Isabel Mack, founder of the Party Kit Network, shares her tips for greener kids party planning.
Set Your Goals
Even the most relaxed person can find organising a kids birthday party pretty stressful. So if making more sustainable choices is important to you, start the planning a bit earlier. This makes it easier to choose greener options, as it tends to be the last minute panic buys that are the least eco-friendly.
When you begin planning the party, think about what elements of sustainable living are most important to you. Whether it’s avoiding single-use plastic, animal products or reducing waste in general, pick a couple of key areas and start there rather than trying to tick all the eco boxes.
If old enough, ask the birthday child what’s important to them when it comes to protecting our planet. Getting their input is a great way to have a discussion about sustainable living and they may just surprise you!
How to Reduce Your Impact
Send Eco Invitations
Switching to digital invites saves time and money and can make managing RSVPs easier. There’s loads of websites which offer digital invite services or simply send a text or email with the party details.
The party invites are also an opportunity to set expectations around gifts. At kids parties there can be an overwhelming volume of gifts, each needing storage space but also with their own carbon footprint.
For a greener party, instead consider asking guests to:
- gift only preloved items - these could be items they already have, unwanted gifts or something bought secondhand.
- gift money towards one main present picked by the birthday child. (A ‘fiver’ party is a good example of this where a financial limit is set.)
- gift only homemade items.
- not bring a gift.
To avoid any disappointment on the party day it’s advisable to check with the birthday child first before sending out any special gift requests to guests.
Less Waste Food & Tableware
Food is often an important part of a children's party - and who doesn’t like a cube of cheese and pineapple on a stick?!
However a large amount of the waste generated by a party comes from the food. That’s waste from leftover food but also food packaging and disposable tableware.
Here’s some simple tips to help reduce party waste:
Try to be realistic about how much each guest might eat, especially if the party isn’t at a regular meal time. Over catering can lead to a lot of waste.
Reduce the impact of leftover food by taking along storage tubs so any food which can still be safely eaten can be taken home or shared. Many party foods can be frozen - even birthday cake!
Avoid cling film - its single-use plastic and difficult to recycle. Instead use storage tubs, cake tins, jars, old takeaway containers or even foil, which can be washed and reused or recycled.
Keep food packaging to a minimum by reducing the amount of prepared food you buy. Instead ask others to help by making sandwiches or chopping veg sticks.
Switch to reusable tableware - use what you already have, borrow from friends and neighbours, or hire a local party kit.
Plastic Free Party Bags
I think most of us either love or hate party bags! It can seem like there’s a lot of pressure when deciding on party bags from the fear of being judged and the results are often not very eco-friendly.
Party bags are notoriously bad for generating a lot of plastic waste: small plastic bags filled with small plastic tat or plastic-wrapped sweets which are then often quickly forgotten by the recipient (after the initial sugar high!).
If the idea of party bags fills you with no joy then consider just not doing them at all - instead send the kids home with a slice of cake. Just think of all the plastic tat you have avoided and that other families may actually appreciate your decision not to send their kids home with essentially more clutter.
If you would like to give guests a party favour then these suggestions are a little more eco-friendly than the traditional party bag:
Instead of a bag, gift a book. This can be pretty cost effective if you buy a book bundle or go for secondhand.
Gift a simple activity for the kids to do at home after the party. This could be a basic craft kit or a cookie recipe jar.
Create a lucky dip - fill a box with shredded paper and let each kid select an item as they leave the party. These could be small eco-friendly items, such as a wooden animal, or a toy car. Smallkind stocks lots of plastic-free small toys and treats for party bags that won't break the bank, see the collection here.
How to Keep It Simple
When it comes to trying to live more sustainably it’s really easy to get bogged down with finding the greenest option.
It’s important to remember that parties are meant to be fun and being eco-friendly is a journey. When making choices try to pick an option which is a bit greener than perhaps your default - it doesn't have to be the greenest.
Very few parties are truly zero waste, but by focusing on a few key areas you can massively reduce the environmental impact of your party.
And if trying to throw an eco-friendly party gets too overwhelming, don’t forget it’s better to make a conscious start than throw the perfect eco party.
About the Party Kit Network
The Party Kit Network is taking action against waste by connecting those planning a party with local kits of reusable tableware. There are hundreds of party kits available across the UK and Australia helping to avoid thousands of single-use items every week.
Find out more at partykitnetwork.org
If you're planning a kids party shop our range of eco friendly, plastic free party bags and small treats here we've done the research so you don't have to!