If you are doing your best to make sustainable choices as you wing it through life, the thought of a child’s birthday or Christmas might leave you in a bit of a quandary.
Do you throw caution to the wind as it’s just one celebration once a year; how much impact on the planet can one little birthday make? Do you think “well, they’re worth it, they deserve the very best and if that’s being excessive for a day a year then do be it…” Or do you read this post and think about how the choices you make every day have an impact on the planet and a birthday celebration is a great excuse to strengthen your values?
If it’s the latter, then you’ve come to the right place 😀
But please don’t worry about this being a militant rant about how we are killing the planet one plastic party plate at a time. I am far from Basingstoke’s answer to Greta Thunberg. Expect a few simple suggestions about how to make sustainable choices for birthdays, Christmas and celebrations all year round.
Recently, we celebrated our daughter, Indi’s birthday with a little family party. At Indi’s age she doesn’t have a huge guest list, so we were happy to keep it small. But for various reasons, more intimate parties can tick a lot of boxes:
- It can become expensive to throw parties, and the more guests, the more cost
- It’s a lot of effort to organise the guest list
- The more people you invite, the more you have to think about the entertainment
- You may have to hire a venue which will need decorating
- You have to buy more food and drinks
- There can be a lot of food waste after a large party
- There can be a lot of wrapping paper and packaging from gift giving
I’m all for parties, and I love to entertain, but as a full-time working mum of 3, parties can become stressful additions to my calendar. Keeping the party small worked for us this time and so we went with it.
And, we had 6 family birthdays in the first week of November, so as you can imagine, November is an expensive month for us, especially with Christmas around the corner! However, those who want a bigger celebration may look for an event venue that can accommodate the guests and all the activities you’re planning.
Establish your go-to sustainable party suppliers
If you’re trying to make eco-friendly choices, rather than using the next day delivery service we all know and love in a blind panic the day before the party, doing some research into sustainable party supplies well in advance of the party is a must.
You don’t have to do this every time a birthday or celebration comes around, but if you know where to shop for eco-friendly party supplies then it makes it an easy decision for the next event. Better still, buy in bulk and store enough supplies for the year’s parties and you’re well away!
Consider the environmental impact of your food and drink offerings
This is one of the biggest areas you can lower your environmental impact.
It’s likely you’ll supply food and drink at a party, but if the party is short enough not to, that is the best option!
However, if you can’t resist serving a beautiful spread for your guests then there are some great ways to save on plastic and packaging of traditional buffet foods.
Firstly, use menu planning to the planet’s advantage
Make some time before the party to plan out what to serve. But don’t make a list of the traditional party foods that are typically in plastic packaging. Yes, they are super-convenient, but this is your chance to think differently and make better choices with the items you buy.
I’m thinking, go to your local farm shop and get inspired. There is no need to browse the aisles of a supermarket picking up all the plastic-wrapped goodies. Instead, use the farm shop’s cheese counter, butcher, fresh produce, fruit and veg. Get to know your local refill shop (they’re popping up all over the country now) and see if they can help you plan a party based on their packaging-free offerings.
And perhaps, Instead of offering a buffet at all, a simple chilli and jacket potato meal can be an easy eco option for a party. Or, serving up a stream of homemade pizzas – that’s a great one for a Christmas party!
What you serve your food on matters
Don’t get fooled into thinking that the traditional disposable party supplies at the supermarket are your only option. Paper plates wrapped in plastic, I mean, come on! Plastic cups… just no.
There are so many affordable options for sustainable party supplies to choose from.
My friends at Foogo Green provide beautiful, compostable plates, cutlery, platters, bowls and straws. They look great alongside your buffet table, (or even your Christmas table), and they are a brilliant talking point. Not once has someone picked up one of their plates and not asked what the plate is made of. Some guests also agreed that they were too good to be single-use so we reused some for a camping trip where they also encourage campers to be as eco friendly as possible!
And finally, consider switching the traditional party bag tat for something more meaningful
I usually give party bags, but this time I didn’t. But that’s not for the planet, I actually forgot. Plus we only had 6 children as guests, 3 being my own, so I didn’t feel too guilty and the children didn’t even notice in the end!
Anyway, if you’d like to give party bags to guests, there are a few sustainable alternatives to think about.
Especially books about the planet to inspire little humans to be eco-friendly themselves.
A little pack of eco-friendly pencils, and colouring pages on recycled paper.
Think little wooden building blocks, puzzles and games. These will last longer than the traditional plastic offerings.
How to make your family birthday and Christmas parties sustainable
So there you have it, a few new ways to be more eco friendly when celebrating those you love. We’ve covered guest lists, meal prep, party supplies, and party bags, but there is so much more you can do. This post only scratched the surface so I will be back with part 2 soon!