Greening Up Children’s Parties

We just celebrated my daughter’s 5th birthday this past weekend. She had a crowd of classmates and cousins over; lots of fun, lots of little girls in Princess attire. But it did get me to thinking about how to keep a child’s party green yet kid fun and friendly.

We’re very much of the mind that a child’s party should be simple. We don’t plan a ton of activities, no inflatable jumper, etc. At this age children are very good at entertaining themselves. Just being together and playing with the toys we already have on hand satisfied them. As a matter of fact, the daughter of a mom who was surprised we hadn’t hired a “Princess” character for the party was apparently raving about all the fun she’d had.

We don’t theme things all that hard. This was a Princess party because we told the kids on the invitations that Princess attire was suggested. No Princess plates or decorations. Yes, we did get Princess tiaras and jewelry for the gift bags, but that’s as far as it went. Have to keep things fun for the kids, after all.

But you know, no child minded at all eating off plain paper plates. Not much choice about using paper plates; who has that many reusable ones? Not us. But using plain ones means the excess won’t just go to waste. Instead they wait for the next party.

I do find it challenging to think of ways to make the party less about the things, especially when you’re talking about 5 year olds. Some of that just has to be accepted, as kids aren’t going to be all that concerned about the environment at a party. It’s more gifts, gifts, gifts, run, run, run, play, play, play, cake, cake, frosting!!

But we did make sure the recycle bin was right next to the trash, so that recycleables could be disposed of easily, and even had reasonable success with that.

And of course, I am curious about what others do to keep birthday parties fun for their kids, while keeping the waste to a minimum. Our main tactics were to use non-themed items so that everything could be used over, and paper preferred to plastic whenever possible. Add in a home-baked cake (more because it’s fun than anything else), a mix of healthy and not quite healthy snacks, and I think we did all right.

What kinds of things would you do?

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