It is so expensive throwing a birthday party. It is one of those ironies of life that people end up spending more on their own day of celebration than anyone could in gift giving. This is a frustrating point for those who lack the funds to go all out, or who at least would prefer not to spend a lot of dough on something that is ultimately an excuse to get together with loved ones.
There is also the concern for the environment that becomes a factor. Wrapping paper, streamers, banners, mass-produced cakes in non-biodegradable boxes… there is a lot of harm that a single birthday party can cause. Many of us would rather have an eco-friendly get together, which isn’t as easy to pull off when a group of people are involved.
But it isn’t impossible. Here are some tips for a low-cost (or free!) party that is also friendly for the environment.
1. Get a Free Meal
Alright, this first tip has nothing to do with being eco-friendly. But it is still a nice one to know about. A lot of places, especially restaurants, will have specials for people on their birthday. Usually, it is a free item like an appetizer, a buy-on-get-one entree, dessert, or beverage. Even more places have free kids meals on their birthday, with the purchase of an adult meal. For some help, you can find these offers in your area using Favorite Candle. Just put in your zip code and let it do the rest.
2. Have an Upcycling Party
A friend of mine had this idea, and I thought it was adorable. She got together a bunch of old paper, ribbons, paints and anything else she had on hand that she wasn’t going to use. She used all of this for an upcycling craft party for her twins, which was a huge hit. They painted old flower pots and she helped them to plant in a flower from her garden. They made mini scrapbooks for the party itself, with Poloroids taken of each child through the event. They even made their own little pizzas for lunch. It was adorable, the kids all had a great time, and she confided that it cost her next to nothing. All while keeping that stuff that would have otherwise been junk out of a landfill.
3. Make Your Own Decorations and Invitations
Of course, adults can get into the spirit of upcycling, as well. Reusing items to make decorations and invitations is a great way to save money; reuse paper, plastic, and fabric; and add a personal touch to any get together. I once used old sheets I had been planning to throw out into a kind of bunting for a table. All it took was a little dye and creative cutting and tying to pull it off, and it was really cute. I still have it five years later and I use it every year.
4. Choose a Free Location
One of the biggest costs of a party is finding a place to have it. If you can do it at home, great. But if you don’t want the mess, or you don’t have the space, you have to find another place to throw your birthday bash. Renting out a clubhouse can be very expensive. Getting a room at a kid’s party place is even worse. I tend to ask permission to use a family member’s backyard when it is warm, or a park. Every year I also throw one of my child’s parties at my in-laws since they have more space, and her birthday is in the winter, so outdoors is not an option. This year, my older daughter is having her party at a nickle arcade nearby. It will cost money, but very little, and they have tables we can use for cutting the cake.
5. Have a Vegan Potluck
One of the best things you can do for the environment is to give up some or all meat/animal products. I am not a vegetarian or vegan myself, though I have cut a lot of meat out of my family’s diet to help limit the impact on the environment and be overall more healthy. You can spread this around a bit, and save money on food for a party, by having a vegan potluck. My sister-in-law did this last year, and it was a big hit. She provided a list of dishes and recipes that were easy to make and had people pick the ones they wanted to bring.
Have an idea for a free, eco-friendly birthday party? Let us know in the comments!