PLASTIC-FREE(ISH) PARTY BAGS
OMG. Is there a parent alive who actually likes them?
They are an additional source of stress and expense for kids parties, and whenever I speak to any fellow parents about them, I get them same rolled eyes and pained expressions.
But the kids LOVE them.
I have no idea why a piece of cake, a balloon and a handful of plastic tat that breaks within 3 minutes is so exciting, but apparently it is - I'm embarrassed to say that my youngest seems to think that they are the most important part of any party.
One option is obviously to take a stand and simply not do them.
And if I was braver I would love to do this. But my youngest simply cannot compute having a party, and not having party bags. So I've had to get inventive, dare I say even creative, with our party bags to avoid buying and giving out 'instant landfill'.
Here are some ideas for plastic-free(ish) party bags:
The bags themselves
- Good old paper bags are a great option
You can buy recycled paper ones here online from Eco-craft - the plain ones are a great idea as you can get the kids to decorate them, which depending on whether you have boys or girls at the party will take anything from 30 seconds to 45 minutes. All of which time they are seated and not marauding around destroying things.
- Make your own paper bags
If you're feeling crafty and have time on your hands (if you do, please can you come and organise my kids parties for me) you can make bags from newspapers or magazines - there's a tutorial here.
- Make your own fabric bags from old t-shirts or pillowcases
If you're a whiz with the sewing machine, this might be an option for you!
T-shirts are super easy to make bags out of - turn it inside out and sew up the bottom of the t-shirt, enlarge the neck hole and chop off the sleeves, turn it the right way round again and you're done!
- Cup cakes, or a piece of cake wrapped in a good old paper napkin, greaseproof paper or foil (avoid clingfilm!)
- Number shaped biscuits - I use this shortbread recipe here and number cutters for the appropriate number for the age of the birthday boy/girl and pop a couple in the bag
- Chocolate buttons - these go down a storm.
Melt a couple of bars of fair-trade chocolate and then use a teaspoon to smoosh giant buttons onto a lined baking tray. Decorate with sprinkles and leave to set.
You could either do little jam jars of these in lieu of a party bag, or pop some into a small paper bag inside the main party bag.
- Chocolate coins or chocolate eggs - if you remember at Christmas/Easter time stock up on foil wrapped Christmas coins and eggs!
- Pick 'n' mix - who wouldn't love a bag of pick 'n' mix - my kids would have to wrestle me for it. Just don't put it in those plastic cones!
This one will earn you brownie points with the party go-ers parents, but maybe some less enthusiastic from the kids..!
The Book People often do packs of books where the individual books work out at less than £1 each, so this can be quite an inexpensive option.
Either gift on their own, or as part of a party bag if you're feeling very generous.
A pack of something like sunflower seeds can work well if you have a spring/summer party. Have a competition afterwards to see you can grow the tallest sunflower.
Or cress seeds to make a cress head can also be quite fun.
- Colouring pencils
Kids can seemingly never have enough colouring pencils. Or at least mine can't.
Check out these ones here made from actual twigs - they're fab!
- Recycled crayons
If you have a stash of crayons that have seen better days, break them all up and melt the in silicone ice cube trays in a very low oven. We did this once with a lego brick mould and they were fab!
- Colouring books
- If you really want to get little eco-warriors excited about all things plastic-free, then their very own metal straw might go down well!
If you just want someone else to do it for you
If you don't have the time/energy to spend devoting your life to plastic-free(ish) party bags, then here are some 'done for you' links:
- Plastic Free Party Bags - does what it says on the tin! There's the option of buying pre-filled bags, or just buying the gifts to fill your own.
- Not on the High Street has an option to select 'eco-friendly' when you search for party bag fillers.
- Ethical Kidz has some nice plastic-free things to put in party bags
Sorry to be a party pooper but balloons are a no-no, whether they're 'biodegradable' or not.
If they break free and fly off when they come down they are a risk to wildlife. And even if they don't, they will spend years sitting in landfill before they even start to degrade.
- Plastic cones
I mentioned this one earlier, but these things make me wince - plastic cones filled with sweets and then tied off with plastic ribbon.
Get a good old fashioned paper bag!
- Instant landfill
Think twice before doing a minesweep of your local Pound Shop or the 'tat' section of the toy shop. These toys break within minutes and there is nothing that can be done with them other than put them in the bin. Plus you will be making kids cry when they break.
This is such a 'thing' right now and I know kids love nothing more than a pot of slime, but most commercially available pots are just stretchy slimy blobs of plastic 🙁
God I am the totally the fun police in this post.
Glitter is essentially a micro-plastic and when you can finally get it off your hands/face/every conceivable surface of your home and even some inconceivable places, it gets washed down the sink and passes straight though the filtration systems and on out into our waterways.
If you just can't face the tantrums, then there are eco-friendly glitters available.