Simple Gifts: Birthday Favors


In searching for a fun party activity for Stella’s birthday, I came across lots of cool plastic goodies, and realized that plastic is something I would like to talk about first.

Plastic is an important part of my life, that is, my commitment to avoid it. At work, we have converted all of our packaging to be plastic-free. That sounds easy, but it wasn’t. It took a few years, lots of searching for alternative solutions, and not a small amount of convincing our staff and customers, but now we use only paper bags, paper boxes, and paper tape – yes, you remember, the kind you have to wet to activate the glue. At home, we do not buy plastic. Instead of plastic wrap, I use mason jars for food storage, and when refrigerating foods in large bowls, I cover them with plates.

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Why do I care so much? First, because it never really goes away. The plastic that lines the coffee cup you used this morning, and the plastic that wrapped your croissant, will still be here on earth in ten thousand years. Maybe longer. Second, because people don’t really know how much of the chemicals in the plastic absorbs into your body when using it, eating from it, storing food in it, working with it. But in addition to that. There’s a more positive reason. Somehow, plastic seems, well, fake. I love the feel and look of wood and paper and metal and cotton and leather. There is something authentic about it, a depth of dimension that makes things seem more real when they are made of these organic elements. So I love to make real things, with real materials. That’s what you will see on this blog, as much as we can. Even our plastic bags are real cellophane – which is 100% biodegradable and which turns into compost in months.

But it’s pretty difficult to function in our world without plastic, and sometimes you have to make a compromise. For example, I love the Dollar Store. There is always something there for you when you are having a party. Even for a wedding, it seems there is always something classy and cool if you look carefully. The only challenge is that, if you ever look around, almost everything in the Dollar Store is plastic. Forks, hair scrunchies, plates, toy trucks, baskets, cups,  bags, Christmas decorations…. But the “almost” means you can still find some real things. Baskets made of wicker, paperboard boxes, toys of tin, little ceramic statues, and sometimes you can find things that are not even wrapped in plastic.

So, for Stella’s birthday, I chose these brightly colored little noisemakers which are made of paper (and some plastic too). I had to choose carefully; most of the noisemakers were all plastic. I ordered Vida style tags, shape 07 in bright pink, and uploaded Stella’s photo. I punched an additional hole at the bottom of the tags with a small hole punch, and tied them onto the noisemakers with the white string that comes with the tags. If you don’t have a small hole punch, use a large needle, and twist the needle to enlarge the hole. The final results are darling, and so thoroughly Stella! Serve with pink cake, pink poms, and pink confetti (made of paper, of course). Just blow on them little noisemakers, throw confetti, eat cake. It’s a special day!

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Jeanne Williamson (138 Posts)

Jeanne and her husband David launched My Own Labels in January of 2000. It was a spin-off of their successful graphic design firm, plus it allowed Jeanne to incorporate her love of baking, making, sewing and creating. Today David and Jeanne continue to be the heart of the operation both creatively and practically.


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