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How To Plan An Eco-Friendly Child's Birthday Party (with Free Checklist)

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Hey, mama. I need to point out the obvious real quick. Sometimes we (and by we I mostly mean me) make green living more complicated than it needs to be. A natural lifestyle should, after all, come naturally. It’s simple. So shouldn’t it also be simple to celebrate an eco-friendly birthday party without a bunch of noise?

The truth is that our culture has a disposable mindset and an obsession with consumerism. So that in and of itself makes it tough to live green and natural, which trickles down into the events we plan and celebrate with our friends and family.

Do me a favor and think of the last child’s party you attended. How many garbage bags of wrapping paper, ties, cutlery and the like was left in the post-party carnage? Too many. Most of which are stuffed with trash that isn’t recyclable because of the laminates, glitter, and dyes.

Next there’s all the new plastic toys that the birthday kiddo received. What do you think the long-term impact of batteries and all that molded plastic will be? So many of those toys will never, ever break down in a landfill. That’s a fact. And many of them came from China and are loaded with plastic toxins. That’s an even grosser fact. I wrote about these wake-me-up truths in another post about how to green and simplify your playroom.

Social media and TV shows down right glamorize over-the-top, perfectly coordinated, ornately detailed birthdays, giving your child the misconceived notion that a bigger party is a better party... That’s not the mindset I want to instill in my kids.

The mindset I want to instill in my children is simple:

eco friendly children's birthday party

So what’s a crunchy, tree-hugging mama to do?


When hosting an eco-friendly child’s birthday party, it all comes back to keeping things SIMPLE. The tips I’m sharing in today’s blog will help you turn a conventional birthday party on its head while allowing you to get your green living on!



During the planning stages of a party, you’ll want to send out invites. Ditch the paper invites and send a text or email invite instead. E-invitations can also be personalized, so you can make them look the way you want without having to waste much time or money. Not only does this cut down on disposable waste, but you’ll be able to get your headcount together much quicker!

However, if you DO want to send a physical invite… Invest in some invitations from brands like Paper Culture who print their invitations on 100% post-consumer recycled paper. Meaning no new trees are cut down for your invitations. Plus, just like Smiling Tree ToysPaper Culture plants one tree with the purchase of every order. It’s a win-win!

To encourage gift-givers to carry the eco-friendly emphasis of your party through to the gifts your child receives, be sure to grab our clever rhyme for requesting plastic-free toys for birthday parties.



One of the most resource-intensive items with the shortest life span at a birthday party is the decorations. So let’s talk decorations! The best type of decor isn’t going to end up in a landfill; it’s going to be eye-catching, memorable, and reusable.. 

Let’s forego the cheapo $1 “Happy Birthday” banner that’ll sit in the landfill for the next 50-100 years after it’s single moment of glory at your party. Instead, think unique, naturally beautiful, long-lasting, and still affordable.

Celebrate your loved one's special day with our beautiful "Happy Birthday" wall bunting! Our wooden wall buntings are crafted using high quality, walnut and maple contrasting woods featuring two engraved pennant flag accents on each side. Space the letters and hang to your liking in that special spot in your home, outside, or wherever you’re hosting your child’s birthday party. 

I really love Eco Party Time’s goal to offer consumers “the affordable substitutes for non-recyclable plastic trinkets that end up in landfills during celebrations.” They offer a wide variety of party favors and decorations to suit any party’s theme and budget.

Another great idea to reduce party waste is to use REAL plates, cups, and silverware. There’s gotta be at least a few party goers who feel the same and will be happy to help with dishes. If this isn’t feasible and you must go disposable, be sure to choose a bamboo or a compostable plant-based option. And please, please, please, avoid Styrofoam at all costs!

Amazon has a ton of options when it comes to bio-compostable plates and utensils. Check those out HERE.



Alright so between you and me... Do your kids really need ANOTHER sheet of tattoos or a tiny jar of bubbles that inevitably ends up in someone’s hair, eyes, or mouth? We all know that a child’s birthday party goody bag is generally filled with cheap, plastic toys that are the epitome of unnecessary consumption.

Rather than feeding the consumerism monster, instead choose a single party favor that you’ll see others enjoying long after the party ends.  My kids’ friends love receiving personalized zipper charms at our parties.

Every Smiling Tree Zipper Charm features an animal alphabet letter on the front with optional engraving on the back. We add high quality key rings to create special little name and ID tags for kids' coats, sweatshirts, backpacks, lunch boxes, and luggage. Our personalized zipper pulls are just the right size for easy grasping and zipping!  Plus, we plant a tree in honor of every zipper charm we make.

It’ll be one party favor that kids (and their parents) will truly love to receive!


Does your child need another 15 toys? The answer you have in your mind right now is most likely no. If you’re not sure  how to politely request plastic free toys, just do it! Here’s a tip if you’re worried that requesting particular toys is selfish or snotty: The next time you want to ask for plastic-free toys, try to frame it within the larger picture. You’re not making this request solely for the benefit of you and your family. Going plastic free is also about the earth and preserving the environment for the same little ones who’ll be enjoying the toys their given.


eco friendly birthday party

For your drinks - I love, love, love the idea of refilling old jam jars with juice or homemade tea and keeping them cold in an ice-filled pail until ready to serve. This is such a great way to keep the party unique while cutting down on waste!

Go fresh over pre-packaged - One of the biggest sources of waste at birthday parties is food, and this is where you can easily go eco-friendly. Consider buying fresh ingredients instead of packaged foods. Instead of buying frozen vegetables, go to your local farmer’s market and purchase everything fresh. I know these ingredients may be more time-consuming to prepare, but they are much more eco-friendly and much more nutritious than their frozen counterparts.

The cake - Consider baking your child’s cake at home. I mention this because when you order a cake from a bakery, you never know how wasteful the baker is with the scraps of your cake and other ingredients involved. Baking cake at home is the best way to ensure nothing goes to waste! Use leftover cake, fondant, and frosting by turning them into cake pops for party goers to take home.


eco friendly kids birthday

Don’t overplan this one. Most of the time, the kids will be entertaining themselves, especially if they can go outside for some of the party. If you need to structure some fun, however, there are plenty of games you can play using materials already available at the party. Consider using the chairs to play musical chairs. You can also use music (on anyone’s smartphone) to play dancing games like freeze dance or hot potato.

Children also love chalk, so let them draw or play hopscotch. Another fun idea is to DIY your own recycled piñata! Learn how to create a DIY eco-friendly piñata HERE.

Before you go...


In the end, making a birthday party special is mostly about making your child feel honored and special in the moment, and not about all the matching paper plates, banners, and disposable party favors. I hope you take these tips and customize to make them work for you and match your little one’s personality. Make it a simple, natural, unforgettable experience they’ll love!

Love being a crunchy, green, tree hugger mama just as much as I do?  Follow our Conscious Consumerism and Kids Minimal Toys and Rooms boards over on Pinterest for all the best tips, tricks, and products to walk the earth-loving talk we’ve shared here!