A birds eye view of a selection of reusable party ware in bright colours.

5 Tips for a More Sustainable Kids Party

Guest blog post by Isabel Mack, founder of the Party Kit Network.

As the true impact of human activity on our planet becomes increasingly evident, many us of us are keen to make more eco-friendly choices. This includes what we choose for our parties.

Yet in the midst of planning a kids’ party, the idea of being more sustainable can seem overwhelming. There’s often a fear that prioritising eco-friendliness will somehow spoil the fun. However, we can still have an enjoyable celebration while being kinder to our planet.

Here are my top five tips for hosting a more eco-friendly kids party:

1. Switch to Reusable Tableware

Disposable paper plates and plastic cups have become a party staple due to their affordability and convenience—no washing up required, making them common on many party planning shopping lists. However, these single-use items use significant resources during production and generate a lot of waste after a very short use.

Given the well-understood environmental impact of single-use plastics, many governments are now implementing bans on such tableware. So, what’s a more sustainable alternative?

Switching to reusable tableware is one of the most effective ways to reduce waste at a party. If you find yourself short on tableware, you could host a bring-your-own party, where guests are invited to bring their own cups and plates, or arrange to borrow additional items from friends and neighbours – local swap groups are a great place to borrow something you only need for a short time.

Another option is to check if there is a local party kit available in your area. A party kit is a box of reusable tableware borrowed for the party and returned afterward to be used again. Some party kit hosts even offer the convenience of a washing-up service. This gives you all the benefits of disposable tableware while also avoiding those soggy paper plates and the associated carbon footprint. Find your local party kit: partykitnetwork.org/find 

2. Plan Ahead to Avoid Party Food Waste

When it comes to party food, the fear of under-catering is very real for many of us. This can lead to a lot of leftovers at the end of the party. But with a bit of planning, we can significantly reduce waste from food.

  • Create a menu plan and try to be realistic about quantities needed, especially if your party isn’t at a regular mealtime. Generally younger children don’t go crazy for sandwiches so save yourself time and only make a couple per child. 
  • Write a shopping list to reduce last-minute panic buying in the supermarket.
  • Plan ahead for any leftovers. You could ask guests to bring food containers along to the party so they can take home any extra food, or take along some old takeaway tubs so you can pack up any food which could still safely be eaten. Some party food can be frozen – even crisps and cake (not that there’s normally much of that left!).

3. Greener Party Bags Ideas

The plastic-filled party bag is dreaded by many parents, especially those trying to make more eco-friendly choices. The cheap plastic toys are often short-lived (and frequently pretty annoying!), and can be another source of unnecessary plastic waste.

Choosing eco-friendly party bags doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming. There are now many online suppliers who provide both plastic-free party bag fillers and premade party bags. Try to keep in mind that for many children a small gift or bag of sweets along with a slice of cake is enough.

Another option is to ditch the party bag entirely for one of these:

  • Grow Your Own Kit: Our connection to nature is a core part of the journey to live more sustainably. A pot with compost and seeds can be a fun activity for children to plant and grow at home.
  • Gift a Book: Books can bring such joy and can even be tied in with your party theme. To reduce the cost, you can buy book bundles to split or look for preloved.
  • DIY Craft Kits: Pick a simple craft project the children could enjoy making at home and provide a small kit of materials. This could include items to upcycle or head down to your local scraps store for ideas.

4. Consider a no-gifts party

Throwing a no-gift party is probably my most controversial tip, but asking guests not to bring gifts to a kids party can really help to reduce the carbon footprint of your event. While this may seem like a big ask of the birthday child, I wouldn’t suggest it if I hadn’t successfully tried it myself.

For the past two years, my son has had no-gift parties. Here’s how I approached it:

  • I explained the idea to my son (then aged six) well ahead of the party and gave him some alternative options. I also reminded him several times leading up to the big day to avoid any disappointment.
  • I included a note on the invitation, emphasising that my son was on board with the idea of a no-gift party.
  • I provided guests with the option to contribute a small amount of money instead, based on the ‘fiver’ party concept. Recognising the cultural significance of gift-giving for some parents, I made it clear that any gifted money would go towards his chosen gift, which that first year was a Hot Wheels set.

Alternatively, your birthday child could suggest preloved gifts only, encouraging guests to bring items they no longer play with or purchasing secondhand toys. Or instead they may like to ask for donations towards a cause they are passionate about.

Not only is this approach greener, it can go some way to ease the exclusion that can occur with children’s party invitations, relieving the pressure on families who may struggle to afford gifts for every party their child is invited to.

5. Plan for Rubbish

You might find this a strange tip coming from someone who campaigns against unnecessary waste, but the truth is, even with our best efforts, there will inevitably be some rubbish leftover after a party. The best way to reduce the impact of this rubbish is to plan ahead.

  • Take a bag or box with you for any recycling so that it doesn’t get lost in the general rubbish. It’s then easy to take this home to add to your household recycling or drop off at a local collection point.
  • If you have access to food waste collection or a compost bin, take a tub with a lid for any food scraps rather than putting them in the general rubbish bin.

Keeping It Simple

Making eco-friendly choices isn’t always easy, but these tips show that with a few simple changes, you can throw a kids party that’s not only kinder to the planet but just as much fun. 

Parties are an occasion to be joyful, to celebrate a milestone with friends and family and create happy memories. By making conscious choices, we can create a brighter future for our children while still having an awesome time today.

About the Party Kit Network 

Party Kit Network is a non-profit social enterprise taking action against unnecessary waste. It brings together hundreds of people who host party kits of reusable tableware for their local communities. There are hundreds of party kits available across the UK, Australia and more helping to avoid thousands of single-use items every week. 

Find out more at partykitnetwork.org

Facebook: www.facebook.com/partykitnetwork

Instagram: www.instagram.com/partykitnetwork 

Thank you to Isabel Mack for providing an amazing guest blog post – Jelly Jade

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