In all aspects of life, less truly is more. And in the context of a child’s birthday party, less garbage can = less stress and more fun.
Birthday parties are notorious for taking huge amounts of time and energy to organize, costing too much money and creating bags full of garbage.
When I first talked to friends and family about Theo’s birthday party, the first question many asked me was, ‘What’s your theme?’
Is the measure of a good party which cartoon character we endorse, or colour coordination and material accessories chosen?
Theo’s only interest was spending the morning playing with his friends and at some stage blowing out a candle and devouring a slice of birthday cake.
Going into it I wondered if I could host a party loved by all, children and adults alike, which produced zero garbage and saw only a few, thoughtful gifts exchanged.
The answer was yes yes and yes
When I first discussed the birthday party with the invited guests (six of Theo’s friends plus their families), I’m sure it came as no surprise that I would shoot for a greener option.
Rather than sound surprised, skeptical or shoot me a funny look, people were happy and excited. They found it refreshing. No wasted time, energy and money spent sourcing and purchasing gifts. And in return they wouldn’t see yet another loot bag enter their home, full of plastic bits and bobs they would later find scattered and abandoned on their living room floor.
Here’s how we pulled it all together:
Our Zero Waste Birthday Party
Make it very clear that it's the presence of guests that’s required, not presents. It’s often necessary to go beyond a ‘No gifts please’, and make sure this is very clear by explaining why.
Keep numbers small which means more quality interactions, less stress, less noise, less clean up.
There are so many green party games/activities on Pinterest, we opted for none as ultimately the kids just wanted free time to be together.
Send paperless Invitations
Rather than waste trees, set up a simple event on Facebook or use one of the free evite invitation systems.
We simply used what plates, bowls, mugs and glasses we had and borrowed the rest from friends.
Guests are not judging you on your coordinating crockery. Personally, I love an eclectic mug collection.
Keep the food simple, generally you’re only providing snacks, less on offer means less food wasted. I prepared:
A gigantic bowl of homemade hummus with veggie dippers.
Fresh bread straight from the oven. We prepped two large loaves which were popped in the oven just 30 minutes prior to guests arriving. Who doesn’t love a house that smells like a bakery. Friends are always impressed by your bread making skills but seriously ours is a five minute job.
Homemade baked goods, banana muffins, granola bars, chocolate cake drizzled in chocolate icing.
Bulk bought snacks - banana chips, raisins, pretzels, chocolate covered peanuts, dried apricots.
Birthday cake made by a good friend, all Vegan!
We served only freshly ground coffee and teas.
Mimosa’s (because who doesn’t need to take the edge off of 16 small people’s noise) made with freshly juiced oranges and sparkling wine.
No loot bags
We chose not to give. After a fun morning of playing, tasty snacks and a slice of birthday cake, what could kids need really? But if you’re wanting to give, I’ve seen some other green bloggers make and give green goodie bags using paper bags with seeds for planting and homemade goodies inside.
I had every intention of making a jar of bath bombs for each family, but as usual time escaped me. Homemade playdoh in a mason jar would be a very easy and cheap gift to give if you felt compelled to give something.
Despite my ‘please please do not bring gifts’ request, we did get a few, but those we did receive were very thoughtful, with no plastic packaging in sight.
A T shirt hand screened by one of the guests (Check out sun+stars co page). I love to support local artists so this will be treasured.
A bundle of hand decorated envelopes, with his good friend’s new house address (so they can be pen pals)
A pack of socks
Two of Theo's favourite chapter books.
I wanted to make decorations which could be kept and used for all future family birthdays, so I decided on homemade bunting. If getting crafty is not your thing there are so many beautifully made ones to buy on Etsy, but with a couple of hours and a sewing machine, they are surprisingly simple. I made three long strings of bunting for less than $10.