English: Children's Museum & Theatre of Maine ...
English: Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine Birthday Party Room (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When you think of children’s birthday parties, you may get images of disposable tablecloths, plastic favors, paper plates and cups, and balloons. These fun events can be extremely wasteful. But children are often just as happy with home-made favors and reusable tablecloths. They just like time to play and eat cake! So let’s take a look at low-impact birthday party ideas that are big on fun and low on waste.

1. Decorations

Here is where you can get really creative. Children enjoy handmade decorations, both making and looking at them. Here are some ideas.

* Instead of rubber balloons, try setting up stations of eco-friendly bubble solution and large, reusable bubble wands. You can also get paper balloons that are more eco-friendly than rubber.

* Instead of plastic confetti, use a hole-punching tool on old magazines to make colorful circles and other shapes.

* Use flower blossoms, petals, or colorful leaves you gather yourself instead of confetti.

* Make flower chains, or recycle old magazines to make colorful paper chains.

2. Tables and Flatware

* Use an old sheet for the tablecloth, and let the party guests decorate it with fabric paint or markers. It will then be a keepsake.

* Instead of plastic or paper cups, plates and flatware, use washable ones. Again, creativity can go a long way in “covering” for your money saving – for example, have a car wash theme and serve your punch from a bucket (clean and food grade, of course), or serve drinks from a hanging pot (cauldron-style) for a Halloween theme.

3. Games, Themes, and Favors

Remember that children really love to play and run around. Adults tend to think that every unscheduled minute is a wasted minute, but your low-impact party will be remembered as one of the most fun ones ever if you hold it at a playground, park, or other place where kids can be kids.

* Go for a green theme. Let children plant garden plants, flowers, or trees for a seasonal birthday memory. If weather permits, hold the birthday party outdoors in a local park or state forest.

* Games do not need to involve paper, plastic, or other disposable items to be fun. Scavenger hunts (try a nature theme), tag, relay races, and other “old fashioned” games are perfect for a low-impact party.

* Host a “come as you are” party. This party theme does not involve paper invitations, making it even more eco-friendly. Each guest gets notified electronically or by phone at random times of the day, and whatever the prospective party guest is doing or wearing at that moment is how he or she must come to the party.

For example, if you call one of your guests at 9am and he is wearing pajamas, he wears those pajamas to the party. If the prospective guest is out walking her dog when you call, she must bring her dog and wear her walking clothes to the party. This is a really fun theme that can get everyone laughing.

* Favors can be home-made baked goods, potted seedlings or seed packets, or something children will treasure long term, like polished stones.

There are so many ways to celebrate birthdays without spending a lot of money or being wasteful.

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