You may already know that I’ve been working on and off as a children’s entertainer and storyteller for birthday parties for some time.

Recently, it’s surprised me how much plastic and waste is produced during a child’s birthday party.

After a good think, some research and discussions, I’ve created a few tips that could help cut back on plastic and reduce waste next time you host a children’s birthday party.

Spoons

Most children love fingers food at parties – it’s quick and easy for all ages to access. Recently, I’ve noticed plastic spoons being offered when there’s little need. If you need spoons, biodegradable spoons are available and are light and cheap. They are available in most supermarkets or start your online search here: https://www.littlecherry.co.uk/Canapes-Skewers-And-Picks/Wooden-Boats-Cups-And-Cones/

Cups and plates

Lots of plastic cups are used at parties. To avoid plastic, cornstarch cups are extremely cheap and biodegrade:
https://www.ethicalkidz.co.uk/shop/kids-parties/party-wares/compostable-cornstarch-drinks-cup/ I’ve also seen other biodegradable cups – 50 for around £10 on a quick online search. Some options can also be found in some supermarkets.

Biodegradable plates are also reasonably priced and widely available online and in some health food shops and supermarkets:
https://www.amazon.co.uk/slp/biodegradable-plates/oz83jb5afg4v7j8

Bio cups and plates, at the moment, seem to lack decoration compared to their not eco-alternatives. Some thoughts on this: I’ve never heard a child say the cups or plates were the highlight of a party. I think many children would prefer plain eat-ware that degrades, rather than their generation having to deal with more plastic in the future.

Another option is bamboo cups and plates. Bamboo is easy to clean and can be reused, saving money in the long run.

Top tip! In my opinion, small bottled drinks like fruit shoots create a lot of plastic waste – because they only contain a few mouthfuls children tend to go through two or three bottles. Thirty children can easily equal sixty bottles. Instead, buy large bottles of drink and replenish the same cup. Always have water available.

Napkins

I’ve noticed napkins are often placed on top of disposable plates and many children don’t know to remove this before piling their plate with food. They then reach for another napkin. Keeping napkins separate can reduce waste.

Crisps

Buying several large, sharable bags and putting these into reusable bowls creates less waste then giving each child an individual pack. Many children don’t finish their packet and a lot of food goes in the bin.

Leftovers

It’s hard to know how much food to provide for a party. Bring reusable containers with you so leftovers can be taken home. I’ve seen lots of edible food be binned because it arrived in cling film/single-use plastic and no one bought anything to take it home in.

Balloons

Latex is natural and degrades so choose latex balloons over foil, which don’t. Tissue paper pompoms or material bunting also look great for decorations and can be reused.

Top tip! Children are much more interested in playing with bubbles then balloons 🙂

What counts…

Lastly, science tells us we value experiences over gifts. I’ve seen many adults give more of their time (and money) to decorations and food prep than enjoying the party with their child. A child will likely find your involvement more memorable and valuable than the plates, balloons and decorations.

Any and all thoughts welcome! As I learn more, I’ll update this. I hope the above can help.

Jo