Wedding Wednesday- Eco-Friendly Wedding Favors

by - Wednesday, May 04, 2016

from Recycled Ideas
Wedding favors are kind of the best. Everyone at the wedding gets a little present just for showing up, and often it is something to eat. There is a lot of sweetness in them, because it's a way that the couple can show gratitude to their guests for coming to celebrate with them. This is important, because the couple probably won't get to spend the time they thought they would with every guest. So it really is a lovely little thing, and it annoys me when wedding advice suggests skipping them all together (or trading them in for a donation- booo).

On the other hand, wedding favors are often the worst.

Guests don't often remember them or eat them immediately. We ate this cupcake before we left the reception. On the other hand, we do remember that we once got a cookie with the bride and groom's faces on them. We still have that cookie, after five years, and they look like zombies. We have all received favors we will never use.  They so often come in clear plastic boxes. Lots of clear plastic with ribbons and tags. I get it, to a certain extent, you want it to look fancy, and that is all in the framing. But can you gift favors that don't create a bunch of plastic waste? Or maybe even do some good while still being a gift, not a grandstand? I think so.

So what do you want from your favors? My thoughts.
1. Low cost but high meaning. You aren't buying fine jewelry for every guest.
2. Useful and not wasteful. You want the guests to actually want your favor.
3. Captures the spirit of your wedding. Memorable in a Good Way.

To me, the answer screaming out here is to make something yourself, because you can get a lot more for your money. The favors have a lot of feeling and effort behind them, but you can save the money for another aspect of your wedding. And if you avoid really wasteful instagarbage packaging, this can be an eco-friendly option as well! That being said, not everyone has time to make 75 candles or jar their own jelly or paint 100 ornaments. So I will try to list off some simple purchase options as well.

from Lynnburg Lane
1. Soap- This might be a more common gift for showers (ha! joke), but I think this might actually be nice for a wedding. Perfectly useful, and it might be a fun treat for your out of towners (better than lame hotel soap). I have never seen this at a wedding, but I like the pretty, subtle colors, and I think it might make a good universal gift.

You can find lots of very girly rosy ones or super-themed ones (Star Wars, Winnie the Pooh, etc), but I found some simple ones to get you started (consider buying one tester from them so you can find one that you like before diving in)- Lynnburg Lane from Wisconsin, Home Brewed Soaps (they have beer soaps- might be perfect) and Fat Belly Farm from Maine, Nabbies Handmade from Pennsylvania, and Tighty Whitey Soap Co from Virginia.

from Wiley Valentine
2. Temporary Tattoos- I think this could be really fun. We gave little bracelets as part of our wedding favors, because I like anything that people can wear in the moment. I think an effective party pulls the guests in as participants (and sometimes they can add to the decoration in mass), and I especially love collective permission to be silly. You can wear any silly thing on Halloweeen, because everyone is wearing something goofy too. I feel like the same premise can work on your wedding with things like bracelets, personalized sunglasses, or these temporary tattoos.

You could get a big grab bag like this one from in the year 1967 in your colors or something more specific to your wedding. I also like these simple heart ones. I saw ones with your face on them. That might be too weird for me, but I really think this idea has juice beyond the bachelorette party nonsense.
from Sweet Home Darlings
3. Cookies, Candies, or Cupcakes in Recycled Containers- Pennsylvanians love a good cookie table, but too often the deliciousness comes in one of those plastic boxes or bags. Boo! Plastic is no good. Instead, I bet you can track down some very affordable boxes (I like these pillow boxes) or bags (such as these jute ones) on Etsy or elsewhere. Sweets make a great favor, because your guests can enjoy it that night, and you know it will be put to use! It can really be any treat that means a lot to you as a couple. I even see lots of s'mores favors floating around, but always in awful clear plastic containers! You can do better.

I love the many different styles of cookie envelopes on Details on Demand (they have a completely custom option as well), Mavora, and Sweet Home Darlings (and a soft pretzel one?!? Please, someone invite me to the pretzel wedding). If Kraft paper doesn't look right with your decor, check out stores like Mind the Wrap, because it sells tons of options. Add a cloth ribbon, and you have something that still looks polished and pretty.

from Heavenly Handmades
4. Homemade Recipe Books- Ok, the Harry Potter book is a bit misleading, but you could make a small book with five to ten pages of recipes.

