How to have a plastic-free kids party

How to throw a next-level birthday party, that’s kind to the planet

happy kids party

What’s more exciting than the countdown to a kid’s birthday party? When you’re 5 -years-old it’s pretty much the pinnacle of social events, with fun, games and of course the cake — the literal icing on the cake. But once you throw in the plastic plates, gimmicky toys and dozens of bags of trash they can suddenly become a sustainable headache. The good news is, it doesn’t have to be that way, with a little planning and creative thinking it’s possible to plan a plastic-free party that the kids will love (along with their planet-loving parents!).

In this article we will cover the following plastic-free kids party tips:

  • Plan ahead to avoid impulse purchases and borrow or make things
  • Be conservative when planning the menu
  • Choose good quality, durable decorations that will last
  • Choose eco-friendly serving and dish ware
  • Say no to single use water bottles
  • Use greenery and florals for decoration
  • Set out a box for trash and recyclables on display
  • Limit party bag gifts to 1 or 2 useful items (crayons, a small book etc)
  • Email  or text invitations

Borrow party items

Taking time to carefully plan what you need in advance (food, decorations, games.) will save you from impulse purchasing. It also allows time to source items you need at little or no cost – such as making bunting to decorate the table, borrowing extra glasses or plates from a friend, or hiring chairs.

Plan the menu

You don’t need one of each food item for each guest. The average adult will eat around four to five canapé sized serves of food per hour.  A canapé sized piece equals one piece of sushi, a few strawberries, a couple of crackers with cheese, or half of a bigger item like a cupcake.  Kids will eat about three to four canapé sized serves per hour.

Choose durable decorations

If you’re buying decorations, look for well-made, durable pieces that you’ll get more than one use out of.  Choose garlands that can be hung in a bedroom, table confetti that the kids can use for craft afterwards, cake toppers you’ll use again, or can pass on to friends to use – it’s about quality, not quantity.

Choose eco-friendly plates and cutlery

If you’re planning to use disposable tableware, biodegradable and recyclable options exist. Similarly, certain brands of balloons are more eco-friendly than others. For example Qualatex balloons are fully biodegradable.

Say No to single use plastic bottles

Individual plastic bottles for kids are convenient, but create a lot of waste. Buy drinks in larger bottles and serve in reusable cups or glasses if you can. If you do decide to use disposable cups; provide a black marker so that guests can write their name on theirs and reuse it throughout the party.

Use greenery and flowers to decorate

Greenery and florals used as party decorations are very much on trend. Go beyond bunches of flowers and get really creative. Larger leaves can be used as placemats or table runners. Smaller leaves can be popped into mason jars, or to create garlands around centrepieces. Flowers can be tied to strings for bunting or backdrops.  And it can all be turned into mulch or composted at the end.

Sort out the trash

Set out a tub or box for trash, one for recyclables and one for food scraps if you compost.

Limit party favor gifts

Party favors are absolutely not essential, but let’s face it, they’re a fun way to end a party and kids love them. Avoid creating extra landfill by filling your bags with one or two quality items (e.g. a small book, colouring books or crayons) instead of multiple single-use plastic toys. For party favor ideas, see our article on The Tot Founder Nasiba’s eco-friendly party favors for kids.

Email invites

Keep your party footprint light by emailing digital invitations instead of printing and sending.


More plastic-free ideas

Did you know that summer is the time when we use the most plastic products? See our article on how to avoid plastic this summer.