We'll have giveaways at the Adelaide Pregnancy Babies & Children’s Expo

If you’re in Adelaide make sure you drop into the Connect2mums stand at E17 at the Adelaide Pregnancy Babies & Children’s Expo. Friday 25 March – Sunday 27 March at the Adelaide Showgrounds.

You’ll have the chance to win over $1000 in prizes including fabulous prizes from us!
Connect2mums is the online community connecting mums and they'll have gorgeous hot pink goodie bags for the first 1000 entrants in the competition!

The Expo provides expectant parents and parents with young children with access to friendly professionals from government departments, health organisations and respected support groups and companies.

It also showcases the newest and most practical products. Visitors can benefit from the hands on demonstrations and leave with an appreciation of the best options available to suit their needs. There is also lots of fun, free entertainment for parents to enjoy with their children, including Dorothy the Dinosaur.

Visit the expo website for your free ticket and to plan your day.

The first eco party box ...

In February 2011 Cyclone Yasi hit Australia's far north, devastating the regions of Tully, Tully Heads and Mission Beach as well as other areas close by.

Peace Mitchell and Katy Garner of Connect2Mums were instrumental in helping communities pick up the pieces in the region nearby after Cyclone Larry destroyed Far North's Innisfail in 2006. They formed Mothers Helping Others - a not for profit organisation helping children and families. It played a vital role in rebuilding not just the local areas but also many lives through a range of practical and innovative ways.

Tina with the first order
Well in February 2011 they were at it again - and Eco Party Box Australia wanted to do its bit.

Even though we hadn't launched the business we donated a Children's Party Box as part of the Connect2Mum's Cyclone Yasi auction with all proceeds going to victims of the devastated areas.

The auction was done using facebook with our first Eco Party Box going to Cath from Melbourne who bidded $30.00 (we included the postage too).

We are glad our first Eco Party Box was created to help those in need.

Tina x

Eco Parties – How to best invite nature to your party

Inspiration and ideas for your child's eco party
Birthdays are special. Children rave on about them all year and for us Mums there is nothing more fun than spoiling them when their day finally arrives.

But just because it’s that one special day of the year even doesn’t mean your eco footprint won’t leave a heavy dent on the environment.

In recent years the green options for children’s parties have improved and now you can find eco alternatives for all the traditional party supplies. Not just plates, cups and cutlery made from natural sources but also decorations, candles, disposable bags and loot bags.

Australian-based family company Eco Party Box offers a clean, green, convenient way for Mums and Dads to celebrate their children’s birthdays with colourful 100% compostable party supplies - so that after the big day, when the traditional disposable party products would normally go straight to landfill, you can compost your eco party supplies and help grow your garden.

Such products are a fun, convenient and affordable way to eco your party but it doesn’t have to stop there - here are some other ideas to make your child’s party a totally eco and chic one.

This is what you’ll need:
• A little bit of nature,
• a dash of creativity,
• a pinch of technology;
• and of course some good organisation and forward planning.

1) Choosing a Theme
Superheroes, fairies, pirates - they can all be ecoed up. Create healthy food to suit the theme. Try and use a natural setting and you and your child's imagination to create the backdrop with cardboard paintings helping to create the appropriate scenes.

Natural themes can include a farmyard, fairy land, jungle party and a treasure hunt.

It also doesn't have to be themed - the natural beauty of a park with carefully thought out natural decorations can create a beautiful ambience.

Alternatively Eco Party Box also offers all you need for a diertgirlworld themed party. dirtgirlworld is a popular television show on ABC Kids promoting the natural world and green ideas to toddlers and young children. It actually encourages children to get into the garden and "get grubby". Eco Party Box offers a dirtgirlworld themed party box as well as other dirtgirlworld items - including invites and cards and more.

2) Choosing a Venue
If the weather is good hold your event at a local park or playground. Hang decorations in the trees and use nature to set the party mood. Give kids the space they need to run around. Look for places that offer a chance to introduce the kids to nature.

If weather just won't permit outside play there are plenty of indoor ideas to help invite nature to your children's party, as listed here.

3) Invitations and Cards
If you email or sms your friends your party invitations you’ll save on paper. Paper manufacturing uses large amounts of water and energy and creates pollution that you can help limit by going electronic rather than traditional with your invitations.

E-vites, or electronic invitations require you to send a template or custom invitation to your guests' email accounts. Guests can respond by electronically checking their names off the list and can even see who else plans to attend. Visit www.smilebox.com for some great e-invitation ideas.

You can make invitations yourself from recycled cards, magazines or paper.

Seeded invitations are also a great idea. You can make your own using old newspaper. When the party is over guests can plant their invitation and grow flowers or vegetables.

You can also choose invitations from Earth Greetings printed 100% carbon neutral with vegetable inks on 100% post-consumer recycled paper. Check out our awesome range from birthday cards to dirtgirlworld invitations.

(Alternatively you could take a card you have received, cross out your name and write the birthday boy/girl's - however, this is not recommended if you wish to be invited to next year's party).

