Looking to make your next kid’s party more sustainable? Try my guide to these eco-friendly party bag fillers for some green inspiration.
If you’re planning a kids’ birthday party then I know only too well the stress of it all. As a mum of two, I’ve organised quite a few in my time.
What I’ve found is that there’s so much to do. Between finding a venue, working out catering, and organising the birthday cake, and the entertainment, there is A LOT of preparation that goes into throwing a 90-minute party. And if your kids are anything like mine, then I bet the one thing your kid is most concerned about is what is going to be in the party bags! It’s make-or-break stuff!
However, working out what to put in your kid’s party bags can be tricky. More so if you are trying to balance putting together something fun, on a budget, and with the environment in mind.
Of course, you don’t have to do party bags. It’s certainly the most sustainable thing to do. But if you do decide to keep the party bag tradition alive, then party bags don’t have to be a sea of plastic. To help point you in the right direction, I’ve put together over 15 ideas for eco-friendly party bag fillers – from budget-friendly ideas under £1 to pre-filled eco bags.
Eco-Friendly Party Bag Filler Ideas
Here are my top eco-friendly ideas, gleaned from parties we’ve held, or ideas that I’ve pinched from other parties my kids have been to over the years! Where possible I’ve included links to products, to help take the stress out of party planning. And to help you out further, I’ve categorised each idea under five headings:
- Arts & Crafts Ideas
- Toys & Games
- Sweets & Treats
- Other Eco Party Bag Alternatives
- Pre-Filled Eco-Friendly Party Bags
Arts & Crafts
Mini-colouring pencils make for a fun and practical eco-friendly party bag filler.
These pretty cardboard tubes of colouring pencils from Etsy cost £2.95 per tube, and contain 12 coloured pencils. The tube can be reused when the pencils are used up, or recycled in with your paper and cardboard recycling.
For a lower budget option, you can buy ten packs of six colouring pencils for just £5.55. This works out at £0.55 per pack from Crafty Beez on Etsy. Each set of pencils comes in a recyclable cardboard box, and can optionally be personalised with a themed sticker for a small additional fee.
Whether it’s for creating mini masterpieces or scribbling down important notes, pocket-sized notepads are another practical and plastic-free addition to any party bag.
Mini notepads can be found in loads of high street shops. From supermarkets to bargain stores, you’re sure to find heaps of plastic-free and budget-friendly options.
If you’d rather shop online, then Etsy seller MyKindaParty has a great selection of mini notepads, that are perfect for stuffing into kids’ party bags. Costing £7.20 for 12, this works out at a budget-friendly £0.60 per child.
Pair it with some colouring pencils, a slice of birthday cake and a couple of other carefully chosen fillers and you’ve got the perfect eco-friendly party bag right there, without any hassle.
If you are including colouring pencils in your bag, then you might want to consider adding a colouring book to accompany them.
Most colouring books are plastic-free and easily recycled. Plus they can be picked up cheaply and easily from supermarkets, pound shops, and shops like The Works.
Alternatively, Etsy seller Hand Drawn By Mel, offers these fun thank you favours. These personalised A6 booklets consist of a personalised front colouring page, a colouring page and a match-up game inside with a maze on the back, and cost just £1.10 per child.
Seeds are always a great choice for party bags, especially quick-growing seeds, such as cress. These take just a few days to sprout and can be grown all year round indoors.
Simply grow the cress seeds on a sunny windowsill on a piece of damp kitchen roll or cotton wool – you don’t even need any soil.
Thompson & Morgan sell Mr Men branded cress seeds for just £0.89 a packet. These make for fun eco-friendly party fillers that won’t break the bank, or harm the planet.
Some parties we’ve been to have included a little ceramic pot alongside the seeds. This was a nice touch, but if you want to keep the costs down there’s no need to include a pot.
Bracelet Making Kit
Another budget-friendly yet sustainable idea is to put together your own bracelet-making kit for your party bags. Simply buy a pack of wooden beads and some elastic, and pop some beads and a length of the elastic into a little bag.
Etsy sells colourful wooden beads for just £0.83 per 100 grams of beads. This makes it cost-effective and a great eco-alternative to plastic bead kits.
