Thursday, April 5, 2012

Rendezvous with Recycling: Trash to Treasure Party

With Earth Day and Spring cleaning as my motivation, I decided this month's monthly dinner theme would be A Rendezvous with Recycling: Trash to Treasure party!  I decorated with all recycled materials so it was a very inexpensive party, and because we did a trash to treasure exchange, I got rid of some items I don't use anymore and picked up some "new" fun things.

Invite:  Use the backs of old birthday/holiday cards or old postcards to give out your party details. Or simply send your invitation by Evite to save on postage, paper, etc.

Decor: I created a banner using newspaper and letters cut out from my Cricut machine (sorry, no photo of this).  I set the table with a blue cloth tablecloth and green cloth napkins to tie in the Earth tones and to keep with the earth-friendly idea of no paper products.  I cut the top out of a 12-pack of canned Pepsi to use as a flowerpot, and cut flowers out of cereal boxes, cookie boxes, etc.  I used the caps of milk jugs as the center of each flower. (You'll see how I used the rest of the milk carton later in the post.)  This was my centerpiece which I placed on top of 2 squares of newspaper.  I also used two empty Coca Cola cans as candle holders and placed a tea-light on the top.

At each place setting, I used a piece of newspaper as the placemat, and recycled cups from various hotels, etc. as glasses.  I made a silverware holder out of paint swatches I had from trying to decide what color to paint my son's bedroom.  Just stapled two together and placed the silverware inside.

On a side table, I used empty beer bottles filled with water as vases for roses cut from my front yard. I also had the handmade gift bags and the cupcakes out on this table.  To elevate the cupcakes, I recycled a cereal box placed on an open magazine.

Menu: After getting the invite, many of my friends joked that we must be having leftovers at this monthly dinner. I decided to play that up a bit, but still stick with my menu with was centered around being "green".

I started with a green salad with green papers and broccoli along with some other goodies.  I served these in empty milk jugs that I cut and fashioned into little boxes.  A simple Velcro tab held the lid down until guests were ready to eat.  Here are the directions:

Step 1:  Mark a one-gallon milk jug as shown.
Step 2:  Cut along the lines.  You can then make the crease lines by using a thumbtack to pierce a row of dots at 1/4-inch intervals across each side of the jug, 1 3/4 inches up from the bottom. I did this with one of mine, but found I didn't need to spend the time, so my remaining jugs were just folded on their own.
Step 3:  Fold the flaps down and adhere with an adhesive-backed Velcro dot closure.
These don't hold too much, but they were perfect for the salad. You can also use them as a children's lunch box, but I was not able to serve my whole meal in them.

I served the main course in leftover containers I bought at a local Chinese food store.  These were perfect because they were already sectioned into three (and they made less dishes for me to wash after the party!).  I wanted to serve "green" food, so I made a chicken with a pesto gravy, white rice with peas, and green beans.

For dessert, I made trashcan cupcakes to go with our Trash to Treasure theme. My nephew had these at his last birthday party, so I totally stole the idea.  I baked cupcakes with silver liners which I frosted with grey icing and dipped in crushed oreos and sprinkles so it looked like "trash".  The trashcan lid is a cookie frosted with grey icing. To fully cover all parts of the cookie, I used edible spray paint.  This is SUPER expensive, but enables you to get the bottom and sides of the cookie. I then used a tip to pipe the black lines on the top of the cookie to complete the look.

Activity:  The girls loved the activity from our Rags to Riches party over a year ago, and they wanted to do it again.  It seems to go well with this theme.  I asked the girls to go through their closets, clean out those drawers, and bring 3-5 (or more if they wanted) items to recycle amongst friends.  We drew numbers and went "shopping".  Our trash became one girl's treasure!  Anything not taken at the end, I took to Goodwill.

Favors: I made each guest a newspaper necklace out of magazine pages. All you need is two colorful pages from a magazine (ads work best), hot glue gun, eye pins, and jump rings to make these.  They do take a little time, but they are very easy to make.  I found a bag of jump rings and eye pins at Michaels for $1.99 and it had a bunch of them in it.  

I gave these necklaces to the guests in gift bags I made out of newspaper to keep with the recycling theme.  These are very easy to make.  I followed the directions from How About Orange, but you can make your bag with whatever dimensions fit the gift inside. 

Sorry for the long post, but this was a very fun party and it was nice to find creative ways to use materials rather than spending a ton of money purchasing decorations. I think we all need to do a little bit more conservation of materials.  Finding ways tor reduce, reuse, and recycle was fun, and there are plenty more ideas out there.  Hope one of you can "recycle" this idea for your next gathering!!


Stephanie said...

You have the best party ideas I've ever seen! Thank you so much for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Love the milk jug for the salad and the flowers in your centerpiece. Thanks for the ideas.

katherine marie said...

love love love!!!!!! this would be so perfect for any EARTH DAY celebration-- big or small!!!!