Zero waste doesn’t have to mean zero fun when it comes to planning a planet-friendly party with all the bells and whistles. From sending out invites to setting the scene, we have all the hip-hip-hooray hacks you’ll need.
WHY GO WASTE-FREE?
Well, why not? When you consciously choose to reduce your festivity’s footprint with our sustainable tips and suggestions, it's cause for a double celebration… of you AND the planet you love!
The excess and wastage associated with many milestone parties can really start to leave a bad taste in your mouth – think OTT weddings and celebrity-style baby showers. So why can't your everyday ethics of reducing waste be translated into a fantastic celebration that won’t cost the earth? When it comes to teaching our kids, birthdays are perfect opportunity to get creative and reinforce messages around sustainability.
Follow our super-easy guide and you’ll be partying like a waste-free family faster than you can say, ‘Pass the kale chips, Gary!’
E-VITE YOUR INVITES
Go digital and you’ll have yourself a zero-waste invitation, with guest numbers and even dietary info at your fingertips. Facebook is great for creating events, keeping track of RSVPs and notifying guests of any last-minute changes or weather emergencies. Other paperless options can be found at Paperless post and Evite.
When it’s a significant birthday or occasion, or your child is keen to hand out their invitations, a physical ‘be my guest’ may be in order. Time to get crafty and source recycled invitations or make your own, with your little one’s help.
Cut cereal or tea-bag box cardboard into cute shapes with a stencil. Re-use wrapping paper to cover the printed side and write the party details on the plain side. Colourful DIY envelopes can also be made by folding magazine pages.
GIFTS THAT KEEP ON GIVING
We’ve all been there – the party’s over, the face paint’s smeared and you’re surrounded by a bunch of semi-disposable plastic toys, wondering where they’ll fit and if they’ll even get used.
Why not use your invitation as a means of letting guests know you’re shooting for a waste-free shindig and clearly spell out your ethical gifting guidelines at the same time? After back-to-back weekends of kids’ parties, people usually appreciate the direction.
A complete no-gifts policy can be tricky with younger ones, who may not understand why their buddies have arrived empty-handed. Cue: meltdown!
Instead, suggest guests contribute to the main gift you are giving – like a surfboard or bicycle – something your child truly has their heart set on and is less likely to tire of.
Other non-consumable options include asking for donations (let your child pick a charity they feel strongly about), gift vouchers or ‘experiences’.
KEEP IT SMALL, SIMPLE & LOCAL
A more intimate gathering means fewer resources are consumed and less washing up is created! After an entire event filled with treats and prizes, do kids really need more treats, prizes and food in the form of a party-favour bag to take home? Choose NOT to drive great distances from home if you can find fun in your local neighbourhood. Decisions like these will contribute to reducing the footprint of your party.
Start by banning balloons, as they aren’t biodegradable and can end up in the stomachs of land and marine wildlife. Instead, make a visual impact with handmade bunting and birthday banners that can be re-used. Compostable decorations, such as flowers and leafy branches, are also beautiful and impactful.
Birthday banners –Paint hessian or an old sheet with 'Happy Birthday' and use year after year, or paint a more personalised message.
Bunting or garlands – A festive way to brighten up a party and reinforce your colour theme. Source fabric scraps from local charity stores and create fabric bows, tied tassel strips or flag shapes, or use vintage wallpaper or even wool pom-poms. There are loads of tutorials on Pinterest and YouTube to help.
Fairy lights– Get your money’s worth from those Christmas twinklers and string them around your party area. Candles are also fantastic ambience builders.
Popcorn garlands – These can be fun for kids to make (perhaps best for bigger kids as there will be needles involved!) and the popcorn can also be dyed to set the theme.
Leaf confetti – All you need is a hole punch, fallen leaves and a willing child eager to do all the picking up and punching! Also a great way to get kids outdoors and thinking creatively with nature.
Paper pom-poms – Recycle newspaper or use leftover gift wrap! Make them with this step-by-step guide.
Candles – Beeswax candles are a great option, and they’re a lot more cake friendly. Traditional candle wax is full of nasties and doesn’t taste that great when it melts over the cake (ugh!), so find beeswax candles at Eco Party Box.
Cake toppers - If you’re looking for the perfect cake topper, then perhaps use your child’s favourite play figurine (sanitised in some hot water first, of course!)
Centrepieces – Use native flora or fruit in a vase, like lemons or green apples, or just let the cake be the hero!
FEEDING TIME AT THE ZERO-WASTE ZOO
Don’t forget the enviro bags when you hit the shops and farmers’ markets for ingredients, and perhaps try packaging-free bulk food stores like The Source Bulk Foods. It’s so easy to get carried away and over cater in the spirit of generosity or by overestimating numbers, so keep it simple and remember kids are often more interested in running around than fancy finger food.
Check out these great low-waste options that are healthy and low on packaging, and we’ve included some of our favourite party food recipes too!
Veggie sticks with hummus & fresh guacamole
Fruit kebabs (use cookie cutters for cute shapes) and a drizzle of chocolate
Fruit salad cups (serve in Love Mae bamboo tumblers)
Choc-dipped frozen bananas
Popcorn (serve in Love Mae bamboo tumblers) and dust with sea salt, or try our favourite Coconut and Maple dusted Popcorn
Love Mae’s famous Meatless Meatballs & Sausage-Less Rolls
Dried fruit & snacks from a bulk foods store
Piggies in blankets
Use a large ceramic water dispenser (lemon slices, mint and berries can add a touch of pizazz) and encourage kids to refill their own drinks.
Iced fruit teas are a tasty step-up from plain water. Steep a caffeine-free teabag in 16 cups of boiling water for 5 minutes, add honey and chopped/crushed fruit, remove from heat and allow to cool before straining into a pitcher. Decorate with extra chopped fruit if desired.
Avoid disposable plastic cups or bottles and the packaging of individual boxed-juice drinks. Say NO to plastic straws and gather drinking vessels from your own cupboards, borrow from a friend or shop our sustainable bamboo tumblers here!
Glass Mason jars are a great option for older kids – they look cute and you can write their names on them with a washable marker.
LET THE PARTY BEGIN!
Time to cue the music and let your hair down! When it comes to party music for your wee ones, try this Kinderling House Party mix