DIY: Rainbows & Reusable Birthday Ideas |

DIY: Rainbows & Reusable Birthday Ideas

elizabeth b. April 7, 2012

In less than a month, my youngest daughter turns one. While my mind is spinning with the thought of my baby leaving babyhood, I am slowing charging into full party planning mode. As with every party or holiday, there will be gifts for the birthday girl. Frankly, I’m terrified of more plastic junk entering our house. The solution? A celebration full of DIY birthday ideas! We are trying to move towards having less (which in itself is a chore with two under 3), natural and green living, and using up before getting new.

This concept paired with Miss Roo’s love of color has driven the direction of the birthday theme — Rainbows! How simple and natural is a rainbow?  She will play with anything wooden or airy for hours at a time which has been an immense help in trying to plan a party for a wee girl that won’t cost a ton and will help us be earth friendly.

We are planning to celebrate Miss Roo’s party at a local park. It is our hope that our location will encourage outdoor play in all our guests, provide a connection to nature that a lot of us simply are not enjoying, and will support our locality rather than some big business and all their waste.

While I will be purchasing invitations due to my severely lacking Graphic Design skills, there are plenty of things that we can make at home to make the day color and bright.  So here are some DIY idea for decorations, gifts, and the favors to create a great party while reducing, reusing, and buying less!

Party Idea: DIY Banner

Image by Handjobs for the Home

We have TONS of scrapbook paper laying around from all those grand ideas that I had before I had two children. Now this paper is being up cycled into a birthday banner.

Start by cutting out triangles from your scrapbook paper.  The size of your sheet will determine how many triangles you will get from each sheet.

Making a cardboard template will assist you in uniformity. I grabbed a wooden template at a local hobby store and found it to be a huge help to me and to little hands helping me out from time to time. The template will also be more durable for reusing during the many birthdays to come.

Once you have cut out all the triangles you wish to use – 11 total for our banner –  you need to begin wielding your glue gun!  Using a tiny bit of glue, attach your yarn or twine to the back of each triangle. This step will not only secure the banner together but will dry quick for the decorating to begin.

Your banner can be embellished with letters and names, stickers for themes, glitter for flair — the sky is the limit! My older daughter was very excited about having a hand in making party goodies and this activity was wonderful way to involve her in the whole process.

If you don’t have a glue gun handy, you can simply punch a hole in each of the top two corners of each triangle and simply tie the string. My favorite part of a homemade banner are the possibilities available with such a small amount of materials.

Gift Idea: Hand Kites

Image by applenamos

Although I have a million thing on my list to make before the big day, some of the most fun are these little Waldorf inspired hand kites. I spotted these on Etsy and fell in love. The simplicity of design and material make it a great idea for little hands and best suited for play with adult supervision.

I was able to find some wooden rings at a local craft store. We have an embarrassing amount of ribbon left over from holidays, birthdays, and previous crafts. I used leftover sandpaper to sand the rings down a bit more to ensure a smooth finish. I had some jojoba oil in the girls’ body care stash and found some beeswax at a local farmers market. I plan to make several wooden items for the Birthday Girl, so purchasing the beeswax was a justifiable cost.

Wood Wax:

  • 1/4 cup beeswax,grated
  • 1 cup oil (we used jojoba because we had it and we like the smell)
  • 1 glass measuring cup
  • 1 wide mouth storage container
  • 1 whisk

To make your wood polish, you will need 1 part wax to 4 parts oil. I grated 1/4 cup wax into a cup of oil in a glass container. Using a double boiler or microwave, melt your wax. Whisk during this process. This step make take a bit of time but be sure your wax is completely melted. Once your have your melted solution, pour it into a storage container in which you will be able to easily stir your polish.  Stir for a few minutes to thoroughly mix your wax and create a creamy, uniform result.

