How to host a green birthday party

At the end of birthday parties bins can bulge with cheap disposable items. Tablecloths gathered at each corner and entire spreads bundled and binned whether items where ‘used’ or not. The focus of course – convenience.

There is a more sustainable approach.

But bubbles, party hats and confetti are fun! With planning, research and creativity fun can still be central for a ‘green’ birthday party. Create an environment that allows kids to use their imagination and fun happens.

Green birthday party principles

A sustainable party can save money in the long run and becomes more convenient to grab the reusable stash than buy disposable stuff. When the focus is family, sharing and spending time together it is easy to cut out unnecessary things. Remember – the best gift you can give a child is time.

Opt for items that are:

  • Borrowed
  • Reusable
  • Second hand
  • Neutral colours
  • Locally available

The green birthday party invitation

Get creative with a paperless invitation:

  • A powerpoint presentation with photos.
  • An email created with an interesting template.
  • A document attached to an email.

Choose wording to express your eco thinking in a respectful way. You can request no gifts, or preloved items. Contributing to something specific is another option – such as money towards a season of swimming lessons, sports activities or live stage production.

Tell guests you’ll have a birthday book to sign in lieu of individual birthday cards. With a photo of the party this becomes a treasured memento.

Birthday party experiences

An alternative to tangible gifts, they can also be the focus of the party. Host the party at a pool, bowling alley or somewhere free like a local playground, park or beach. Or at home with cooking, craft, building towers, obstacle courses or dressing up. Children don’t always need directed party games.

Party decorations

Avoid messy single use items that can harm wildlife – balloons, confetti and scatters. Try these non-plastic reusable decorations:

  • Bunting – fabric, wooden panels
  • Fabric streamers
  • Large fabric bows
  • Fabric/yarn poms poms
  • Lanterns
  • Fairy/string lights

Table setting

Choose quality, neutral, reusable pieces:

  • Fabric napkins and table cloths.
  • Reusable food wraps and covers, containers instead of plastic wrap and foil.
  • Reusable cutlery, plates and cups.
  • Water jug/dispenser and real cups/glasses.
  • Large bowls and platters. Some bowls/containers have matching lids (e.g. Pyrex) that make things easy to store, transport and pack up.


A few things to consider:

  • Light refreshments are sufficient for an event in-between main meals.
  • A BBQ where guests self-serve.
  • Realistically cater for the number of guests to minimise leftovers.
  • Food like muffins can be mini size and leftovers taken by guests or frozen for kids lunchboxes.
  • Fruit can be provided as fruit salad (a little goes a long way), a creative piece that can work instead of a cake, on skewers or whole in a fruit bowl.
  • Provide bins for recycling and food scraps (worms, chickens or compost).

Goodie bags

Are these necessary? If you have requested no gifts or pre-loved or reusable gifts, no card and no wrapping I think it is fair that a goodie bag is not a necessity either.

If you are adamant about party favours, consider craft items made on the day (e.g. airplane made from wooden pegs and paddle pop sticks) or something practical. These are a small token of thanks, not elaborate gifts.

  • Kids decorate a paper bags for leftovers.
  • Items that encourage activity and family time – seeds, pencils, a recipe.
  • Provide butchers paper to paint/colour to take home and use for wrapping paper.

These principles apply to all celebrations whether yours, a friend or family member. Finally, lead by example when you attend parties as a guest.

Do you have any green tips for parties?

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