How to have a less wasteful party
I’ve tittled this “less wasteful” as this shouldn’t feel daunting. Even adopting a few of these ideas will make a difference.
Here are my top tips for having a less wasteful party.
D E C O R A T I O N S
I know kids love balloons. My 3 year old adores balloons (it kills me). But I have attended many parties without them.. and guess what? No one noticed. These were preschool age parties and so I understand that older children will have more requests and set ideas on decor. So here are my two suggestions.
1- talk to your child about why balloons are not ideal for our environment and how they pose a risk to birdlife etc and see if this brings them around. Have other cool suggestions on hand like bunting or lanterns
2- buy compostable balloons and keep them indoors and well secured to reduce the risk of them getting into the environment. Then cut them up and compost at home. I've not actually tried this myself, but I suspect they will take some time to break down even in a compost bin, which is why we still need to ensure they dont get into the environment where birds mistake them for food.
Great alternatives are fabric or paper bunting. Anything you can reuse such as lights, paper lanterns and chalkboard signs. Consider hiring, borrowing or purchasing second hand what you can.
F O O D
Some really simple ideas if you're short on time are a sausage sizzle or pizza. You can get a bunch of sausages and bread from you butcher and baker with your own containers/ bags. Order in pizzas and compost the boxes.
If you can make the time, head to the bulk bin store with your jars and stock up on snacks like pretzels, dried fruit, popcorn kernals, sweets and nuts. Using your own produce bags for fruit and vege means you can create platters or kebabs without waste. If you’re a little more ambitious then baking and cooking yourself with a little help from Pinterest will certainly reduce your waste. Finger foods help reduce the need for cutlery and too many plates. Use platters that will fit in your dishwasher or create a grazing platter on a roll of paper you can compost after. At my sons last party I dampened down some flannels and popped them on the table during cake eating as parents will automatically grab wet wipes for sticky fingers and faces.
G I F T S
Be up front with your guests about your values. Don’t be afraid to tell them that your family is trying to be more conscious of the environment and to keep that in mind if they’d like to bring a gift. Make suggestions such as vouchers for experiences or a contribution to a big ticket item your child is saving for. Look up “fiver party” for a great idea regarding guests bringing monetary gifts.
T H E M E S
My biggest advice here is to make the cake the star of the theme. Two birds one stone. Consider what will happen to the themed items after the party and try your best to find alternatives if the only answer is landfill. Again look to hire, borrow, buy second hand and if you don’t want to keep the items then sell or gift on. Facebook community groups are great for this.
E N T E R T A I N M E N T
If you feel entertainment is required then again consider what you’ll be left with in terms of rubbish or "plastic crap" that will break easily and be chucked.
-Face painters or entertainers such as super hero’s or magicians can be cool if your budget allows. Don’t be afraid to discuss with them prior about your waste free status so they can sub out things like glitter, confetti and plastic wrapped sweets.
-Hire a bouncy castle.
-Put out sports equipment.
-Alter traditional games like the pass the parcel to be waste free by using fabric or newspaper and include prizes that are better quality such as wooden trinkets, homemade sweets, hair accessories, bouncy balls and colouring pencils/crayons.
-Sack races, egg and spoon races, dance competitions and statues are all hilarious and waste free.
-For smaller parties try a craft idea that kids can take home after.
D I S P O S A B L E T A B L E W A R E
There has been a shift towards using paper plates and cups because they’re seen as more “eco friendly”. Let me tell you why they’re no better than plastic. Generally they can’t be recycled. This is for two reasons, they’re too dirty (and if you were happy to wash and dry plates you wouldn’t be using disposable) and they’re often made from a mixture of plastic and paper (like coffee cups) which means they can’t be recycled.
The obvious choice would be to outsource to the likes of me, who’ll provide the tableware and all you need to do is box it back up and I’ll wash it. Another easy option is to borrow from friends and family if you don’t have enough or you could head to your local charity shop and buy extra tableware cheaply then re-donate afterwards if you don't want to store it.
R U B B I S H S O R T I N G
For my sons last birthday I set up a small waste station with simple signage. There was a bin for recycling, for food waste and for compost. I put basic instructions under the compost bucket such as “paper napkins and kebab sticks”. This is mainly for the adults as most kids just leave things as they are but it’s a great conversation starter for all ages about what happens to our waste and how best to dispose of it. I have a bokashi system for food waste but it’s not suitable for paper products so hence the seperate compost bin.
With a little thought and forward planning, it’s absolutely possible to reduce your waste when hosting celebrations and also a great opportunity to educate our guests on managing waste. Our actions have a ripple effect, so demonstrating to others that we are doing our small bit to reverse the dire situation our planet is facing will perhaps evoke a thought in others that they need to start making changes too.