When applying to the wood, dab on a small amount of wax, smooth in with your fingers, and wipe off the excess with a clean towel. Your ring is done! Now take your favorite ribbons, loop them around your ring and knot! What a simple and fun toy! (We may make extras as favors, too!)

Favor Idea : Bubbles

Who doesn’t love bubbles? Both my girls could spend hours chasing them in the breeze. When considering what would be a fun and inexpensive favor for those attending our Birthday Bash, I immediately thought of bubbles.  I also thought that making my own would be easy and less expensive that buying little plastic containers at a super store.

To make bubbles, you will need dish soap, water, and glycerin. I have read in my research that traditional dish soaps work best. I am very excited to use this project as a way of ridding our house of the Joy buried under our kitchen sink.

Image by Jeff Kubina

Homemade Bubbles:

  • 1 Tablespoon Joy dish washing liquid
  • 1 Cup Water
  • 1 Teaspoon Glycerin

Combine all ingredients gently. Stirring with too much enthusiasm will make your solution frothy and you want to save all the good stuff for bubble power. Dip in your wands and enjoy!  Our bubbles made this way were stupendous and the Joy will go a long way this way! Now our only question is how to gift this to children in non-breakable containers that are as green as possible.

So there you have it! A few ideas for a DIY greener birthday!

Do you DIY for birthdays or holidays? Do you love the homemade craftiness of a child driven party or do you prefer your own creative angle on themes?


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  1. Great ideas Malissa! My daughters 1st birthday party is coming up too in just s little over a month. I’m curious what jars you plan to use. We will probably do bubbles, just in big bowls for the kids to play with.


    • I ended up getting a small set of plastic ( 🙁 ) Ball canning “jars”. I was too apprehensive to send little hands home with the glass ones. I think I make find a good summer recipe for a sauce or fruit treat and attach it to the bubbles to give an idea for how to reuse the “jar” rather than tossing it.


  2. Thanks! I am STILL trying to figure out how to send the bubbles home without some shatter hazard. I’ll keep you posted!


  3. Hi! I love the hand kites. I was wondering if you used wooden curtain rings? That’s all I can seem to find and they all have little hooks attached.


  4. Do you know what kind of knot you used for the hand kites? Or could you explain it? I want a loop through type knot (fold ribbon in half, slide ends though loop around ring) so more ribbon color ends up on the ring, but if you just do a loop-through then it will un-loop as soon as the kids start playing. I’ve spent a ridiculous amount of time staring at your knots (and hand kite knots) on Etsy to try and figure out what you did. I apparently missed knot tying day at boy scouts.

    If you have a moment, please email or post a description of your knotting method! Thank you! Thank you!

    (I independently found and purchased my wooden rings as the same vendor as you. After trying every craft store in a 10 mile radius …. I swear I’ve bought them at a craft store before!)


    • I honestly never figured out that knot 🙁 I even asked my husband and we just couldn’t get it. I ended up hot gluing the ribbon to the wood to get it to stay. I’d loop the ends through the bent ribbon and tighten, then glue, and knot over the glue- if that makes sense. I may email a local toy maker that I buy from all time and ask her how to do that knot because the girls love using the hand kits and want them changed seasonally it seems. I’ll keep you posted if I learn more!


  5. Awesome!! My lo busted turned 1, and we had a Rainbow party! Albeit, not quite so green, but fun nonetheless! I did make her a reusable “tissue box.”. We cut a hole in a Tupperware, then cut 7 pieces of fabric (each color of the rainbow) and served the edges! I fold them in like tissues, and she thoroughly enjoys pulling them all out. Bonus: they will work as “play silks” for capes and forts and more as she grows! Have fun on the big day 🙂


  6. Dang autocorrect. Lol.
    Also, our baby is Ru!


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Hi, I’m Kate.  I love medical freedom, sharing natural remedies, developing real food recipes, and gentle parenting. My goal is to teach you how to live your life free from Big Pharma, Big Food, and Big Government by learning about herbs, cooking, and sustainable practices.

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