Waste Free but still Fun Packed Kids Parties


In a world where pollution is overwhelming and our children are the great hope for the future of humanity – how do we reconcile childhood fun with environmental awareness and care for our single, precious earth?

While sociologists report that children are overwhelmed with grief for our natural world and suffering anxiety over the fate of the planet, how can we help them enjoy a carefree childhood, and also feel empowered to do their part to help heal the earth?

Over the last 2 decades, children’s birthday parties have become a plastic-fest of monstrous proportions. Parents who were grateful for cake, chippies and ribena at their own childhood parties shop for a bootload of – well, total junk – from the $2 shop to prepare for their child’s party.

Plastic goody bags for every child must contain lollies and toys so no one feels left out, cheap toys are bought for pass-the-parcel where every layer now contains a gift, plastic cups, plastic plates, plastic cutlery, plastic table cloth, plastic hats, glitter, balloons… and the huge glorious begged for plastic toy for the hero of the day.

Spot the toys. Mouth of Los Angeles River, Long Beach, CA. Photo © Bill McDonald, Algalita Foundation / Heal The Bay.


Step one – have a chat with your child about how plastic isn’t a great option and get them on board with the idea of an eco party. Ask them for ideas on games you can include and what fun things they might like to include that don’t have plastic in them. Kids are amazing at coming up with solutions given half a chance to think. Ask things like ‘instead of plastic plates what could we give people to put their food on?’ If the child suggests banana leaves or your normal kitchen plates, go with it! The odds are they will feel fantastic about helping make the earth happier.

8 Plastic free party alternatives

1.  Plates, glasses & Cutlery

  • If you really can’t face washing plates and cutlery, buy bamboo.
  • If you don’t want your china plates and glasses broken, shop at your local op shop for a party set, wash and save for parties or return for them to re-sell!
  • Maybe you really don’t need plates! Set up a kid-height buffet outdoors, and let them graze while they play.
  • Ditch the straws. Seriously, there is just no need. Or if you want to create a VIP atmosphere, buy a set of reusable bamboo or stainless straws.

2.  Make time with your kids to fold paper ribbons or make paper or cloth bunting to decorate the party venue. Cloth bunting can be reused over and over and is so pretty!

3.  For ‘party favours’ think of plastic free things children will reuse – colouring pencils, giant chalk sticks, playdough (you can even make no-cook playdough at the party as kids love to help), – or give edible treats like a little cardboard box of cherries and strawberries.

4.  In your invites, ask for people to give experiences rather than gifts. Experiences are so precious for kids and can range from a sleep over voucher from their aunty to a ticket to a show or a zoo pass, or a ‘ticket’ to go bush walking with dad. Create a tradition in your family that values time and adventures over things.

5.  Focus on fun instead of on gifts:

  • Party at the beach or a park, and make the venue the treat! Take togs towels and a big fat picnic basket, pack the cake and spread it all out on a picnic table. No need for plastic table cloths when you have seagulls to clean up afterwards!
  • Set up a craft table with paper and crayons.
  • Create fun places but putting up your tent on the lawn or a gazebo at the beach, and provide rugs and cushions for snuggling tent making children to play with.
  • Play musical chairs, hide and seek, tag and tree climbing instead of pass the parcel and other gift-based games.
  • For ‘transformation fun’ grab a few No Nasties packs and let the kids go wild with toxin free colours!
  • Hire an entertainer (and ask them not to bring any plastic). Such a treat and turns any party into an adventure.



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