How To Throw a Sustainable Birthday Party for Kids

reusable party decorations hanging up at an outdoor party
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Birthday parties, what comes to mind when I say that? Balloons, lots of packaging, piles of wrapping paper, glitter, plastic filled party bags maybe? Yep, me too. So how do we get around this when we are all trying to be a little more eco-conscious? Here’s a few ideas for throwing a sustainable birthday party for kids without being a party pooper…

Eco-Friendly Invites

Let’s start right at the beginning of planning; the invites. There are a few simple things you can do here to make this a little more sustainable:

  • Digital Invitations: Why not use online platforms such as Evite or Paperless Post to send stylish, eco-friendly digital invites rather than physical ones? It is also an easier way of getting a fast RSVP too.
  • DIY Recycled Paper Invites: If you or your guests do prefer physical invitations you could create your own using recycled paper and eco-friendly inks. You could even get the kids involved in decorating them for a personal touch!
  • Seed Paper Invites: Recycled paper is great but adding seeds to it makes it even better! This way the invite can go on and have a whole new lease of life.
  • Sustainably Made/Sourced Invites: Not everybody is crafty so if making your own isn’t up your street or you simply don’t have the time, shop around for a small business who is doing their bit for the environment by making sustainable invites that can be recycled or composted.

Sustainable Decorations

For some strange reason decorations have become a single-use purchase but birthdays come every year so why not opt for reusable or biodegradable instead? This will save waste, always make your party look great AND it will save you money… Oh and time – no more last minute party dec shopping. Here are a few ideas to consider:

  • Natural Decor: Use items from nature such as flowers, leaves and pinecones to decorate your party area and table. Think rustic, dreamy and interesting. This would work brilliantly for woodland, fairy, garden and Alice in Wonderland themed parties.
  • Reusable Decorations, Banners and Streamers: There are some beautiful reusable decorations available both online and in stores (even supermarkets sell them). They often come in a variety of colours and if you get the right combination these could come out for any celebration.
  • DIY Decorations: If you enjoy arts and crafts, why not take a look on Pinterest for some inspiration and make your own decorations from materials you already have around the house? For example, use old jars as candle holders, make bunting out of fabric scraps or create garlands from upcycled paper.

Eco-Friendly Tableware

It can be so easy to want to go disposable and not have the washing up at the end of your kid’s party but with so many people doing this all year round, that waste is just piling up and up. Let’s not add to it and try some of these options instead:

  • Reusable Plates and Cutlery: Use your own plates and cutlery from your kitchen even if your party is elsewhere, just pack them up and take them with you. You could also opt to invest in some sustainable bamboo partyware that again could be used time and time again.
  • Cloth Napkins: Use cloth napkins instead of paper ones. They will add a touch of elegance and can be washed and reused.
  • Mason Jars for Drinks: Serve beverages in mason jars or other reusable containers. These always look fab at parties.

Eco-Friendly Activities

Games are a must at birthday parties but they definitely don’t have to involve unnecessary waste and single-use plastic. Plan fun, sustainable activities such as:

  • Nature Scavenger Hunt: Organise a scavenger hunt that will encourage the kids to explore nature and find specific items like leaves, rocks and flowers.
  • DIY Craft Stations: Set up stations where your guests can make their own crafts using recycled materials. Ideas could include making bird feeders from toilet paper rolls or decorating reusable tote bags.
  • Outdoor Games: Set up fun games like sack races, hoola hoops, tug-of-war and hopscotch.
  • Classic Party Games: Musical statues, musical chairs, chase, pin the tail on the donkey and pass the parcel using brown/recycled paper (no plastic wrapped sweets in between the sheets, with an eco-friendly gift at the end) are all free/cheap to put on and loads of plastic free fun.

Sustainable Snacks and Cake

Serve up eco-friendly treats that kids will love:

  • Local and Organic Food: Try sourcing snacks from local farmers’ markets and opt for organic produce.
  • Homemade Treats: Bake cookies, cupcakes and other treats at home to avoid packaging waste. Reusable cupcake holders are also something to consider.
  • Zero-Waste Cake: Bake your own cake or order from a local bakery that uses sustainable practices.

Waste Management

If there is any waste from the party, to keep it as sustainable as you can ensure that everything is properly disposed of in the correct bins.

  • Clearly Marked Bins: Set up clearly marked recycling bins to make waste management easy for guests and yourself at the end of the party.
  • Leftover Food: Encourage guests to take home leftovers in reusable containers. You could also compost any raw food waste such as salad leaves, fruit peelings/cores and coffee granules (for the adults of course!)

Sustainable Party Bags

As a parent, I can honestly say that a plastic bag full of plastic tat that will easily break is my bug bear at the end of a birthday party. I would be quite happy just with a slice of cake but if you feel you need to do a little bit more you could also try these ideas:

  • Paper or Reusable Bags: Opt for paper party bags that can be easily recycled (or reused/repurposed) or reusable party bags over plastic ones.
  • Plantable Items: Give out seed packets, seed paper or small potted plants for the children to grow and enjoy in their garden or on their windowsill.
  • DIY Crafts: Pop the crafts that the children have made in their party bags to take home as a keepsake.
  • Reusable Items: Consider reusable items for your party bags such as fun reusable straws, sustainably made pen sets or fabric tote bags. I have plenty of other plastic free party bag ideas here.

Hosting a sustainable birthday party is doable, it just takes a little change up and a new way of thinking. By incorporating some or all of these ideas, you should be able to create a fun, eco-friendly event that everyone will enjoy.

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