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How to Find Eco Friendly Birthday Party Favors

How to Find Eco Friendly Birthday Party Favors

My kids love having birthday parties with their friends, and they especially love picking out party favors. Personally, I’m royally tired of the standard plastic favors that only last a day or two before breaking that kids get at most parties they attend. I think my kids have received most of them at one party or another, and the favors are usually junk.

Now, the easiest solution to all this is to simply skip the whole party favor thing. It’s the most eco friendly solution too. But if you or your kids aren’t ready to give up on the concept of party favors, you can at least try to make them more eco friendly. It’s possible, and you can even keep the costs down.

Homemade Treats

If you’re the kind who likes to make treats, these can be wonderful party favors… just be sure you know about any allergies or sensitivities to take into consideration. Popcorn is often popular with kids, although there are GMO considerations. You can make homemade cookies, brownies, chocolates, candies, whatever you like to make.

Flower/Seed Pots

This can be a party activity and favor all in one. Have the kids paint or otherwise decorate their pots early on in the party, so that any paint or glue has time to dry. Later on, have the kids plant seeds or small plants you have ready for them. Make sure parents know in advance that the kids might get messy!

Homemade Play Dough

Homemade play dough is easy to make and lots of fun for the kids. Have a little fun with it and add some glitter – kids love sparkling play dough. Here’s a basic recipe:

2-1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup salt
1 tbs cream of tartar (optional but helpful)
1-1/2 cups hot water
3 tbs cooking oil
Food coloring
Glitter (optional but pretty)

Combine all dry ingredients. Separate into one container per color, then add oil (estimate amount per color) and food coloring as desired. Add hot water slowly, and mix by hand until the consistency is right. Add a little more flour or salt if the dough gets too wet. Put into sealed containers for each child.

Decorate T-shirts

Decorating t-shirts can be a lot of fun, but potentially messy, so make sure parents get advance warning. You can use t-shirt paints, Sharpie markers, tie dye kits or anything else you like that works on shirts. My kids like to draw on shirts with Sharpie marker with sections of the shirt pulled tight over a container, then drop rubbing alcohol over the design to make it spread. This is best as an outdoor activity, as the alcohol really stinks!

To make it more eco friendly, look for organic cotton t-shirts and other eco friendly supplies.


For younger kids, crayons are a nice treat. You can give them brand new ones or melt old, broken crayons into molds for a more interesting look.


Pick an eco-friendly craft that is age appropriate for the kids. You may even be able to find ideas to go with any party theme you’ve chosen. Give the kids the supplies early on and let them go at it. Make sure you have a place for everything to dry after that is visible enough that you won’t forget to have the kids take their projects home.

Homemade Bath Bombs/Salts

This can be a fun activity for older kids or teens. Get the supplies to make some bath bombs or salts. Salts are usually easier because you don’t have to worry about how long they need to dry out.

Rocks, Fossils, Coins

This is a favorite of my kids. I go to ebay.com and find tumbled rocks, foreign coins, fossils, etc. for party favors. It’s great if you have a treasure hunt theme. The quick way to give these to the kids is to fill containers with treasure and sandbox sand, then have each kid sift out their treasure. This is best for younger kids who might get upset over unequal distributions or who might not have the patience for an actual treasure hunt.

For older kids, consider an actual treasure hunt. Hide the treasure, and give them clues to find it. Make sure you find a way to limit how much treasure each one gets, or hide the treasure in a different location for each, and warn the kids not to take treasure that doesn’t come from one of their clues. You can also mark each one with a color or logo so that everyone knows which treasure is theirs. You don’t want the fastest kid to get an excessive share of the prizes.

Favors From Eco Friendly Sites

Check out some of the websites that offer eco friendly party supplies and favors.


Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

How to Green a Child’s Birthday Party

Birthday parties for kids have turned into something of an environmental nightmare in a lot of ways. All the paper used once and thrown away, plastic toys given not only to the birthday boy or girl, but often to every guest, the competition in many areas for each family to outdo the one before.

It gets pretty ugly.

The challenge is that it’s not a comfortable thing telling people what they should give for gifts. It pretty much goes against the usual etiquette. Registration for birthday presents isn’t all that common yet, so it can be difficult to get the idea across.

One thing I have noticed, however, is that if you make the theme clear on the invitation, at least some of the guests will bring gifts relevant to that theme. Declare a gardening theme and your child is likely to get at least some garden tools and seeds as gifts. Just think about what kinds of gifts would be welcome and try to figure out a theme relevant to it to have a shot at welcome gifts without telling your guests what kinds of things to buy directly.

Of course, if you’re comfortable putting on the invitations that you want a particular kind of gift, charitable donation or no gifts at all, do so. I know many people are glad to know what kinds of things to buy, etiquette or no.

I’ve always been a believer in keeping things simple. No buying themed paper plates, napkins, cups, gift baggies, etc. No renting bounce houses. Invite the kids and tell them to go play when they get there. Organize them only for things like opening presents and cutting cake. Children don’t need all that much direction to have fun.

Healthy food and kids can be a challenge, but it’s not impossible.  Believe it or not, many children do like vegetables pretty well. It helps if you provide dip for those that want it, but if you can keep the food healthy, organic and/or local, you’re a step ahead of the game.

Depending on the age group, the cake can be another target. I’ve noticed that most kids don’t like cake so much; they like frosting. Just look around at any child’s birthday party and notice how many pieces of cake are stripped of frosting but otherwise untouched. If the birthday boy or girl is agreeable, you may want to substitute cookies or another treat that will actually be eaten.

Gift wrap can be a pain, but at least some of it can be reused. We always save any gift bags used, so that they see at least a second use before someone else disposes of them. Wrapping paper is more challenging, but many types can now be recycled at the very least. Or you may be able to come up with craft ideas for some of the more interesting papers.

Those little gift baggies that are pretty much an expectation anymore are one of the big challenges to a green birthday party. They’re often plastic, filled with more plastic toys that will last a couple of days tops, as a rule. Not ideal by a long shot.

My own recommendation is to get a bit more creative. Get some little pots, soil and seeds and have the kids plant something. Flowers, tomatoes, whatever. It’s an activity combined with a gift for those attending the party.

Or if you want to do gift bags, think about fabric ones. If you sew you can make some quickly out of scrap cloth, or just buy some inexpensive ones. Fill them with things that will last better than the plastic junk you see most of the time, or some snacks.

You may be surprised at how much you can do to cut back on the waste generated by birthday parties. You may only have limited control over what your guests bring, but you can certainly decide what you will do for your part.