Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Greening Up Baby Showers

Written By: Lynn Colwell and Corey Colwell-Lipson

No one deserves more to be celebrated in an earth-friendly way than moms-to-be and their babies. After all, everyone wants the best for their children and the best, as we now realize, is to make healthier choices for people and the planet.

Throwing a "green" baby shower doesn't take extra work, just planning. Start by thinking about the various aspects of a shower and how you can apply the 3Rs--reduce, reuse, recycle. For instance:
  • Reduce the amount of decor you buy, the amount of food you purchase, the amount of disposables, whether for wrapping, plates or table covering.
  • Reuse by repurposing items for decor. For instance, if you're giving the mom cloth diapers, hang them on a clothes line strung along one wall. Intersperse with colorful pieces of cloth, cute dresses or tops or pre-used ribbons. After the party, she takes everything home (including the clothes line).
  • Recycle everything from the event. Pass on decor items, compost what leftovers cannot be sent home with guests. 

    Most showers involve food and maybe some games. But almost inevitably, the focus is on opening gifts. While everyone loves giving and receiving, especially when it comes to adorable baby items, how about a little more emphasis on mom and a little less on "stuff?"

    Showering mom (and dad, if he's present), with loving, thoughtful gifts from the heart costs almost nothing and will help her (and him), feel amazing. Some ideas (note that these are alternatives--not every parent or group of guests will be interested in every one):

  • Create an calming atmosphere by dimming the lights, perhaps lighting some beeswax candles, settling mom into a comfy chair, offering her socks or slippers if she'd like. Ask someone to create a CD of mom's favorite relaxing music to be played during the event, then gifted to her.
  • Offer mom a rosewater footbath or a massage for hands, feet or neck. If the guests are comfortable with this (as well as mom), each one can take a turn offering mom a "touching" gift.
  • Prepare a selection of drinks--made from fresh organic fruit in summer or organic tea in cooler weather.
  • Have everyone bring a bead. Guests sit in a circle and string the beads one at a time explaining their choice as they do. Perhaps the color reminds them of the mom's eyes, or a place she loves. Maybe the bead came from a broken necklace inherited from a beloved grandmother. Guests also can write their explanations on a piece of paper that mom can keep with the bracelet or necklace. Encourage mom to wear the item or keep it nearby when she gives birth, or if she's adopting, when she receives the baby, as a reminder of the love that surrounds her.
  • Make mom a special plate of food. Each item can represent something about being a mother. (Remember to choose local and organic when possible, and of course, respect mom's tastes and/or allergies.) Some ideas include: a carrot representing family "roots," a mushroom representing "shelter," a cluster of grapes respresenting "closeness," blue cheese or another "smelly" one representing some of the distatesful things moms have to do etc. The items can be brought out on a plate, an example of what one represents offtered, then guests can toss out their own ideas.
  • Ask everyone to bring a stone from where they live. They can write a wish for the mom or baby or write their names in permanent ink. Add the stones to a pot in which a small live tree has been planted. If appropriate, parents can plant the tree with the stones around it as a lasting memory of the event.
  • Be sure to make laughter a part of the event. Maybe guests will recount cute things their kids have said or the silliest thing they ever did as a parent, or the time they "lost it."
  • Ask the mom and/or dad-to-be, to bring a piece of clothing, baby book or photo from when they were babies and talk about their childhood memories, how they perceived their parents, and/or the most important things they want to do for and with this baby.
  • If the parent-to-be's mom or dad is at the shower, encourage them to share memories or humorous anecdotes about the expectant parents as kids.
Eco-tips for choosing green baby shower gifts 
  • Select clothing items without chemicals (which are readily absorbed by a newborn's thin skin). Look for organic cotton, hemp, wool or silk.
  • The safest toys are made from natural, pesticide-free materials such as untreated wood or the fabrics listed above. Seek out products made locally, and/or that are handmade and that will last.
  • Give a gift of yourself such as preparing meals for the family, driving or doing errands weekly for the first months after the baby is at home, offering to rent a movie and preparing a "parents night in," along with babysitting, or doing a year's worth of car washes.
  • Choose to wrap your gifts in items that keep giving--baby blankets, crib sheets, towels, scarves or other reusables.
  • Here's a freebie that would be wonderful to include with any gift. It's a pdf of a brochure, Simple Steps for a Happy Baby, a Healthy Home and a Better World. Download, print out one copy (on recycled paper of course.)
To learn more tips on how to "Celebrate Green" purchase the Celebrate Green book!  It's packed full of green information!!!

Lynn Colwell and Corey Colwell-Lipson are mother and daughter and co-authors of Celebrate Green! Creating Eco-Savvy Holidays, Celebrations and Traditions for the Whole Family, available at 
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