When we throw parties we sometimes place convenience higher on the list of priorities than choices that might be better for our planet.
Here are some ideas for how to go eco-friendly when planning your next children’s party, that don’t have to be hard to do, or break the bank.
Every good party has a theme of some sort. What about making the whole party theme connected to being eco-conscious? It could be to do with the sea, endangered animals, nature, or even seasons. Anything nature related could be tonnes of fun – just get your thinking cap on! It’s also a great opportunity to chat with your child about nature, our planet or the animals – and why they need our help! You can get into DIY mode with this one, by pre-planning and making some decor by upcycling!
Plates and cups
Rather than using disposable plastic or paper plates and cups, you could opt to go for compostable ones. Or better yet – have a “Bring Your Own Plate” or cup party! Imagine how fun it’ll be to have all different types, colours and patterns! Very reminiscent of the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party in Alice in Wonderland.
Also, give the plastic straws a miss, and either ask everyone to bring their own metal reusable straw or use paper ones that can be recycled or composted afterwards.
Instead of sending out lots of invitations made out of paper or card, why not make some cool digital ones instead? There are lots of options and you can link them up with your party theme easily, to keep continuity.
Instead of using helium balloons which inevitably end up in the oceans, polluting it for marine life, find other ways to decorate. (Also, I just read yesterday that there’s a helium shortage in the world, so yet another reason to go eco-friendly and avoid those balloons.)
You could make paper chains out of old newspaper before recycling it. Kids love to get involved in making paper chains. You could make bunting out of old scraps of material in different colours and patterns. Alternatively, buying some sturdy, high-quality decorations that can be used again and again is another environmentally-friendly option – and then you can share them with the community so everyone can benefit and less is bought.
The gifts could be wrapped in material you already have. Some friends of mine always use sweaters to hide presents inside. Other options are wrapping in old newspaper before recycling it, or reusing old wrapping paper – so what if it’s a bit crinkly, it will only get ripped apart anyway when children open their gifts!
On the subject of presents, you could have a gift wish-list with experiences on it – things you can do together, or sponsor an endangered animal for charity.
Look for return gift options that are eco-friendly like plantable stationery, toys made of recycled materials or bamboo & wood.
The 3R’s – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!
Have Recycling Stations so it’s clear to your guests where to put their paper, plastic, and general waste. Keep any wrapping paper that can be salvaged and reused. You can even save up decorations for next year!
Children can get very excited at parties and end up sometimes eating less than they normally would because they’re excitedly running around or engaging in various party games. So to avoid food waste, make less food. Or at least send the party guests home with left-overs. Also, rather than opting for sugar-filled, processed options that are pre-made, pre-wrapped etc, opt to make your own foods. There will be less packaging waste, and you may even save yourself some money too. No harm in being economical, as well as eco-conscious. (and you may even avoid the sugar rush and crash that children can experience after eating junk food)
There are lots of games that don’t need you to buy or create anything for the children to be able to have fun. Musical statues, musical chairs, freeze tag, or scavenger hunts out in the nature with clues can be lots of fun. If you really feel like making something you could have a crafts table with leaves and things found in nature, old bits of paper or wrapping paper that’s been cut out into. Interesting shapes, toilet paper and kitchen towel rolls. You can even get them to do DIY activities like make your own jewellery or cars and trucks!
This can double as a party favour – you could send the children home with a little bag of seeds so they can plant their own flowers or herbs and watch them grow!
Hopefully, there are lots of ideas here to get your creative juices flowing – the main thing is so have fun with it, think outside the box and involve your children as much as possible in the creating/planning of the party – because it’s a fantastic opportunity to talk about protecting our planet with them, and helping them understand why we do these things.
Camilla Gammelgaard-Baker is Parenting Coach and Psychodynamic Counsellor working with clients all over the world. With a background in psychology and with 20+ years experience of working with families, she is known for her work with Mothers to overcome self-doubt and burn-out. She currently lives a very eco-friendly life in Denmark with her husband, son, cat and dog.