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This article has been reprinted with kind permission from the Progressive Kid web site.

Planet Friendly Party Tips:

Making your child's party green is easy on the planet and easy to do. It's also good modelling for kids and other parents. Here are some Earth-smart ideas to help you get started.


  • Napkins - Use washable colorful fabric scraps from a fabric store to make fun, reuseable napkins. Or use recycled paper towels.
  • Tablecloth - Use an old sheet for a tablecloth that kids can decorate with markers. Reuse the sheet for other parties, making forts, or as a drop cloth.
  • Utensils, Plates, and Cups -  Avoid the problem of tablewear by serving finger food that can be placed on a napkin. If you need tablewear, use washable metal utensils, plates, and cups. Or provide recycled paper plates and cups and disposable utensils made from corn starch that compost in about half a year and biodegrade in a year and a half.

    Editors Note: In NZ, Potato Pak plates are available from Moore Wilson's and most good organic stores.

Food and Beverages:

  • Healthy and Organic - Serve as much organic, local, and in-season food as you can. It's better for the planet and your guests.
  • Finger Food - Serve food that doesn't require plates or utensils but can be placed on a napkin:
    •  cheese and crackers
    •  carrot sticks
    •  raisins
    •  peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
    •  hummus and corn chips
    •  yogurt tubes
    •  grapes and apple slices
    •  cupcakes or cookies


  • Homemade - Kids love to make things. Enlist your child's help in creating decorations out of cardboard, construction paper, and mural paper, for example, instead of investing in plastic-wrapped party streamers, banners, and balloons.
  • Theme Based - A themed party will dictate how it should be decorated. For example, an ocean party could have an undersea mural with green yarn seaweed tendrils hanging from the ceiling. A bird party could have painted cardboard trees cut from old refrigerator boxes. Visit Progressive Kid's Planet-Friendly Party Activities page for theme-based activity ideas.
  • Activity Focused - You can even make decorating the party an activity at the party. See our Planet-Friendly Party Activities page for more ideas on how to do that.
  • Balloon Free - Don't use balloons, which are fun but often end up in the ocean where they are frequently consumed by sea life. Animals such as sea turtles often die from balloons blocking their digestive systems. Flags made from fabric scraps make a good alternative, and decorating them is a fun party activity.


  • Themed - Create your party around a planet-friendly theme such as a particular ecosystem or animal species. Consider some of the following ideas and complement and support them with our Party Box party favors. Visit Progressive Kid's Planet-Friendly Party Activities page for many good ideas built around these themes:                                           
    •  Ocean Steward Party
    •  Forest Steward Party
    •  Music Party
    •  Artist Party
    • Bird Brains Part

  • Educational - Teach the kids something about animals or trees or ecosystems through your party activities.
  • Activist - Involve the kids in a party activity that does something worthwhile for the planet or teaches them something. For example, take kids to help at an animal shelter. Or plant trees together. Or take a nature walk.

One of the problems with birthday party gift giving is that kids end up with a bunch of things that they don't really need, don't really want, or already have. The reason for a party is not to amass gifts but to celebrate a life.

Consider these life-affirming alternative approaches to gift giving:

  • Gifts with Social Merit - Instead of asking guests for gifts, ask them to make a donation to a worthwhile organization, such as a local animal shelter or environmental organization. Your child probably has particular interests that lend themselves to such donations. For a kid who loves horses, a donation to a mustang rescue organization, for example, is perfect.
  • Personalized Gifts - A homemade gift can be the most meaningful and therefore most valued. Ask guests to make instead of buy something.
  • Carefully Selected Gifts - If there is something your child truly needs or has been wanting, or if you know people are going to bring gifts even if you ask them not to, help direct the gift giving to make sure it doesn't result in more waste. Ask people to make contributions toward the purchase of a particular item or set up a registry.

    Editor's note: Visit

Invitations and Thank You Cards:

  • Electronic - Send out electronic invitations to save paper.
  • Recycled - Alternatively, use recycled paper invitations and thank you cards. Even better, make them with your child out of throwaway items, like junk mail.

Party Favors:
Reinforce the learning and fun at your party by giving guests related party favors that leave them with something to think about.

  • Activity-Based - Have kids make something at the party that they then get to take home with them.
  • Quality and with Social MeritProgressiveKid Party Boxes include an informational card with 10 action steps for kids to take on a particular theme and several fun, theme-related party favours.                                 



party boxes

Progressive Kid

Be sure to check out the Progressive Kid web site for party favours packaged in recycled cardboard takeout boxes. And visit their Planet-Friendly Party Activities page for creative party ideas on environmentally friendly themes.                    

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