With parents becoming more and more conscious of the products we use and consume at home and initiatives like Plastic Free July receiving great attention on both social and mainstream media, consumers are becoming savvier and more aware of the impact that our choices have on the planet. When it comes to our children’s birthday parties, as parents, we know how our boys and girls of all ages look forward to receiving a little something to take home.
And yet, we also know how, typically, party bags are often filled with low quality plastic items. And despite our best efforts, those little bits end up broken, lost, or in the bin soon after the party. It’s no surprise that a lot more parents are looking for plastic-free party bags and alternatives that are both more environmentally friendly and durable. So here are some ideas for you to consider when you plan your next birthday party.
Replace plastic party bag fillers with more eco-friendly alternatives.
Now, armed with your ethical bags or alternative containers, what are we going to fill them with? A simple solution could be to replace plastic fillers with their wooden counterparts. Wood is safe and non-toxic, and often manufacturers use non-toxic paint too. Plus, wooden toys are often made to the highest specifications, and they last a lot longer – I’m sure you still have some of your favourite wooden toys from where you were a child yourself!
So if you’re looking for ideas for party bag fillers, here’s a nice (yet not exhaustive) list of alternative items to get you started.
- Biodegradable balloons
- Fridge magnets
- Hair Slides
- Hair bands
- Wooden whistles
- Wooden spinning tops
- Paper lasers
- Recycled crayons or colouring pencils
- Sidewalk chalk
- Wooden pencil toppers
- Finger puppets
- Marbles (if age-appropriate)
Can you imagine the excitement on the children’s faces when they open up their party bags and find any of these lovely surprises inside?
Give the children something to keep.
Or you could send the children home with a small toy – think a wooden, felt, or cuddly toy. Or why not give them a small plant or a flower seed in a terracotta pot? If the season allows it, sunflower or sweet pea are extremely popular with children, as they’re easy to look after and grow. Think about it – you’re gifting the children with the experience to nurture a little plant or flower. Imagine their smiles when that seed grow into a beautiful plant or flower!
Give the children something to eat.
A popular alternative to party bags are party cones or bags filled with chocolates or sweets. You can buy these pre-made or have fun making them yourself. And if you do, why not enlist the help of the birthday child, too? All you do is grab a selection of your (or your child’s) favourite sweets and fill up cones or paper cups. This is your chance to explore those fun plastic-free containers again, like popcorn bags or small tins. And for older children, you could even try a small glass jar. There’s always a chance the children’s parents won’t thank you for being the cause of an extra sugar rush when the kids get home, but we all allow a little sugar at parties, don’t we?
And if you’re not too keen on buying lots of sweets, why not bake a batch of brownies, cookies, or cupcakes? Your child can get involved with mixing and decorating too, and it’s a nice thing they can then share with their friends. Or you could have fun making candy necklaces or bracelets, or even give the children a cereal strand! When giving out food, of course, don’t forget to take all the necessary precautions.
- Take into account the age of the children (and consider they may have younger siblings at home).
- Avoid anything that could be dangerous if swallowed, like jelly beans, for example.
- Be mindful of allergens and nuts. It may be a good idea to even label your cones or parcels with the ingredients you used, just to be on the safe side.
Give the children homemade or crafted goodies.
If you’re not into baking, there are plenty of other lovely gifts you could send your children’s friends home with. If you’re good with the sewing machine, you could make masks, cuffs, or capes for a superhero-themed party. Another fun little something you could make at home is playdough, which you can add colour, scent, or exciting glitter to. Or you could melt some pre-made natural soap and mould it into animal or alphabet shapes.
You could even pre-bake some cupcakes and decorate them at the party. Give the children one each to take home, and they can share their lovely creative work to their parents. All of these will make for a fun, unusual alternative to the traditional party bag, and you can be sure your kids’ friends will enjoy it and cherish it for time to come. Making things at home can turn out to be easier and more cost-effective, and it’s a good way to account for younger siblings too.
Give them something to do or make.
Children who come to our parties have lots of fun engaging in interactive activities, so to keep with the active theme, why not give the children something they can make, build, or do when they get home? You could give them a plain cloth bag, small canvas, or a t-shirt to paint with their parents. Or a wooden toy model to build. You can buy some fantastic wooden kit building sets of different species of dinosaurs which we know would go down a treat with the dinosaur lovers attending our Dino Disco Adventure Challenge parties! Or why not give out a small wooden puzzle? Or a nice journal, notebook or notepad with pens or pencils?
Whatever you choose for your party bags or favours will always depend on a few factors. On the time you have available to plan the party, your budget, your party theme, or your willingness to spend time making or crafting the items yourself. But as you can see, there are plenty of more eco-friendly and durable alternatives out there. If you’re looking for something that’s not going to end up in the bin, give the children something slightly unusual. It’ll feel that little extra special and will be great fun to play with too!
Over to you now. Do you have any ideas for plastic-free party bags and favours to share with us?