Hooo weee! Can’t kids’ birthday parties be just a little bit crazy?? The food; the gifts; the decorations… it can all just get a bit out of hand. Doesn’t Pinterest have a lot to answer for?!? And sustainable? Hmmm… not so much! But look: it doesn’t have to be that way. With a bit of thought, you have sustainable birthday parties that everyone will love. Here are some ideas that might help inspire you!

Food, food and more food

Less is… well, less

Here’s the first thing I reckon about kids’ birthday parties – it’s really easy to over-cater. Through many over-supplied birthday parties, I have discovered that kids will eat less than you think – especially young children. How about just choosing 3-4 foods and sticking with that? If you can avoid majorly over-catering, you can also avoid the waste that goes with that.

It doesn’t have to be all chips and lollies

Sometimes it seems that all ‘special’ food is food that’s not great for you. It doesn’t have to be like that! Arranging fruit on skewers or using a cookie cutter to cut out shapes can be a lovely way to turn fruit into something special. Jellies bought from the supermarket are full of sugar and food colouring but it’s amazingly simple to make fruit jellies at home. Just stew up a bit of fruit – try raspberries for red; plums for purple; apple for yellow and then strain out the fruit (or puree it up), stir in some gelatin and you’ve got some delicious jelly without the artificial colouring!

There are lots of things that you can easily make at home without spending heaps of money or going crazy on sugar and food colouring. Some other ideas:

  • Homemade chicken or fish nibbles – just chop up some chicken or fish and crumb it. You can use polenta or gluten free bread crumbs to crumb the nibbles if you have a child with gluten allergies.
  • Popcorn is cheap, easy to make and kids love it!
  • How about pikelets? They’re quick to make and you can easily adjust the recipe if you have children coming with allergies. They’re fun to make into different shapes and you can put loads of different toppings on them.
  • Look for low sugar drinks like the new Just Juice range that uses stevia.

Ah… the gifts

What goes out

There are two kinds of gifts at children’s parties – those that come in and those that go out. I’m going to come right out and confess now: we don’t do party bags. Yes, I know – call the Birthday Party Police now. But honestly, who needs another bag of stuff that lasts for five minutes? I know loads of lovely mamas who put time and energy into putting together beautiful, thoughtful party bags but it’s just not my style, so we avoid it altogether.

If you are keen on party bags, how about including things that can be used up – bubbles; craft supplies; hair ties… all of these things are useful and bound to get used!

And I reckon that we shouldn’t be afraid to recycle wrapping for kids’ parties! The kids barely look at the paper so why not keep anything that survives unwrapping and use it for the next party you go to? I know people who use their children’s paintings for wrapping paper – a lovely, personal touch and a great way to use some of those painting that are lying around!  Same goes for cards. A homemade card is lovely and it doesn’t need to involve hours of work. How about a collage of images cut up from cards you have at home?

What comes in

The other side of gifts is what comes in. People can be so kind and generous when it comes to small fry and it’s always nice to both give and get gifts that are appropriate. When it comes to gifts, don’t be afraid to ask what the child needs or would like, and don’t be afraid to give suggestions when asked. You could make the party a particular theme so that people know what your child is interested in or even put a few suggestions on the invitation. My favourite gifts at the moment are craft and science kits. They’re not expensive (and often on sale!), are engaging for kids and a great way to spend time with your child.

Plates and cups

I’m not sure why, but for a while, we got into the habit of buying cups and plates for our kids’ parties. Then I realised that we actually have a lovely collection of coloured plates and cups that we use every day. This year, we made use of what we had instead of buying stuff that we were just going to throw away. If you’re looking for something a bit different than your usual gear, it might be that you have a friend who can loan you some plates and cups for the day – a nice way to have something different without having to buy anything!

If you are planning on buying plates and cups, try looking for paper, rather than plastic or consider some of the recyclable options that you can now buy.

Anyway, there are some ideas for creating more sustainable birthday parties for your kids. Of course, there are heaps more things you can do and I’d love to hear your thoughts about anything you do to make your parties sustainable! 

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Rochelle is mum to three gorgeous daughters. She wishes she had more time to garden and read the newspaper in peace!

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