Print two to a page on recycled paper, get some cardstock for the cover, and bind it together with some ribbon!

Perfect if you are a foodie couple, and people might actually want to try out your recipes. You can put a sweet note on the front page, and leave the rest to recipes. I bet it would only take a few hours to put together.
from Life and the Little Details
5. Local Treats or Spices- Have a lot of people coming from out of town? Use the opportunity to introduce them to your hometown's hot sauce or maple syrup or ketchup. It might be cool to gift Old Bay for your Maryland wedding or other honey from your local beekeeper. Coffee from your favorite coffeehouse! Come from different regions? Pair the favorites from each place together so everyone is getting something new! The options are endless and you already know some of the things your neighborhood has to offer.

 It's great to do something like this as well, because hot sauce or syrup will actually be used, but more slowly than the sweets I will have eaten in the car on our way to the hotel. Show off what you love about where you live and give that money to someone giving your neighbors jobs. Have a family recipe hot sauce or spice rub? Do that! The more you put yourself into it, the better a favor it will be.

from Two Fresh Design
6. Candles- I know I love a good (parafin-free) candle, and you can buy some cute small ones from Bow and Arrow Candle Co, Paper Crabb, Two Fresh Design, or Lulu Sugar. This gift is a lot more expensive per favor than most (I am trying to stay between 1 and 2 dollars per favor; these add up to 3 to 5 dollars a candle), but I also think you could make them your own. My cousin gifted handmade candles one year for Christmas, and it was such a great gift. You could buy small jars in bulk, buy some tags, and make the candles yourself for less money with a fun afternoon of crafting.

7. Bookmarks- You could make these yourself if you have or can borrow a laminator, but perfect for a nerdy or bookish wedding. Buy a few used books, atlases, or comic books and cut them into long strips. You could stamp them at the bottom or add your names and the date, then simply laminate and cut. You could punch a hole and string a ribbon as well. You can buy them, but I would just use the Etsy options as inspiration. I also found some out of recycled circuit boards if you are that kind of nerd. I also found plain kraft bookmarks if you wanted even simpler decoration. Fun and quirky, and you can probably easily incorporate them in with your seating cards or to make another focal point.

Meow Kapow also sells recycled comic book magnets and bottle openers for favors if you want a different twist on the idea!  I think these have a fun look and aren't too fussy.

from San Pedro Cactus
8. Succulents- Giving out regular plants might be a gamble, but you have to work a lot harder to kill a succulent, so giving out small succulents might make for a pretty and low maintenance gift (you may be in a danger zone if your guests are mostly flying in). I love these little jarred ones, and they would really be all the green decoration you needed on a reception table, depending on what look you were going for too. Put one at every seat, and you already have a gorgeous table and a lovely gift for each guest. Air plants might be cool too if you have a bigger budget.

from Elux Magazine
9. Seeds- Now depending on how willing you are to let your tree-hugging flag fly (or what best fits your venue, you could give straightforward seed packs like these or plantable seed paper like these from Ka Bloomz or (in every color) from Recycled Ideas or Fancy That Loved. Doing a really green-themed wedding? These leaves from Recycled Ideas are gorgeous and get the point across. I think the seed paper is really pretty, and it might look nice in a more formal/ sophisticated setting in simple envelopes (I also think it would make super cool confetti for an exit, but I am not sure how you would work it).
from Recycled Ideas

from Megmichelle
I also wonder if you want to give seeds, if you could just get envelopes or small boxes like these ones from MegMichelle or these from Inside my Nest and put seeds in yourself. The envelopes are really lovely, and if you buy the seeds in bulk, you may save lots of money. Maybe not every guest will go home and plant the seeds, but how neat if some of them do? And talk about memorable- you could gift perennial tulips for your spring wedding, and then every year, they would have tulips. Too cool.

from Iron Maid Art
10. Christmas Ornaments- Even if you are getting married mid-July, an ornament might make a nice gift that actually gets some use from year to year. Plus, there are lots of options from DIY to Etsy buys that are pretty affordable! These Iron Maid Silhouette ornaments could be cool for a wedding at home or destination wedding, which you can buy in bulk for something like wedding favors. I think these antique keys might make really pretty Christmas ornaments once they are done bedecking your wedding. I think my favorite idea is to buy a collection of wood slices  and make an ornament yourself. Nothing too fussy, but this could be a great opportunity to make it yourself if you have the time!

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