Here are suggestions for hosting an eco-friendly party with less waste. If you want a greener party that will please your child and also be less wasteful, we have some ideas you may want to try. All it takes is a little planning to host a joyful celebration that’s also eco-friendly!
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Where to Start?
- Even your choice of location can help reduce the impact of the party. During warm weather, a party held outdoors provides its own decorations in the form of trees, flowers, clouds and perhaps a swing set. Think of using your backyard, a local park or your nearest nature center. This will also eliminate the use of electricity for lights or air conditioning.
- Bring containers with you to collect recyclable items. Then take them home to place in your recycle bins.
- Save paper by calling your guests instead of mailing invitations.
Party Supplies You Can Recycle
- Start by placing separate recycle bins for paper and plastic (to include glass/plastic/aluminum items) in the room where food will be served. Clearly label the bins and point them out to guests.
- Save wrapping paper, gift bags and bows to use again.
- Wash plastic utensils and serving trays for future use.
- Collect all the remaining paper, plastic, glass and aluminum to be recycled.
- Reuse a personalized party banner by hanging it in your child’s room afterwards.
- Instead of flower arrangements that die in a few days, use small plants to add some greenery to your party. Then send them home with guests as favors.
- Removable wall decorations can be reused as playroom decor.
- Decorate a table by arranging the favor boxes in a fun container like a large basket, pretty tray or on cake stands.
- When ordering balloons, remember that latex balloons are made from the sap of rubber trees and are biodegradable. In fact, they decompose at the same rate as oak leaves.
- Foil balloons (sometimes referred to as Mylar balloons) are made from a synthetic plastic/nylon material that can be recycled, but they are not biodegradable.
- Decorate the table with personalized placemats for each guest. These are laminated, reusable, and can double as a party favor.
- Use the birthday cake as the centerpiece on the main food table.
- Or use a fabric tablecloth or a sheet that you already own.
- Purchase reusable stadium cups instead of disposables, and let guests take them home as a favor.
- Create table decorations from toys your child already owns. For example, a clean dump truck makes a great centerpiece for a Construction theme party, a red toy barn can become the centerpiece at a Barnyard party, or a doll’s tea set can be used at a Tea party.
- Tuck unused party napkins into school lunch boxes the following week.
- Check with your local recycling agency to see if they accept used paper plates and napkins for composting.
- Try to include natural foods in your party menu such as whole grain crackers, fresh vegetables and kid friendly fruits. This will cut down on the preservatives and is healthier for the children.
- Look for organic and locally grown food when shopping for the party. Organic will be healthier for the guests and food grown nearby did not travel far to reach the store, thus using less fuel.
- Reduce the amount of wasted food by choosing small serving sizes. This could mean baking smaller cupcakes in a mini muffin pan, or purchasing snacks that are made in small sizes, such as the various animal shaped crackers made for children (one brand makes rabbits, another teddy bears, etc.)
- You can also cut hot dogs on a bun in half, serve sliders, chicken fingers and sandwiches cut into quarters. This way, children won’t be as inclined to waste food.
- Pour small amounts of 100% juice in reusable stadium cups.
- Make as much of the party food as your time allows. This will eliminate preservatives and wasteful packaging.
- Use trays you already own to serve the food or birthday cake.
- Send leftover food home with your guests and share extra cake with your neighbors.
Party Favor Ideas
Along with gifts come a mountain of wrapping paper, tissue, gift bags, ribbons and bows, much of which is thrown away. Spread the word that you’d like guests to use newspaper or an old pillowcase instead of wrapping paper. Collect the newspaper at the party and deposit in your recycle bin.
Instead of purchasing a gift, you could ask guests to recycle a book or toy from their home that they think your child would enjoy.
Many children have an abundance of toys, and parents may not want gifts brought to the party. Here are some suggestions that may work for you:
- If many of the guests attend the same school, request that they bring a new book for the school library.
- If your child loves animals, have guests bring pet food to be donated to the local animal shelter.
- If your church or community runs a food pantry, ask guests to bring their favorite food items to donate.
- Ask guests to bring a toy that can be donated to a children’s hospital or homeless shelter.
- With these suggestions, all the children involved participate in giving to a worthy cause, and they all leave the party feeling good about their donation. The birthday child then gets the honor of bringing the donated items to the charity the next day.
- Or simply add the words “No Gifts, Please” to the invitation.
Choose a container to hold the favors that can be recycled or reused. Paper favor boxes and the crinkle paper filling can be recycled. Small canvas tote bags or lunch boxes can be used again by guests. See our selection of tote bags and favor boxes, or our lunch boxes.
Choose favors of good quality that the children will enjoy rather than throw-away items. Some of our favorites are:
- Personalized zipper pulls
- Finger puppets
- Personalized bag tags for backpacks and lunch boxes
- Pretend play and costume items
- Homemade cookies
- Coloring books
- Sidewalk chalk
- Pillowcases to decorate
- Personalized placemats
- Small flower plant
- Wooden toys
Party Planning Toolbox
Use the links below to quickly find related theme party supplies, planning tips, printable checklists, and advice from our party planning experts.
- Green Party Supplies: A lot of our paper products are made of 85% recycled fiber. Look for the recycle icon on individual products to find out which ones are green.
- Green Personalized Items: Check out our exclusive personalized items including invitations, bookmarks, stickers, and more!
- Birthday Party Decorating Ideas: This guide will tell you how to decorate for your party theme, what to do with balloons and streamers, how to decorate with food, how to set the table, and how to make your own party decorations.
- Parties Under $100: Use this guide to celebrate in style without breaking the bank!
- Party Budget Estimator: Download this guide to help budget your expenses.
- More Birthday Theme Ideas: Browse our list of over 130 themed party guides to find tips for your child’s next birthday! Each guide includes ideas for invitations, decorations, food, favors, games and more.
Games and Activities
This scavenger hunt is a simple and fun way to entertain a large group of children during an outside party.
Turn an empty toilet paper tube into a clever bird feeder!
This easy and inexpensive craft lets your guests show their creative side.
Dye your own rainbow pasta for beaded craft activities!
Balloon Beanbag Balls
Children will love making their own squishy bean balls!
Guests will plant their own real gardens to take home.
Kids will hop as fast as they can to win this relay race.
Have guests design far out T-shirts to take home.