I would say though, that because of the small size of the beads, this idea is best suited for kids over the age of 6.
Toys & Games
If you’re looking for some fun toys and games to add to your party bags, I’ve got a few eco ideas. From ones that need a little bit of preparation, to easy options you can buy straight off the shelf.
Homemade Play Dough
One party that my eldest daughter went to always sticks in my mind for the party bag alone. Instead of coming home with a party bag, she came home with a Tupperware tub filled with a ball of homemade playdough that her friend’s parents had made.
It was such a sweet gesture that went down so well with all the kids. And as a parent, I really appreciated the thought and work that had gone into putting together an eco-friendly party favour that wasn’t going to fill our house with plastic.
The playdough lasted for a few months and could be composted once it was done. And we’ve still got the Tupperware tub that it came in, that we now use for food storage. If you don’t want to buy new tubs you could use old jam jars to put it in.
This easy homemade playdough recipe (pictured) from Just A Taste can be made in just a few minutes and requires just a few cheap and simple ingredients to make. Best of all, the dough can be whipped up without having to cook anything. The vivid colours are achieved using food colouring.
These wooden yoyos from Etsy are a great plastic-free alternative to plastic yoyos. Plus they are sure to be a hit with kids (and grownups!) of all ages. Who doesn’t love a yoyo, after all? Hours and hours of entertainment are guaranteed!
Coming in various woodland designs, these pretty yoyos cost £1.60 each, and are perfect for stuffing into your party bags alongside a slice of birthday cake and one or two little eco extras.
Another option for eco-friendly party bag fillers are these cute painted wooden rulers from Etsy. Costing just £0.90 a ruler, it’s a good budget-friendly addition to your bags.
Rulers are really useful items that get used over and over again. They can be taken to school or added to their art and craft supplies at home, for creating those all important straight lines, so won’t go to waste.
Do note that the colours and styles are randomly selected by the seller. This might not be a problem for you, but if you have a particular theme for your party then you can drop the seller a message to request a particular colour or style.
Sweets & Treats
All kids love getting sweets in their party bags. If you’re trying to avoid plastic, or using as little plastic as possible, then there are a few different eco-friendly party bag fillers.
Sweets In Paper Bags
If you are looking for plastic-free sweets for your party bag, one eco-friendly option is to buy a bulk bag of sweets and pop them into paper bags.
Online sweet shop Sweetzy offers bulk bags of vegan and vegetarian pick-and-mix sweets from £13.99 Plus you can get 15% off your first order when you sign up to Sweetzy’s mailing list. You can then make up little bags of sweets that are perfect for party favours.
Looking for ideas to put the sweets in? I’ve found paper sweet bags from Etsy for £3.99 for 24. The bags can also be used to pop a slice of birthday cake in, helping to avoid using cling film or tin foil.
Another sweet option is to pop some plastic-free chocolates into your party bags
These mini Tony’s Chocolonely bars (£7.95 for 20 from Ethical Superstore) are a great option. Entirely plastic-free, these tasty chocolates are also palm oil-free, and free of slave labour.
A couple of the flavours might not entirely be kid-friendly, so there might be one or two that you might want to nibble on instead while putting together the party bags!
Alternatively, Play In Choc boxes are a plastic-free and eco-friendly alternative to Kinder Eggs that make great eco-friendly party bag fillers. These come with a fun plastic-free model to build, meaning you don’t have to buy any toys. These cost £2.05 each, again from Ethical Superstore.
Related reading: zero-waste snack ideas.
Some parties that we have both been to and have held involve decorating something as part of the party that they then get to take home. This is a great way to entertain the kids, whilst avoiding having to buy any party bag fillers altogether.
You could pre-bake some cookies or cupcakes, and pre-mix some icing, then let the kids decorate them at the party. Sprinkles, chocolate chips and gummy sweets always go down well!
We’ve also done craft activities that the kids then get to take home as their party bag.
Other Eco Alternatives
Books are always a great thing to pop in a party bag for younger kids – most are free of plastic and tend to get read again and again, before being passed on.
If you’ve got time, then your local charity shops are always great places to pick up gently used kids’ books for a few pence each. It’s a budget and planet-friendly to take care of your party bags. You can then wrap up the book or pop it in a bag for the kids to take home.
