With four children, it seemed every time I turned around, I was planning another birthday party or taking my children to one. By the time I started the birthday party circuit for my last one, I was worn out. Countless invitations sent; endless returns of birthday gifts, and thank you notes that I had to argue with my children to write. Don’t even go there with the amount of plastic toys and packaging I either disposed of or bought.
I could never escape the invitations, but I did escape the presents by either telling all the parents to bring books, which my children hated or donate to one big gift. Some parents were uncomfortable giving money, or forgot and would bring a gift that I would have to return. So, in essence I accomplished nothing and hoped for the day that my children would no longer have group birthday parties.
My Calgon relief? A new online eco-friendly birthday party website named ECHOage . It is a website for US and Canadian residents, which teaches children about giving to those less fortunate. How does it work? Each guest contributes a gift amount. ECHOage collects all of the gifts and deducts a 15% administrative fee. The balance is split in half. One half of the proceeds is contributed to a charity of your child’s choice and the other half is returned to you to purchase one meaningful gift.
As an added environmental bonus, it offers adorable online invitations, RSVP tracking, and online thank-you notes. Reduce your party’s carbon footprint with no more shopping, no more returns, less plastic and no more trees cut down to create invitations and thank-you notes.
Why ECHOage? Co-founders, Debbie Zinman and Alison Smith, as moms, felt my pain. (They told me so. Well, not really, but I knew they felt it.) They believed that there had to be a better way and created the “one gift, one cause solution” to teach our children about giving and getting off the parties, plastic, and presents treadmill.
How do you begin? Simple. Choose one of the 12 colorful online invitations. Online invitations are wonderful for the Earth since no trees are cut down to create them. What happens if someone prints the invitation because they are afraid they won’t remember the date? Doesn’t this negate your tree-free theory?
These moms thought of everything. You can simply type in your email address in the find a party section, and the website will send you a link to the invitation. Now, if you do print it, the eco police will not come knocking at your door. Simply, recycle the invitation.
After you choose the invitation, now choose a cause that resonates with your child. (Above is one of the listed charities.) The charity name will appear on the invitation. Talk to your child about which charity he or she feels that they would like to donate to. I love this component of the website because many of us are very fortunate and others are not. Giving to help others whether it is time or money should be taught at a young age where it becomes a natural gesture as they grow up.
A charitable tax receipt will be sent to you evidencing the donations. Currently, only four charities are listed for US and Canadian residents. These charities were chosen by the founders since they directly contribute to improving the lives of children as well as having a proven track record of implementing their goals.
Additional charities will be added that meet the above criteria. However, Debbie explains, “[i]f our list of charities was long, children would get overwhelmed when choosing. Also, we want the choice to come from the child hosting the party and not from the parent who would undoubtedly have a favorite charity in mind.”
Now, you are all set. Collect everyone’s emails and send out the invitations. You send them out one by one or as a group. In addition, you can print the invitation for people who do not have computers such as elderly relatives.
One of my favorite components of RSVP is that you can tell your host about your child’s allergies such as if he or she has food allergies, uses an oral inhaler, or carries an EPiPen. In addition, you can provide your cell phone number in the RSVP in case the host needs to contact you during the party.
The Payment page offers your guests the choice of a gift amount from $10 to $40, and is paid through a secure ECHOage online payment center.
The tracking systems tracks your guests RSVPs and reminds them a week before the party to respond. After you receive all of your RSVPs, you can close your party and you will be sent the balance of the money for your one meaningful gift. In any event, ECHOage will close your account two weeks after your party, and send you the balance.
Before the party, print out your child’s award, and put it on the front door, which lets your child’s guests know that your child is a hero because he or she gave back to the world for another child.
After the party is over, it is time for your child to write the thank you notes. No problem. ECHOage has it covered with their online thank-you notes.
Love the idea but your date is too far away? Consider saving the date with ECHOage, and the system will remind you six weeks in advance to tell you to get on the stick and ECHOage your party.
Co-founders Zinman and Smith’s concept had me at hello. No further selling for me. I had only one concern. The administrative fee seemed a little to high. However, the founders explained that this cost is to cover web development, web hosting, secure online administration, and general administration of the site. I totally forgot about those costs.
Still not convinced and have other concerns or question. Check out the FIVE page FAQ section where every imaginable question thought of has been answered. These moms have it covered coming and going.
So, what are you waiting for? ECHOage your party! Your child will be contributing to a better place.