Clutter-Free Kid Birthday Party: 5 Things You Can do to Reduce the Mess and Still Have Fun!

Updated: Aug 21, 2021

Does thinking about the aftermath of a kid's birthday party make you a little anxious? All those plastic favors, candy wrappers, plates, plastic cutlery, wasted food. Don't worry, there is a better way to throw a party that is not so hard on the environment, your wallet or your sanity!

My "intentions" for my daughter's 9th birthday party were to be 100% green and mess-free. I invited only a handful of kids and gave a lot of thought to what I would and wouldn't buy; but after my mom and others got involved with party-planning, my resolve slowly faded. I was simply outnumbered, and have you ever heard a grandmother say "no" to their grandchild, especially when it's their birthday?

I admit, it was going to be hard to send out invitations that read "please no gifts" without sounding mean or having to explain myself. I couldn't find a nice way to go about it, especially because I did not know most of the parents. Plus, I was not ready to tell my kid that they couldn't have gifts. Also, I figured the limited guest list would take care of excess presents.

So, I picked my battles, and the result was a meet-in-the-middle of the mess type of party. Here are 5 ways you can throw a semi-clutter free birthday party for your own child.

1. Skip the Plastic Favors

You can easily replace the cheap, toxic, plastic favors with something a little more eco-friendly, like books or crafts. I purchased small wooden craft boxes for $1.00 each, which the kids painted at the party. The paint, brushes and supplies, I already had at home.

This was also a great way to spend some time between food and cake. The crafts served double-duty as the kids were able to collect their piñata treats in them and take them home as the "goodie bag".

Balloon Tip: Just say "no". There is no rule in the world that mandates that every party have balloons. I doubt the kids will even notice they are missing. You can just as easily decorate with reusable and green products!

2. Think Reusable Items

Who says you have to use plastic cutlery, paper plates and cups? You can simply use the cups you have at home for drinks or buy cups that can double as their goodie bag. There are some great themed ones available for sale if you don't feeling like washing cups after the party.

Drink Tip: Instead of individual juice boxes (which kids take one sip of, put down and forget) fill up a larger container and let them pour their own. This cuts down on the amount of garbage you have to haul to the curb after the party.

3. Say No to Cake!

Yes, I said it! What kind of birthday party has no cake, you ask? One that uses cupcakes, donuts or cookies instead. Think about it. No need for plates or forks.

You can make homemade treats if you are up to it, or be like me and buy pull-apart cupcakes from your local supermarket. Also, having small cupcakes, donuts or cookies instead of large cake pieces, eliminates food waste.

Pizza Tip: If you order pizza for your party, ask the preparer to cut it in 16th for the kids. Smaller children are more likely to eat half a slice than a full one, especially when they are running around having fun. You can order a few pies for adults with regular sized slices.

4. Make Party Games

Instead of buying games, my daughter had a blast coming up with games to play at her party. She used her imagination and craft items that we already had at home. She got creative and invented games, like pin the beak on the flamingo and "hot coconut", and we went old-school with others, like limbo and musical chairs.

Prize Tip: Look at what you have around the house before you go out and buy prizes. I was also able to fill an entire piñata with small toys that my daughter got from parties, school, gifts, etc. We also had enough prizes for everyone to get one for each game.

5. Don't Overthink It

Face it, kids have a great time at parties regardless of the stuff around them. A party is a party, after all. It's all about your child spending their special day with friends and family (and maybe getting a few presents). I guarantee they will remember the interactions and laughter more than the decorations or lack of.

If you start this clutter-free trend early, you won't have to worry about outdoing yourself next year. (Think kid parties with live animals, bouncy houses, magicians...) Keep it simple, grab the half of cupcake your kid left for you, and watch your child have the best birthday ever!

One More Party Tip: Get creative and start your own traditions. Who says parties are the only was to celebrate anyway? When my daughter was younger, I would take her on a mini-vacation every year for her birthday in leu of a party. Those were some of our most cherished memories!

If you want to check out how I survived one of those vacations with a child, check this out: Vacations Without Baggage: Easier Travel With Kids (


If you want to get your kids birthday presents that have nothing to do with "things" read Clutter-Free Holidays, Birthdays & Special Occasions -"The Ungifty Gift" (

Do you have any clutter-free party ideas?

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