Alternatively, if you are too pushed for time, then you can buy a set of books, like this fun collection of 20 fairy tales for under £18 which you can then split up into separate bags.
Mini Bath Bombs
Bath bombs are always such a huge hit with kids. But whilst big bath bombs can be a bit too pricey for party bags, these fun mini bath bomb sets from Etsy are more affordable.
These bath sets come in recyclable paper bags, ready for gifting, and can be purchased in a variety of different themes. From mermaids to robots, and everything in between, there’s something to suit almost every party theme.
These are all handmade in Devon, using vegan and cruelty-free ingredients.
These mini bath bombs cost £7.50 for five 50-gram bags at Etsy – which works out at £1.50 per bag.
Reusable straws are another fun eco-friendly party bag filler. Kids tend to agree that straws make every drink more fun, plus it’s something that tends to be used again and again.
Whilst most reusable straws are made of metal, I tend to avoid these types of straws for kids’ party bags as there is a risk of injury. Instead, I’d stick to soft silicone reusable straws just to be on the safe side.
This set of six silicone straws from Ethical Superstore (£9.95 for 6, which works out at £1.66 each) is a great choice for kids’ parties. They come in a rainbow of colours and are soft and safe for kids.
My eldest went to one party, where instead of a party bag, came home with a fun glass mason jar cup, that the parents had filled with loose sweets.
This meant my daughter got a plastic-free reusable cup she could use again and again. Meanwhile, putting the loose sweets inside the cup negated the need for any bags. It was so clever, and my daughter loved the party favour so much, so I wanted to share their good idea with you!
I haven’t been able to find any good suppliers online. Instead, supermarkets seem to be the best place to pick these up. Currently, Asda has a set of four for £7 (£1.75 each).
Pre-Filled Eco-Friendly Party Bags
If sourcing individual fillers for party bags sounds like too much of a faff, then there are a few companies that put together pre-filled eco-friendly party bags.
Craft & Crumb
Last year I bought some pre-made eco-friendly party bags from Craft & Crumb (available at Not On The High Street and Amazon), which were a big hit with the kids. These cost £5.95 per child, which cost-wise worked out okay for the small party we had. Perhaps they might be a bit pricey for larger gatherings.
Instead of plastic toys, each party bag contains either a biscuit or cupcake mix depending on your choice to make at home.
Each kit also contains a shaped stainless steel cutter or cupcake toppers to colour in (you can pick which option you prefer), all based on the theme you choose. Step-by-step instructions are also included for the kids to bake at home.
This kit arrives flat packed for you to pop the ingredients into the paper box and seal with a personalised thank you sticker. As we just had a few kids at our party, I popped in a few foil-wrapped chocolates, just to add a little something else to it.
Crafty Beez eco party bags are an easy way to green your kid’s birthday party.
Costing just £3.99 each, each personalised bag is full of plastic-free and ethically sourced UK products. These include:
- a personalised mixture of UK native wildflowers
- a roll your own Beeswax candle kit
- hand stamped note pad
- 6 mini colouring pencils
- a bag of vegetarian jellybeans in recyclable glassine packets – these can be swapped for vegan jellybeans if required.
- a thank you sticker to seal the bag.
These can be picked up from Etsy, in a variety of different themes.
Ways To Say Thank You
Available at Ways To Say Thank You’s Amazon shopfront, these plastic-free party bags are a budget-friendly eco alternative to conventional party bags.
Each personalised kraft paper bag comes with
- A packet of DEFRA-approved seeds, personalised with your child’s name and age
- A biodegradable plant pot
- A paper notepad
- A set of 6 coloured pencils
- A wooden plant tag
- A coordinating sticker to seal the bag
All you need to do is add a little bag of compost (if you wish) and a slice of cake and you’re good to go. Absolutely no fuss and no plastic!
Party bags are synonymous with plastic, but it doesn’t have to be that way. There are heaps of sustainable yet fun ideas out there for your next kid’s party. And if you don’t have the time to put together bags, don’t worry. There are a few eco-friendly companies that will do all the leg work for you. And who knows, your green party bags might start a new trend amongst other families!