Hi. I like you. Because if you are reading this, you are concerned about raising little humans who are kind to animals and respectful of their rights to share the earth with us. So let me start by saying thank you.
Throwing a party to celebrate your kind little human provides many opportunities to model compassion for animals, and not just for other children. You’re modeling for their parents as well. Here are some simple and effective ways to make your celebration one that will have the animals also saying, “thank you!”
“A party without cake is just a meeting.” – Julia Child
Let’s start with any party’s most anticipated event: eating CAKE. This recipe from Nora Cooks boldly claims to be “the best chocolate cake ever, vegan or otherwise,” and I whole-heartedly agree. It always turns out perfectly, has impressed people who “have never had vegan food” (oy, that’s another blog post for a different website), and is incredibly simple to throw together. I admit I usually cheat and use Miss Jones’ vegan frosting but you won’t judge me, right? Top with a few berries and edible flowers (often available in the produce section of your grocery store near the packaged herbs) and voila! You have a beautiful masterpiece made without dairy or eggs that will wow the persnicketiest party goer. Not a chocolate fan? Nora’s got you covered with vanilla, red velvet, carrot, and lemon flavors. Want to make it even easier? PETA’s ready to help you hack with mixes!
Aside from littering and using up a relatively rare element here on earth, helium balloons are dangerous for animals who can mistake deflated balloons as food. Sea turtles are extra vulnerable, as balloons are easily confused for their jellyfish prey. Once ingested, balloons can cause blockages, often leading to starvation. The attached strings or ribbons can be just as deadly. Animals can become entangled, and these entanglements can cause infections, amputations, starvation, and drowning. Talk about a party fowl! So how in the world will people find the house without these cheery, floating orbs of doom? Strings of colored lights, banners and streamers are colorful attention-getters, and can either be reused or recycled.
ANIMALS ARE NOT ENTERTAINMENT
Petting zoos and pony rides may be a blast for the kiddos, but I promise you the animals are not having fun. Choose not to hire businesses that inflict stress on animals by forcing them to travel, perform and be around excited children who may not know how to be gentle.
Likewise, if you’re looking for a venue to use instead of your home, make sure no animals are on site (unless it’s a legitimate sanctuary, of course!). Whether its main attractions are animals like at SeaWorld, or an amusement park with rides as well as animals in captivity, having your party there sends the message to children that using animals for our entertainment is acceptable and normal. Laser tag, bowling, indoor skate parks, IMAX theaters and trampoline centers like Sky Zone are fabulous ways to get active, have fun AND choose compassion for animals.
“For it is in giving that we receive.” – St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals
I know so many parents who are overwhelmed with their children’s amount of… well, straight-up stuff. Stuff everywhere. If you’re feeling this way, consider talking to your child about giving for their birthday, as opposed to receiving. Or, more specifically, how the feeling of helping others in need is the best gift any of us could receive. Check out your local companion animal shelter or, if you’re lucky, your local farm animal sanctuary to see what their donation wish list is. Make that your gift registry! After the party is over, plan a special day of taking your child and all the supplies collected to the shelter or sanctuary, and be sure to save some time to give love to its residents.
BEAUTY SHOULDN’T HURT OTHERS
Face painting is a super-fun activity to do with kids, but let’s be sure it makes the world beautiful for all. Check to see if your paints are vegan (meaning no animal ingredients such as lanolin, beeswax, shellac and carmine pigment) and cruelty-free (meaning not tested on animals). Jest Paint’s site has a fantastic breakdown of what to look for and why, as well as a link for only vegan options.
Leaving a party with goodie bags was so fun as kids, we grew up and rebranded them as SWAG. Instead of sending your guests home with things that will end up in a landfill a week or two later, consider these options:
- Packets of flower or veggie seeds with a small biodegradable pot
- Ask your local animal sanctuary to donate discounted or free tour gift certificates
- Stainless steel reusable straws
- A bamboo toothbrush
- Homemade Play-Doh in a reusable jar or tin
- An animal-shaped cookie cutter
- Origami paper with instructions to make your child’s favorite animal
- Homemade flavored popcorn! Just skip #7 on the popcorn list. Tequila. Or hey… send that home with the parents in a grown ups’ goodie bag! You’ll be a legend.
Large, noisy parties may not be fun for your non-human family members. Dogs, cats, and other beings can become very stressed and nervous when new people – especially little ones who tend to move quickly and squeal with glee – are gathering around them. Plan ahead to have your companion animals in a safe, quiet space where they cannot escape or be visited without supervision.
WE’RE ALL ANIMALS
Why not end the party with an exciting raffle for a lucky winner? Maybe the children wore name tags they can drop in a hat. Or perhaps they can do a creative art project where they draw their favorite animal on a colorful piece of paper. However you decide to make your “tickets,” raffle off a box set of We’re All Animals: 30 stories to teach kids humility, tolerance and compassion. These were created by The Good Kid Project’s very own founder, Nick Coughlin, and his darling mom, Kathy. What a lovely way to continue planting seeds of kindness long after the festivities end!