Trash Talkin’ Our Way through a Birthday

So my son fell in love with a toy garbage truck at the store over two months before his birthday. When he asked to bring it home, I quipped about how he had a birthday coming up and unknowingly sealed my fate—a garbage truck party. Rubbish! I angled for a heavy machinery theme. Rejected. So I took a deep breath and dug in. Way in. Knee deep in garbage and recycling!

I looked all over the Internet for ideas, and most of what I found was dozens of other moms asking for help throwing a garbage/garbage man/garbage truck party. Awesome. Where to begin?

I started thinking about all the things you would normally find at a party and attempted to trash them up. We set the tone for trash with these invitations I created. Check them out at I used paper grocery bags to make the envelopes and mailed them with coordinating return address labels that hinted at our theme.

Garbage Party Invitation

I decided that we could turn our trash into decorations for the party.
I made flowers out of drink boxes and food boxes and used yogurt cups for the centers.

Recycled Flowers

Our house is hard to spot until you’re right on top of it so I rolled our garbage can up to
the street and tied some balloons to it. We supplemented our planters with recycled flowers.

Recycled Planters

Pennant banners made from old drink pouches and scrapbook paper in our colors—
blue, green and orange—hung above the main table.

Garbage Party Banners

It was decorated with layers of vinyl tablecloths used to help create a cheerful garbage route.

Garbage Route Tablecloth

Pages from old magazines trashed our party hats.

Garbage Party Hats

The iPod bellowed songs like Oscar The Grouch’s “I Love Trash,” “The Trash Can Band,”
Jack Johnson’s “The 3 R’s,” and “Stuck on Trash” by Recycleman & The Waste Band.

My son is always really interested when we see workers picking up trash on the side of the road. I found some inexpensive robot pincher claws online and added a sticker to make them Garbage Grabbers, and our garbage pick-up game was born. We told the kids that litterbugs had scattered trash all over our yard and asked for their help to make it all clean again. Some of them really got into it!

Garbage Grabbers

Garbage Game

There was some spontaneous can-stomping fun too. What boy doesn’t like to do that?
I also made garbage truck coloring sheets for those not into picking up trash.

The summer camp at my son’s preschool gave me the idea to make bottle cap necklaces.

Bottle Caps

At the party, the kids got choose their necklace colors, look for the charms with their names and choose from other designs like ballet-themed, football teams and super heroes. We had some garbage and recycling charms too like the 3 R’s and a frog from one of my stationery designs that said “It’s not easy bein’ green.”

I created the designs, punched them with a one-inch circle punch and glued them into bottle caps I ordered from a home brewing supply place. I used jewelry glaze to give them their 3D effect without the smell or mess of resin.

We also used the bottle caps on the candles, for cupcake toppers, on the main table and as decorations on the seedling trees we sent home with the kids. They got a small reusable shopping bag to carry home all of their loot.

Seedling Trees

Small, galvanized trash cans held some of the party food and flowers.

Garbage Pail Roses

Now for the junk food! We had Junkyard Dogs aka Pigs in a Blanket, Funky Chicken Salad, a Stinky Cheese Ball, Hubcaps with Cheese and Old Tires with Jelly—both Uncrustables sandwiches and the birthday boy’s favorite—Mini Mud (Meat) Pies and Fruit Fly Skewers.

Junk Food

Water bottle labels got people thinking about the potential after recycling.

Water Bottle Labels

The cake was a little garbage truck I attempted. Not my best work
(there were circumstances people), but the four-year-old thought it was the coolest!

Garbage Truck Cake

And here are our bottle cap cupcake toppers!

Bottle Cap Cupcake Toppers

I made the birthday boy a t-shirt for the big day using the garbage truck art from our invitation.
I used a dark t-shirt transfer with great results! It’s true. He’s quite the Trash Talker!

Trash Talker Tee

The other kiddos got garbage truck stickers that I printed for the end of the party.
It’s hard to pass up a good sticker.

Trashed Stickers

Out-of-town family and friends shipped us Reese’s birthday presents so in keeping with our theme, we recycled newspaper and magazines into wrapping paper and bows. And, let me tell you when you can get away with it, a trash bag made the perfect gift bag for an oversized toy!

Gift Wrapping

We thanked our guests with these garbage truck folding note cards.

Garbage Truck Thank Yous

And since we clearly hadn’t trash talked enough, later that week we made dirt cups to celebrate with his classroom friends.

Dirt Cups

Whew! Happy 4th Birthday to my little Garbage Man!

Source List

Bottle caps: online from a home brewing supply store

Choker Necklaces: Etsy

Garbage Grabbers: eBay

Galvanized Garbage Cans:

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