Gilbert will be turning one soon and I’ve been thinking about his birthday.
When I think of children’s birthday parties I imagine balloons and brightly coloured wrapping paper, plastic party bags full of cheap plastic tat that gets played with once, then ends up getting lost behind the sofa.
I remember, as a child, enjoying buffets of finger food. But in hindsight these came wrapped in single use plastic…which was then unwrapped and placed on single use plastic platters…before little fingers once again moved them onto their own little single use plastic plates with pictures of Barbie or Thomas the Tank Engine on them. Wow. Like really, wow.
So how can you make birthdays a little more eco friendly?
Downsize the invite list
Big birthday parties can be really stressful and hectic for parents, 20 or so children running wild, a mountain of plastic presents, and enough rubbish to warrant a trip to the tip afterwards! My first tip would be to downsize that party. It can be awkward with school children, you try to avoid leaving anyone out, so often the whole class gets invited. Why not make it a more intimate birthday party with 5-10 friends? It’ll be much more manageable, less stressful, and money can be better spent on experiences.
Choose an eco party activity
- Search for your local Forest School for a fun outdoors party idea;
- Make your own nature trail party, where the children have to hunt for eco prizes and spot different flora, fauna and wildlife on the way;
- Consider crafting as a fun alternative to the traditional birthday party. Why not try a pottery decorating party? There are plenty of craft studios around that offer different experiences. Or a do-it-yourself arty party, with craft stations set up with your child’s favourite arts and crafts;
- Avoid a mountain of washing up, and a bin full of single use plates, by having a picnic. Even if it’s a winter birthday, you can lay out the picnic blanket indoors – the children will love it and any crumbs can be shaken out of the blanket later;
- Party games like ‘pass the parcel’ are lots of fun, but really wasteful. What about a treasure hunt instead? The “treasure” doesn’t need to be wrapped, just hunting it down and finding it will be plenty of fun.
Use eco party decorations
Forget the balloons and plastic party bags, here are some tips for eco decorations that will still make the day feel super special.
- Make your own bunting out of scraps of fabric – it can be brought out every year for birthdays to come! Try using baby clothing that is too worn to be passed on, it will make for some very sentimental bunting;
- If you’re not the arty type, then buy a cloth birthday banner, just be sure not to put the age on it and you’ll be able to use it year after year;
- Send e-invites rather than paper ones, it will save money and paper!
- On the invitation, ask parents to bring a water bottle for their child, it’s a simple and easy ask, and avoids the need for plastic/single use cups;
- If you want to have party bags then use paper bags rather than plastic, and why not include eco friendly items like seeds so little guests can carry on the fun at home by planting and watching their seeds grow.
Ask for eco-friendly presents
We’re so used to bringing plastic toys…that come in plastic…wrapped in plastic-coated wrapping paper, to birthday parties. Seriously what were we thinking?! There is another way. It’s Gilberts first birthday this year, and it’ll just be family and close friends coming to our house for a little get-together. We feel pretty comfortable asking our guests for no new plastic toys, or even that many toys in general, but it can be helpful to suggest other ideas for presents.
So how do you keep the present-buying from getting out of hand?
- Ask family to contribute to a savings account, instead of buying presents;
- Suggest people pool their contributions towards a larger gift, like a bicycle or climbing frame;
- Encourage buying pre-loved presents;
- Get friends to pass on a toy instead of buying new;
- Consider gift experiences instead of toys – what’s better than a fun day out with Grandma & Grandpa?!
- Get a little library together by asking guests to bring their favourite childhood book, with a personalised note in the front (if they buy them second hand even better!);
- For a big birthday, why not get family members to write letters that can be opened when they turn 18 or 21?
- Have any crafty friends and family? Homemade gifts are lovely and sentimental.
I hope this has given you some ideas for an eco-friendly birthday.
I’d love to hear about your eco tips, comment below to share!
Did you enjoy this? If so you might like my post ‘Does having a baby mean bathing in a sea of plastic?’