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Plastic Free Party Bag Ideas For A Zero Waste Kids Birthday

plastic free childrens party

Organising a plastic free child’s birthday? Are you looking for plastic free party bag ideas as a take-home for their friends?

Kids love a party bag. Parents not so much.

It’s a temptation to go for the easy option of plastic-based gift bag and party bag fillers. Grab a few throwaway plates, plastic cups and single use plastic bags. And it’s understandable too as there’s a lot on your plate.

But going plastic-free, or at least mostly plastic free, for your party isn’t impossible. I’m here to make the zero waste option easier for you, your child and their friends!

This blog will take a look at the best plastic free party bag ideas, as well as plastic free party bag fillers. You never know, you may even inspire other parents and children to consider the more sustainable, eco friendly option in future too.

So if you’re thinking about a plastic-free party, it’s definitely worth it! Let’s get to it.

Zero Waste Party Bag Ideas for a Birthday

paper party bags
Paper party bags and paper plates

There are plenty of ways you can make a kids’ party bag plastic free, eco friendly and fun!

Of course, it all comes down to your budget and how much time you’re willing to invest. With a little planning mixed with some arts and crafts skills, you can make your children’s party plastic free.

So if you don’t want to buy in plastic party bags, try one of these ideas.

1. Paper Bags

If you want a low-cost eco-friendly party bag option, paper bags are an ideal solution.

Paper bags are simple to sort out, you can use an existing resource and they are completely recyclable afterwards. Just remember, if you paint them or add too much glue for example, the paper will no longer be recyclable.

There are a few options to get hold of a paper party bag:

  • Buy them in (recycled if possible) – there are some good options on Etsy*
  • Brown paper bags
  • Make your own – this can be from newspaper, magazines or other paper you have around the house

If you buy in some brown paper bags, it might be a good idea to let the kids decorate them with some paper shapes

Whether you buy paper bags or DIY your own, each has its pros and cons.

For example, newspaper ink can seep out into food so this might not be suitable for edible items.

If you’re buying paper bags in, a pack of 20 or 30 may come in plastic packaging. Not entirely a zero-waste idea but it might be the best thing you can do. If you can re-use the plastic packaging then even better but you’re still saving on other single use plastics.

You can get packs of 25 large brown paper bags with handles on Ebay for £15.

2. Origami Party Boxes

Origami boxes are an interesting way to make eco-friendly party bags.

If you’re serving unwrapped chocolates, toffees and other knick-knacks you can let the children fill their boxes and have a great time!

Making the boxes can also be a fun experience for you and the kids. If you start making them in the weeks before the party your child will feel involved in their birthday prep and feel really special which can be an extra plus. 

Alternatively, if you have older kids, the box-making can even be a birthday party activity where the children get crafty and decorate.

There are some great eco friendly craft and decoration materials on Ethical Kidz.

3. Personalised Tins

If you want personalised tins and are willing to spend some money on them you can always get these special keepsake tins. The best part about tins is that you can keep all sorts of edible goodies in them and the children can use them as collectible boxes later on as well.

Alternatively, make your own personalised tins. You can buy plain tins and write the names of your child’s friends on each. Either fill in beforehand or leave for the friend to fill. A great plastic-free party bag alternative. 

4. Fabric Bags

When it comes good alternative party bag ideas, fabric bags are a top choice.

You can buy a bunch of fabric bags online and fill them with interesting items like crayons, a colouring book or wooden toys.

Plus depending on how big the bags are there’s always the possibility that the children will re-use these fabric bags for something else (or maybe the parents will!)

5. Reusable Party Cups

Parents who are trying to throw a plastic-free kids party will most likely use paper cups or ceramic cups depending on the age of the children.

By getting some form of reusable party cup, you’ll be able to let the kids fill them them up with their favourite goodies afterwards to take home – after they’ve washed it out of course.

This also means you won’t end up stuck with a bunch of extra cups after the party. 

Just make sure you get slightly larger-sized cups than regular so there’s enough room for kids to fill their cups with enough goodies.

6. Party Cones

Paper party cones are the easiest to make. Just think of how you’d make a party hat.

Cut out a paper circle, then a pie-shaped wedge, and roll it into a cone. Staple it together or use tape and you have a container for your kid’s party.

You can then fill these with whatever you want – popcorn, lollies, marshmallows or any other goodies you have.

Ideas for plastic free party bag fillers

Plastic tat is real. As named by a Sustainable Life, this plastic tat is instant landfill!

So ditch the plastic toys and generally most things found in your local cheap shop, and try and opt for some eco-friendly options that won’t end up in the bin after 15 minutes.

You can pick up some great ideas for plastic free party bags and fillers (more on that below) from creative trader sites including Etsy and Not On The High Street.

  • Birthday cake – let’s get the important thing out of the way. Wrap your cake in just a paper napkin
  • Packet of seeds – easy plants to grow include sunflowers, tomatoes and cress
  • Compostable plant pot – ideal to plant the seeds in
  • Reading book – these don’t have to be expensive brand new books. Head to your local charity shop or get spme second hand books online.
  • Colouring book
  • Note pad and twig pencil
  • Pencil crayons
  • Reusable cup – if you bought in reusable cups for the party, you might want to give these away to the children as a keep-sake. Alternatively, you can keep them for your next party!
  • Metal or reusable straw
  • Wooden toys – ditch the plastic and go with wood

If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed, there are now businesses out there who will provide everything you need for a plastic free party.

Some of my favourite places online include Party Kit Network, Plastic Free Party Bags and Ethical Kidz.

Things to avoid for a plastic free party

Sometimes you can’t help coming across some form of plastic during your party organisation. Don’t get too bogged down in it as you’re trying your best!

However, there are a few plastic-based and not environmentally friendly items that you should try and avoid. For most ‘traditional’ party items, there are good eco alternatives available now allowing you to make a sustainable swap.

  • Glitter – this is essentially pure micro-plastics. In the best case scenario, the majority will end up in landfill. However, I’m sure some will escape into gardens and the environment where it’ll persist indefinitely. You can now buy plant-based eco friendly glitter which is biodegradable, a bit like you can get biodegradable confetti. This would be a much more sustainable option than traditional glitter.
  • Balloons – Again just pure plastic that cannot be recycled. Balloons can cause all sorts of problems for plants and animals when they find their way into nature through either floating off or being discarded. It is possible to get more eco friendly free balloons now too.
  • Clear plastic sweet cones – they make look extra appealing to kids but this see-through plastic film is terrible for the environment and for recycling. Keep it simple and go for a brown paper bag – much more sustainable, recyclable, nicer to touch and the kids can hide just how many extra sweets they’ve tried to sneak in! You can get 100 brown paper bags like the ones below on Ebay for less than £5.

Wrap up on plastic free party bags

If you’re an eco-conscious parent and have decided to host or organise a plastic-free party there are tonnes of options to pick from.

When it comes to plastic free party bags there are also a number of creative and sustainable options. No need for those cheap, single use plastic bags!

You also have plenty of plastic-free options for your party bag fillers. I hope this blog has inspired with a few ideas so you can at least try or make a couple of sustainable swaps to make your child’s birthday party a zero(ish) waste bash!

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Ben & Murphy Peaks Mam Tor

Ben is the Creator and Editor of Tiny Eco Home Life. I write and publish information about more sustainable, environmentally friendly living in and around the home.

Alongside this website, I love spending time in the natural world, living a simple life and spending time with my young family (Murphy the dog!) I round up my thoughts and recent blogs on the Eco Life Newsletter.