7 Tips for Throwing an Eco-Friendly Birthday Party

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It’s possible to have an eco-friendly birthday party! Check out these tips to be a little easier on the earth without sacrificing fun!

7 tips for throwing an eco friendly birthday party feature

Want to celebrate a child’s birthday without mountains of wrapping paper, paper plates, and unwanted gifts at the end of the day? Throw an eco-friendly birthday party instead!

Children’s birthday parties can become frenzies of plastic toys and wrapping paper, but with a little planning and communication with guests, a child’s birthday party can be a relatively environmentally friendly affair. Here are a few ways to reduce waste and excess when planning a child’s birthday party.

Minimize Waste by Requesting Pre-Loved and Unwrapped Gifts

One of the best ways to keep a party green is to ask guests to choose gifts with the environment in mind. Choosing used toys instead of new ones, wooden instead of plastic, and reusable gift bags instead of wrapping paper all help to reduce waste at an eco-friendly birthday party. Other earth-friendly gift ideas include consumable items, such as food or drink, or “experience” gifts, such as a trip to the movies, a ride on a roller coaster, or a membership to the aquarium.

No Gifts Please

Also, consider having a “no gifts” party. This is the greenest option and is great for parents who live in small spaces and just don’t have room to store mountains of toys. This way lots of friends can come to enjoy the party without bringing a gift. This option might not be acceptable for children who will be expecting gifts, but it’s a great option for the very young child who won’t notice or a child that can comprehend why their generosity matters.

gifts wrapped with cloth

Avoid Disposable Plates, Cutlery and Decorations

Birthday parties often generate a big garbage bag of disposable paper plates, plastic cups, forks, spoons and decorations. An easy way to make a party more environmentally friendly is to use the plates, cups, and forks that are already in the cupboards. If there will be more guests than there are plates, ask a friend to bring a few extra or use compostable bamboo plates and cutlery.

Alternatively, invest in reusable party plates. I bought two sets of these lovely porcelain plates years ago and use them at all parties. For about $2 a plate – they were totally worth it.

Ask a friend or family member to be on “dish patrol.” This person can wash plates and forks between courses, so the host doesn’t have to worry about it. You can even hire a friend’s teenager to handle collecting and washing dirty dishes.

Create your own decorations with handmade banners, diy pinatas, painted canvas, Waldorf stars, etc. Involve your child in creating their own party decorations which they can then use in their bedrooms as art.

Serve Local, Seasonal Food and Drink

Environmentally friendly food choices are becoming increasingly available as grocers and farmer’s markets respond to consumer demand for local, seasonal, and organic foods.

The kids might not notice, but the adults who accompany them will appreciate seasonal fruits and vegetables, tasty organic wine or even their own Raclette platter. Not only will the birthday party host save the energy involved in shipping out-of-season fruit across the globe, but she’ll also support local farmers and businesses.

You can even make a Birthday Fruit Cake!

Choose Practical Party Favors

Instead of sending each child home with a bag full of plastic toys, try to choose a party favor that will last or develops the bonds between family and friends. Metal cookie cutters can be used with play dough and cookie dough for a baker theme party.

Superhero capes can be easily made by cutting out a simple fabric shape with scissors and decorating them with stick-on felt letters, and they can be used for creative dress-up play for little ones for years to come.

Baskets of nail polish and beauty masks for a teen birthday party will have everyone happy.

Choose an Active Venue

Look for somewhere other than in the house to host an eco birthday party. You can support your local community and pay a fee to host a skating party in the parking lot of a local business that has reduced their hours. Or perhaps you can hire a local nail tech for a preteen beauty party.

Some of our kids’ most favorite birthday parties have been when we simply kicked the kids outside to play alone! You don’t have to spend a dime to get happy kiddos – just ask parents to dress their children appropriately for potentially dirty outdoor play.

Green living doesn’t have to stop when it comes time to throw a child’s eco-friendly birthday party. With environmentally-friendly gifts or no gifts at all, avoiding disposable, single use items, supporting local farmers or seasonal food, and sending guests home with a useful party favor you can easily celebrate your child’s day and the Earth.

How do you celebrate an eco-friendly birthday parties? Please share any additional tips below.

About Michelle Marine

Michelle Marine is the author of How to Raise Chickens for Meat, a long-time green-living enthusiast, and rural Iowa mom of four. She empowers families to grow and eat seasonal, local foods; to reduce their ecological footprint; and to come together through impactful travel.

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