites! Paper invitations are nice, but these days, making the switch to web-based invites just makes more sense. It allows your guests to sync the event to their phones and calendars immediately – so they don’t forget! It also allows you to avoid the hassle of calling around for RSVP’s (which you know usually ends up happening). Instead people can respond right from their computer with the click of a button.

Going paperless doesn’t mean you have to lose your personal flair. There are lots of options to customize your eVites with themes, images, colors, music, etc. Did I mention that most online invitation sites are free to use – ka-ching! Some sites that we recommend looking into to send your next eVite include:

  • Evites – This site is great! It’s easy to use, free, and you can sign-up via Facebook! Features include a variety of pre-made designs, the option to build or upload your own design/image, RSVP tracking, importing contacts, and so many more!
  • Pingg – They have some awesome free designs to choose from, and some that you can upgrade and pay for. We love this design and this one too!

Need some tips on wording your eVites? This blog post has great advice on how to get the right message across for your event!

What are your favorite online invitation resources? Have you sent an eVite or eCard before? What did you think?

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9 Green Birthday Party Tips

Candles spell out the traditional English birt...

Candles spell out the traditional English birthday greeting (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here at Make A Birthday Wish we are always looking for unique and fun birthday party tips, and we get even more excited when they can save us some green while lessening our impact on the planet. Some basic birthday tips and tricks we have compiled from different articles include:

  1. Involve Your Kids In The Planning – Let the party planning be an opportunity to teach your kids about environmental issues and giving back. Involving them will build their excitement, enthusiasm, and pride in making more sustainable choices.
  2. Invitations – The best option is to send evites. Later this week we will share some great free sites to do this with and give you some pointers on fun phrasing and wording! If you still want the physical invitations opt for those printed on recycled paper with eco-friendly inks.
  3. Party Decor – Use decorations that are reusable, sourced from recycled or repurposed materials, or consider combining the decorations with the goodie bags/party favor (think potted plants in colorful pots the kids can paint and personalize)!
  4. Rethink Gifts – Ask for presents to be wrapped in an eco-friendly way (see our tips here), or forego traditional gifts altogether. Ask for gifts like books, seeds, crafting supplies, or for contributions to a college savings plan. You could even suggest or ask guests to make a donation to a charitable cause in place of a gift. Let your child help pick a charity or project that means something to them.
  5. Food & Drink – Don’t serve chips, candy and soda. Not only does this result in screaming hyper kids, it is bad for their health and the planet. Instead opt for healthier options like local organic fruits, veggies, and homemade treats. Be sure to check back to our blog for recipes and ideas.
  6. The Cake – The centerpiece of the party… Save money and make your own cake at home using healthy and organic ingredients! Recipes to come!
  7. Dishware – Opt for reusable plates, cups, and utensils to serve up the food and cake. Either use what you already have at home or add some color to special occasions with recycled and reusable dishware (like those by Re-play here, or those by Preserve here).
  8. Games – When planning games and activities consider using recycled materials, involving the kids in gardening, or exploring the outdoors.  Another great idea is an at home fashion/dress-up party with old clothes, hats, and shoes. The kids can dress up, walk down a runway, and take home pictures as keepsakes. Some of the websites we compiled below offer even more ideas!
  9. Goodie Bags – Handout reusable cloth bags filled with healthy treats like homemade granola, fruit bars, a sketchbook, or seeds. Give gifts that are living, or last longer than most cheap plastic trinkets stuffed in goodie bags.

There are a lot of great ideas and resources for planning a greener birthday party. Check out some of these below:

Do you have any eco-friendly birthday planning tips to share?

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Eco Friendly Gift Wrapping – No Green Required.

Traditional Japanese wrapping cloth,furoshiki,...

Traditional Japanese wrapping cloth,furoshiki,katori-city,japan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Everybody enjoys the excitement and surprise of unwrapping a gift, both on their birthdays and when the holidays roll around. But the impact of gift wrap and packaging on the environment and our wallets is staggering. Nearly 1/3 of the waste generated in the U.S. is made up of packaging materials. It has been estimated that if every American family wrapped just three presents in reused materials, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields! Even more incredible, if each family reused just two feet of holiday ribbon, the 38,000 miles of ribbon saved could tie a bow around the entire planet.

Greening the way we give gifts doesn’t mean using green paper or spending more green (i.e. money). Reusing materials and rethinking the way we wrap our gifts can reduce our impact on the planet, save our wallets, and create beautiful and personalized gifts. Some ideas you might consider:

  • Furoshiki – This is a Japanese tradition of wrapping gifts in cloth. Consider using scrap cloth from your sewing bin, old cloth napkins, sheets, curtains, or clothing that could make for beautifully wrapped gifts. Consider securing the gift with buttons, safety pins, ribbons, or knots.
  • Newspaper & Paper bags – There are lots of ways to personalize and embellish newspaper and paper bags to create beautifully wrapped gifts. You can add origami embellishments, ribbon, glitter, or stamps to dress up the packaging. If you are going the newspaper route it could be fun to highlight words that have meaning to the person you are giving the gift, or even make a puzzle about the surprise that is beneath the paper by highlighting clues!
  • Children’s Drawings – This is a great way to really personalize a present, and would work well for parents, grandparents, teachers, or anyone that has a close connection to your little one.
  • Old Shopping Bags & Gift Bags – It seems like common sense, but reusing the bag the store gave you to give your gift is a great idea. Again you can embellish it with ribbons or stamps to add a personal touch.
  • Old Maps or Posters – If you have old maps or posters lying around your house those can make excellent wrapping paper for gifts!
  • Wrap the Gift in a Gift – If you really want to be eco friendly try wrapping a gift with another gift. For example wrap jewelry or a small purse in a pretty scarf!
  • Cloth Bags & Sturdy Boxes – Using cloth bags or very sturdy decorative boxes means that your gift wrap can be reused for future gifts or for storage!

At Make A Birthday Wish we are accepting gently used gift bags or ribbons to wrap presents for children! So if you are interested in helping out and clearing out old bags send us an email at office@makeabirthdaywish.org and we can set up a way to collect your bags!

Do you have any of your own eco friendly ideas for wrapping gifts? Or any pictures of your green gift wrapping – share them with us!

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