How to have a more Eco Friendly Children’s birthday Party

AD As a parent we want our children to have the best possible time on their birthday. We want their party to be fun and happy so it’s easy to go all out buying things that will only be used for a couple of hours. Without removing any of the fun what are the options for a more eco-friendly children's party though? There are lots of great alternatives that are bright, cheerful and fun for everything from the decorations and games to party bags. 

 Post contains some affiliate links.

A 3rd birthday party with reusable plates to eat the party food off as an example of an eco-friendly swap for children's parties
A more eco-friendly birthday party can be just as colourful and fun

More Eco Friendly Alternatives For Children’s Birthday Parties

Here are lots of ideas for how you can make your children’s party more eco friendly, but remember it isn’t just about the products used, how you dispose of them at the end plays an important part. If everything is scooped up and put in a black bag then it won’t get recycled, reused or composted, it all goes to landfill or incinerated which isn’t very eco-friendly regardless of what was in there. 


Children might squeak with delight as they go into a room full of balloons, but there is a good chance that beyond the initial wow they won’t care about an amazing balloon arch or display. They love to throw the balloons around and to bounce on them and it is all great until one pops, but they will be just as happy with balls and they are less likely to go bang.

Eco Friendly Birthday Party Decorations

Latex balloons (whether filled with helium or normal air) are supposedly biodegradable in an industrial composters, but there is some debate about accuracy of studies. If you want to use them keep numbers to a minimum, keep them inside so they don't blow away and ideally cut them up before putting into a food waste bin to be taken away for industrial processing rather than household or commercial waste.

You can get great paper decorations that are bright and reusable. With options like garlands to honeycomb balls and bunting there is lots of choice. We bring out the same decorations each year and my children get excited each time.

Bubbles are fun addition to parties and children love to run around popping them, but they are best for outside use because wet, slippy floors and party shoes aren’t a great mix.

decopompoms on Etsy honeycomb garland party decoration
Paper decorations from Decopompom on Etsy (Affiliate link)

Plates and Cups

Paper plates and cups might seem like a good eco choice, but they can’t be recycled once they have had food on them and if they have a thin plastic layer to  make them shiny and look nicer they won’t be biodegradable either. If putting in the black bin bags paper is better than plastic plates and cups, but the best choice is reusable.

Ikea have plastic plates, bowls, cups and cutlery that are good enough quality that they will last for ages so they can be used party after party after party. Yes they will need washing up, but that’s a small amount of inconvenience to reduce the long term impact of the party. Take a washing up bowl to stack all the dirty bits in for taking home. There are some companies that even hire out tableware if you don’t think you will use it more than a couple of times, look online or Facebook for companies close to you.

Glitter Tattoos

A glitter tattoo station and face painting are a popular choice at birthday parties. Face paint often gets smudged onto party clothes and most glitter isn’t a great choice due to the the small plastic pieces, but there is a better option. 

Switch To Biodegradable Glitter Tattoos

A good alternative to normal glitter tattoo is a kit which comes with cosmetic grade biodegradable glitter: the larger kits from Glitterify Me. Each set comes with glue, 8 glitter colours, 48 stencils and 2 brushes. These kits are safety tested and stay on much longer than normal glitter tattoos. Look at the stencil options in each kit to ensure they are age appropriate. Check out this post for tips on applying the long lasting glitter tattoos or enter to win a kit at the end of this post.

Close up of a large glitter tattoo stencil from Glitterify Me
The Glitterify Me Biodegradable Tattoo Kits have a range of different size stencils

A glitter tattoo with biodegradable glitter in purple next to some flowers
The Glitterify Me glitter tattoos can stay on for over a week

Party Games

What is a children’s party without party games? Lots of games don’t require any props like: musical statues; Simon Says; duck, duck, goose; Sleeping lions… but Pass the Parcel is a popular game which also helps encourage turn taking in little ones. 

Eco Friendly Pass The Parcel

You can wrap each layer in recyclable paper (and ensure it goes in recycling) or for a time saving and reusable option you can buy Pass the Parcel bags made from fabric where each bag goes inside another bag. Be sure to put a sweet between each layer and to give every child a turn to minimise tears. The best approach is to have one more layer than the number of children so that each child gets to open a layer (stop the music in planned places) and then stop the music without looking on the last go to get a winner at random. For large parties you could have two parcels going round at once.

Party Bags

It is really tempting to give children a bag of exciting bits of plastic at the end of the party and they do absolutely love investigating and playing with them for all of 5 minutes, but the toys tend to break quickly and those that don’t are mostly forgotten about by the time they get home.

Eco Friendly Swaps for Party Bags

A sweet stall: have bowls of sweets and prongs (these can be provided by local businesses or bought in bulk) and give each child a paper bag to fill up. 

Books: You can buy low cost children's books from pound shops or The Works or sets of books online so they work out as around £1 each. Make it more eco-friendly by not wrapping the books and let children choose which one they want (this stops them getting a duplicate too)

Flowers: An interesting idea is to give each child a plant to take home, depending on the time of year this could be a mini Christmas tree, flowers or maybe a Strawberry plant. With a little more prep you can give each child a kit to grow their own flower or vegetables including a pot, compost and seeds. 

A child in a party dress holding biodegradable glitter tattoo kit gifted from Glitterify Me
Biodegradable Glitter Tattoo Kit gifted by Gliterify Me

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