Having two children aged 8 and 11 I have hosted and attended my fair share of kids birthday parties. From intimate small home ones to 'whole class' crazy playcentre ones, birthdays are such joyous occasions and something that lives on for years after through memories, photos, videos, gifts and stories!
From invites to party bags, hosting an eco-friendly and gardening-themed birthday party for kids can be as simple as you want it and doesn't have to cost the Earth.
Here are my suggestions on how you can easily incorporate eco and gardening aspects to your mini gardener birthday party.
It has become increasingly popular to do digital invites rather than paper ones. I think the fact that it is cheaper and easier to use digital and social media platforms to message all the parents is probably the main driver rather than a clear environmental statement. For me personally, the main benefit of digital invites is the fact that I can't lose them or type in the wrong number when responding (don't ask....). However, saving a few trees is massive thumbs up too! Also, digital invites don't have to be boring and a separate file can easily be created using free platforms like Canva and then attached to the invite.
If you prefer to use paper invites, using recycled paper is a more eco-friendly option and if your party is nature-themed you could even print the invitation text on seed paper (seed paper is made with embedded wildflower, herb or vegetable seeds) so it can be planted after the party.
Decorations and sundries
If you are hosting the party at an external venue e.g. at play or activity centre, you might not have much control over how eco-friendly the decorations and sundries (plates, cups etc.) are. However, if you do have decision power over them, there is lots you can do to have a more eco-friendly party.
Single-use plastic plates and cups, and balloons can easily be substituted with greener options. It is pretty easy to pick up paper or bamboo plates and cups from most supermarkets or you can invest in some reusable sundries that can be utilised not just during the party but when eating outdoors or when other children are visiting. Fabric or pompom bunting and reusable paper decorations such as fans and large pompoms can turn any space from normal to special in a matter of moments. They can be bought, made, hired and can be reused time and time again.
If you are planning to run activities to keep the children entertained, there is much fun to be had both outdoors and indoors.
Nature themed scavenger hunts are fun for children of all ages and can be made more interesting for older children with the use of riddles or puzzles to be solved before finding the next item. Prizes at the end are a must to keep them all focused till the end!
If your mini gardener loves arts and crafts, natural elements can easily be added to most artistic activities. For example you can create pictures with pressed/dried flowers, using natural dyes or rubbing leaves and petals or painting with plant brushes (any twig with leaves will do). Flowers and leaves can also be used to inprint into salt dough or clay, stamp on paper or fabric and can be incorporated into a weaving pattern. All these activities also give the children something lovely to take home and a momento of the party.
For those who feel brave, getting each child to create a small terrarrium with a theme that your mini gardener is into (e.g. fairy, dinosaur, farm yard) can be great fun. It does require a fair amount of preparation and purchasing the containers and props from second hand shops can be both good for your wallet and the environment. You might want to include some instructions on how to keep the terrarium alive after the party to help the other parents.
Thank you bags
Regardless of whether you have hosted the party or it has been held at a play or activity centre, 'thank you' bags are usually one of the staples of most birthday parties. Unfortunately, it is not always easy or cheap to find alternatives to the plastic toys that usually feature in the bags and they realistically don't tend to last more than 5 minutes.
If the mini guest has created something during the party, the item can be included as a 'thank you' to take home together with a slice of yummy birthday cake. However, there are many fun eco-friendly and nature/gardening-themed options too. It is quite easy to order online small seed bags that have been personalised for the birthday, or 'thank you' matchboxes of seedballs. These could be coupled with colourful bamboo eco-pots and soil disks to make a nice 'ready to sow' party favour.
Mini Packs from Little Robin Education contain 6 nature-themed cards (activities, flashcards and info cards) that are also a great way to say thank you to the guests and will inspire them to go out and explore nature.
Another lovely party favour idea is filling two small craft paper bags (those often used for cash gifts) with bird seeds and suet respectively and presenting them with a cookie cutter and instructions on how to make a birdseed ornament to hang outside for birds to feed on.
Hosting an eco-friendly kids birthday party can be lots of fun and I hope these ideas have inspired you to give it a go.
I'd love to hear from you and learn about other eco-friendly or gardening party experiences so feel free to share them on our social media accounts or in the comments below.