4) Decorations
Traditional party balloons have attracted bad press in recent times for their environmental impact. Although latex balloons are biodegradable and 100% compostable, some environmental groups have raised concerns about the risk of animals choking on balloon fragments. To avoid this, once the balloon bursts pop it straight into the compost. The alternative to balloons are paper lanterns.

Simple natural decorations can include flowers, rose petals or autumn leaves.

Take a trip to your local beach and pick some shells to use as table decorations. Maybe try some pebbles, attractive stones or crystals to use as a centerpiece or as items in your own party bag. Some flowers from yours or the local market can also be used as centerpieces, but you can also stick them in the children's hair or make necklaces out of them too to brighten up party.

You can use tea lights floating in water or even origami. Paper cranes would look beautiful on the table and then there are other designs too like hats, boats and planes made from paper.

Colourful felt party hats and crowns also look great and can be used year after year. Felt or organic cotton banners and bunting bring a touch of class to the party and are made with nature in mind. They can be reused over and over again. Keep an eye on our website for our range of felt hats, crowns, banners and buntings.

5) Party Bags
No child’s party is complete without a party bag for the guests to enjoy for their trip home. Too often though these are plastic bags filled with plastic toys and lollies - but it doesn’t have to be!

You can create loot bags from felt material or maybe just use a basic brown paper bag with your child’s drawings or paintings on them. You could even turn your child’s paintings from school into paper wrapping for their take home gifts.

For what to include inside the bags try and avoid the lollies if you can and go for something wholesome which is still a treat – organic chocolate, chocolate covered nuts, dried fruit and fruit chips. Instead of plastic toys include small crystals, shells or pebbles. Wooden toys without the packaging or best of all small biodegradable pots with a seed they've plante. Kids treasure gifts from the earth, and often treat them as treasure!

Keep an eye out for our Party Bags, filled with organic and nature-based gifts, coming soon.

6) Getting to the Venue
Carpooling is a great way to improve your carbon footprint – but with children in the car – it isn’t always easy. Other alternatives include riding a bike and catching a bus, train or tram.

7) Birthday Candles
Most birthday candles contain harmful chemicals, which are not healthy if they drip onto your child’s cake. Try the beeswax alternative – 100% healthy and tasty if they drip and they also smell great. Beeswax is natural and renewable. It actually improves air quality as it removes pollutants and allergens from the air when lit. Candles made from paraffin pollute the air with black soot.

Every Children’s Eco Birthday Party Box comes with a set of 5 handmade 100% beeswax candles. You can also purchase them separately and in packs of 5 and 12.

8) Party Games
Most party games are eco, that is they don’t need any material just a healthy imagination and some forward planning.

Statues, Simon Says, Musical Chairs, Hide and Seek, charades, sack races (use pillowcases if you can't find traditional hessian sacks), scavenger hunts through the garden with nature-related clues and prizes.

Another great idea is having children decorate their own clay pots so they can return home with a seedling to plant in their creation.

If you do play Pass the Parcel use newspaper to wrap the present.

If using a pinata make your own! From paper machete over a latex balloon.

9) Presents
Is there a way to avoid your child being given excessively packaged, battery-powered or short-lived plastic toys?

One good way to avoid it is by asking friends and family to give a pre-loved toy or book that is in good condition, rather than buying something new. That way toys that other kids have grown out of will be given a new lease on life.

Otherwise why not try and make a present yourself. Believe it or not many homemade toys have a much greater appreciation factor than the latest plastic Barbie or GIJoe. Try making a doll, or hammer some wood together to make a truck… it doesn’t have to be time consuming, it may just require a little research.

However, if you are seriously creatively challenged and you don’t want to pass on a pre-loved toy then opt for a wood toy first, followed by an eco toy … remember “kids don’t really need toys, toy shops need kids!”

(Research shows children under the age of 10 will often marvel at their plastic toy but come back to the wooden toy as it is closer to nature and they relate to it better as nature is their true origin).

Another great idea is to ask your friends and family to donate to a charity or cause your child is passionate about.

10) Wrapping Paper
You may feel a bit funny about wrapping a toy in newspaper. You may also refuse to put the toy in an eco or brown bag. See our range range of colourful wrapping paper from Earth Greetings, printed on 100% recycled material, with vegetable ink and 100% carbon offset.

11) Food and cake
Continue the eco theme with the food you serve. Where possible, buy fresh, local, organic food to provide at least a few healthy options for guests. Smoothies and fruit skewers are always popular. With some creative presentation, you can also create some very appealing edible "creatures". There are lots of gorgeous kid-friendly recipes online incorporating fresh fruit and vegetables.

See this site for some news on Additive Free Kid's Parties. (www.additivefreekids.com.au)

12) Disposable Bag
When packing up your party use an eco disposable bag - believe it or not you can get disposable bags made from cornstarch and they are 100% compostable. So everything from the party can go to grow your garden – knowing your child’s fun helped grow the vegies on your table is even more worthwhile. Every Eco Party Box comes with at least one eco disposable bag!

Hopefully this list gives you some helpful ideas on how to make your child’s next party eco friendly. Choosing the green alternative over cheap, chemical based party products will make you feel good, knowing you have chosen ethically instead of the all-too easy option. For more eco party ideas visit www.ecopartybox.com.au

Love Tina x