5 Tips for Hosting a Child’s Birthday Party Without Plastic

eco-friendly birthday party

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I believe that many people truly want to be more eco-friendly, but the how of it — the nitty-gritty details — eludes them. So when I talk about throwing a plastic-free, low-waste, eco-friendly birthday party for your kid, it may sound like a great idea — you might even plan to do it! But when it comes right down to it … how do you pull it off?

How to throw an eco-friendly birthday party

Don’t worry, it doesn’t involve spartan decor and burlap sack races. Here are a few tips from a dinosaur-themed party I threw for my daughter’s third birthday.

1. Skip the balloons and plastic decorations in favor of eco-friendly alternatives

Eco friendly child's birthday party idea

Hosting an eco-friendly child’s birthday party isn’t hard with a little pre-planning. Photo: Madeleine Somerville

I bought a fabric birthday banner from Etsy when my daughter was born, and we haul it out for all family birthdays. I like that it’s something constant that we can use year after year, and it will be in all of our birthday photos. Instead of balloons, we use paper poufs and streamers, which can be reused or recycled after the party’s over.

2. Keep food simple and avoid plastic plates and cutlery

Eco friendly child's birthday party idea

Farmers market food is a great way to go. Photo: Madeleine Somerville

Years ago, I picked up an inexpensive set of dishes from a secondhand store — the plates were around 25 cents each, so if someone breaks one, it’s not a big deal, and it helps me avoid one-time-use paper or plastic plates. I serve finger food to avoid the use of cutlery, and choosing food readily available at the farmers market — like fruits, veggies, cheese and meat — means packaging can be kept to a minimum.

3. Skip the big bags of party favors

Eco friendly child's birthday party idea

Plastic party favors aren’t necessary. Photo: Madeleine Somerville

In previous years, I have given away decorations (strings of paper cranes) as party favors; this year, I gave out small dinosaur-shaped chocolates. Small is good. Edible is good. Just avoid going to the dollar store and getting a bunch of cheap, plastic junk — or even better, skip the loot bag altogether!

4. Nix the gifts

I like the focus to be on the celebration, the coming together of friends and family, rather than the presents, so I typically ask that guests either avoid gifts altogether or make a donation to a local charity if they would like. This means that parents can avoid running around to toy stores, I don’t have to rearrange my house to accomodate tons of new gear, my daughter doesn’t focus on material goods, and the environment benefits, too. Everyone wins!

5. Party on

Eco friendly child's birthday party ideas

Remember that decor can be recycled! Photo: Madeleine Somerville

After the fun is over, put an ad on a local mom’s group or free site, and pass your decorations on to someone else. For the price of a latte, I passed these dinosaur party hats and pompoms on to the mother of a dinosaur-obsessed little boy, and they lived to see another day!

Have you ever thrown an eco-friendly birthday party? How did you pull it off?

Feature image courtesy of Tiffany Arment

Madeleine Somerville

Madeleine Somerville is the author of All You Need Is Less: An Eco-Friendly Guide to Guilt-Free Green Living and Stress-Free Simplicity. She is a writer, wannabe hippie and lover of soft cheeses. She lives in Edmonton, Canada, with her daughter. You can also find Madeleine at her blog, Sweet Madeleine.