Early this week was my daughter’s birthday and I was determined to throw her an eco friendly kids party (combined with social distancing rules). Did I manage? Only partially and I must admit that it was harder than initially thought. Perhaps I’m at a bit of a low point of my green journey. Determination and willingness are still here but day-to-day reality proves tricky.
But as with everything, I’m sure that next time I will be more successful. And before I share with you my ideas and practical suggestions, here is what I learnt in a few bullet points.
Eco friendly kids party – my learnings
- Plan in advance – you will need more time than usually as being eco requires a bit more effort.
- Investigate and research early – you will want to know where to buy everthing you’re going to need. Supermarkets or nearest shops are convenient but often filled with plastic.
- Reuse as much as you can – if you start buying durable party items each year will be easier.
- Consider compromises – they will be necessary to keep things realistic in terms of time and budget. You don’t want to run around like a headless chicken and break the bank.
- Little people might not be pleased – be ready to slightly disappoint the party invitees or make less eco friendly shortcuts. It’s all about small changes and alternatives.
- Train your body and mind in advance – kids parties (eco or not) are exhausting ;).
Invitations eco friendly style
I have researched extensively and all the sources suggested that eco friendly kids parties come with online invitations. This way you save using paper and pollution linked with delivering your cards.
I struggled with this idea as making handmade invites is a perfect opportunity to be creative and practise writing – my daughter is 6 years old. To keep with eco principles we decided to:
- Use only materials available at home – colour papers, patterns for arts and crafts and fresh plants.
- Deliver by hand if possible – we cycled with all the precious letters.
Decorations for eco friendly kids party
This part wasn’t so hard. Me and my little helper like arts and crafts, and I had many elements from previous years. Key learnings I had were:
- It’s worth investing in reusable and durable elements bunting and table runners.
- Ballons are a no go. This is where kids usually show their disappointment. Ballons are pretty, commonly used and widely present in glossy magazines. But, unless you buy biodegradable, they are non recyclable and create danger for animals when released in the air. But here I must be honest. I found so many ballons I bought in my ‘past not-so-eco-responsible life’ so I decided to use them before they get dry and get thrown out.
- Fresh flowers can create a very pretty and biodegradable alternative.
- I heard about the idea of using dry leaves as confetti.
- In the past, I reused boxes to make cartoon posters, photo booth and colourful walls. I painted them and made fun with my little helper.
Food and snacks
The challenge here is to avoid plastic packaging.
- Make your own birthday cake. This was easy as we do it every year and it’s fun to come up with a new idea. Where it gets tricky is buying ingredients without excessive plastic wrapping.
- Think about buying snacks and sweets for kids in advance. I bought Smarties as they come in paper boxes. But the homemade piñata ended up being filled last minute with sweets all in plastic wrappers. 😬 🤭 Here early planning and preparation are key, missed in my case.
- Many sources suggest sticking to fresh fruit as snacks but I knew that my little guests would be very disappointed.
To make pinata at home, use a ballon and a glue made out of flour and water. Now cut old newspapers in stripes and mix them with your glue. Apply sticky newspapers on the ballon in many layers. Once it’s dry, decorate it with colour paper or anything else you have at home. Add multiple layers and leave to dry.
Serving food at eco friendly kids parties
Best solution is to use your own plates and cutlery. Lack of time and last minute running around meant that I was well prepared for my little guests. But not so much for accompanying parents.
- I took advantage of multi use and durable plastic plates and cups. But I forgot to plan for adult guests. I had a stash of old one use plastic cups and cutlery and I had to go with it. To defend my sustainability credentials I picked ever single of these items that survived (they are truly made as one use only) and washed them and took home to reuse.
- Think about cotton wipes or bamboo reusable kitchen towel to clean hands and chocolate covered faces. Again, as last prep was rushed, I took a normal kitchen towel. And sadly all of this went to waste.
Gifts and goody bags
I found this part the easiest as I already had ideas from past years.
- Start thinking about gifts and presents wrapping differently. I am getting used to wrapping presents in what’s available at home. I have plenty of tissue paper for arts activities. I wrap it and decorate it with my little helper. You might want to get and reuse pretty fabrics, too.
- After party I also collected every wrapping paper in a good state and will make sure I will give it a second life.
- Goody bags might often be filled with so much plastic. But it’s an easy part to improve. Although it requires pre planning and finding shops that sell not only plastic toys and gadgets. Here are some ideas to consider.
- 1. Edible gifts – make biscuits and offer them in jar containers. Kids won’t be disappointed with anything that is sweet.
- 2. Seeds or grass heads toys – they are fun and can educate kids at the same time.
- 3. Wooden or durable items – this year I ended up with metallic cookie cutters and wooden toys to assembly. I added a biscuits recipe inside it suggesting how kids might use their cutters. But I packed them in plastic bags 😲 as, again, I found them stashed from previous years.
- 4. Colourful socks – you can fill them with sweets and kids will actually use them as opposed to throwing away as soon as they’re back at home.
- 5. Plain t-shirts decorated with tissue pens during the party. They can make a nice goody bag item and an entertaining activity during the party.
- 6. Mini honey jar with a wooden bee to help explain about how honey is made.
- 7. Wooden crayons or pencils – they are always useful and not too pricey.
Try my natural play dough recipe with essential oils if you’re searching for more kids related ideas.