After the laughing, screaming, bouncey house jumping and maybe a little crying (ok maybe a lot), your special little one’s special day has come (mercifully?) to an end. When frosting has been cleaned from tired little faces and sugar-charged playmates have been sent on their way, goodie bags in hand, what remains at your house or party place is this: a small mountain of disposable paper products galore, from streamers and plates to pinatas and pizza boxes, all destined for the trash after one-time use. Before you give in to the birthday carbon footprint stomp, read on. We’ll show you how to plan an eco-friendly party, from invitations to party favors! With a few simple, inexpensive tweaks, you can turn your kiddo’s moment in the sun into a definitively green big day.

Send Electronic or Plantable Invitations

Spread the word of your child’s big day without leaving a paper trail. In addition to popular online invitation site, Evite, there are many other adorable invite sites popping up in cyberspace which enable you to create adorable, personalized party invitations in a flash. If you still desire the formal touch of an invitation, but you want to spare some trees, opt for Paperless Post. They have an array of kid-friendly digital stationary designs that may be personalized and customized to suit your child’s personality or party theme. Each virtual card is delivered in a personalized envelope to the recipient’s inbox, and senders can track and manage their guest’s RSVP’s online. Cocodot also offers sweet, stylish and modern electronic invites, and you can send unlimited amounts of digital invites and cards for free. Bonus, their invites are also ad-free. If a tangible card is a must in your book, head to Botanical Paperworks and select a card that recipients may plant and watch blossom into wildflowers!

Green Your Party Decor

Choose reusable decor and party wares, which may be enjoyed year after year instead of crumpled up and tossed at the end of the festivities. Green Planet Parties makes it easy to ditch the paper varieties of decorations with their gorgeous selection of felt banners and garlands, table cloths and runners, felt tabletop confetti, and even a high chair bunting and bib set. Instead of a typical cardboard cone party hat, make your kid king or queen for the day with a personalized wool felt crown from Chloe in Style, which may also double as a keepsake. If you’re pressed for time, fret not, you can still deck the halls with last-minute green decor by using your printer. Paper and Cake printable partyware, from cup sleeves to cupcake picks is downright darling. Just be sure to use recycled paper and ink, and recycle or reuse this party decor.

Think Outside The Box When it Comes to Gifts

Consider foregoing packaged gifts altogether. There are many ways to honor the occasion with a considerate offering, that don’t require toys and wrapping paper galore. Ask party goers to make a donation to your child’s 529 college savings plan, to contribute to an annual pass to your local zoo or children’s museum, or to pitch in toward dance, music or gymnastics classes. Or, perhaps grandma can offer knitting lessons, or an aunt can offer an afternoon of baking with the birthday boy. These experiences may end up meaning more than any tangible gift ever could. Of course, once kids reach a certain age, they’re all about the presents — but there are ways to green gift-receiving as well. Ask guests to bring gifts minus the gift wrap, and wrap your own offerings in eco-friendly wrapping paper such as this from Snail’s Pace. You can also create an online gift registry at a local toy store, which is comprised of sustainably made, non-toxic gifts that your child will love (include a wide range of price points to accommodate every budget). Guests will appreciate the guesswork being taken out of their hunt for the perfect present.

Serve Homemade Cake on Reusable Plates

Do away with paper plates and cups, and plastic forks, and opt for reusable alternatives. A new company called Re-Play has just debuted their collection of reusable tableware made in the USA from recycled milk jugs, which includes bright, candy-colored spoons and forks, bowls, divided plates and sippy cups. You can even have all of your child’s friend’s take their tableware home with them as a party favor. Dandelion also serves up cute, reusable tableware for tots, and it’s bright yellow and made out of corn PLA.

If possible, it’s always a greener, healthier endeavor to make a homemade birthday cake using organic ingredients. And head to the bulk bins in your grocery store for party snacks. This will help cut down on wasteful packaging, and it’s more economical too.

Make Party Favors a Deep Shade of Green


What kid needs another plastic trinket or tchotchke that’s made in China? Bestow a meaningful party favor on revelers that may be enjoyed as a lasting memory of the special day. Miniature potted plants make a sweet parting gift which may also double as a party activity. Offer an array of seed packets and a scoop of potting soil, and let kids plant their own seeds to take home and watch sprout. You could also set up a crafting table and let little ones decoupage their own flower pots. Another eco party favor idea is to asks guests to bring a gently used children’s book to exchange. Place all of the books in a box by the door and let kids pick out a ‘new’ book to take home as they’re leaving the party.

Do you have any tips on throwing an eco-friendly birthday party?

— Beth Shea