Blogger and Live for Less DIY guru Cherie Pasion has done her homework so your kids can party for less.

There are few things as satisfying as seeing the look of joy and wonder on children’s faces during a birthday party. Here’s how to bring this sense of wonder to your child’s party while keeping costs down and treading lightly on the environment.


When planning a kids’ party, there are three things that I typically consider:

  • How can I make it as magical an experience as possible?
  • How can I keep the costs down?
  • How can I leave as low a footprint on the environment as possible?

Thankfully those three things are achievable and you can create a low cost, environmentally-friendly yet magical experience that your child and their friends will love and remember.

Creating a magical experience

Children love all things simple and whimsical. If you combine those two elements, then you have a winning recipe. While some children are attracted to characters and specific themes, other children will enjoy activity-based parties – such as bike rides, painting, swimming etc.

Once you have settled on your theme, the rest of the party planning follows, and you can start planning decorations, activities and favours, all while keeping costs and your environmental footprint down.


While popping to the store and picking up plastic banners and balloons is the easiest option, it’s not the most sustainable. In the interests of creating decorations that keep costs down and are kinder to the environment, consider the following:

1. Invest time in creating reusable decorations

If you enjoy sewing or you are happy to invest in long term decorations, hand-sewn cloth buntings are hard to beat. If you opt for gender neutral colours and timeless patterns, these buntings can be used for many years and across different festivities.

If sewing isn’t your thing or you don’t want to fork out that kind of investment, you can purchase wool inexpensively and create pom-pom garlands. Children love pom-poms and if they are old enough, they may even help you make them. You can find helpful tutorials online and you don’t need any fancy equipment.

2. Use natural materials

Brisbane is home to a vast array of natural treasures that appeal to children. The crows ash tree, a native to South East Queensland, has decorative star-shaped seedpods that can be collected, painted colourfully, and placed about the party table or hung from strings. Gum nuts, banksia cobs and leopard tree seeds can be decorated into little creatures. Pine cones can also be painted and strung up as decorations. Dried palm flowers that messily fall into backyards across Brisbane can be spray-painted or wrapped in colourful wool.

Another option is using fresh flowers, especially if your garden is abundant.  You can find fun and festive ways to display the flowers, such as hanging them in small jars around the party.

3. Use recyclable materials

Why fork out money when you already have decorative treasure in your trash?

Catalogues, newspaper inserts and junk mail can be cut into triangle shapes and made into buntings (holepunch across the top and thread with string, or use little wooden pegs to attach to the string). Toilet rolls can be made into characters and critters. If you are looking for inspiration, head over to Pinterest and you’ll find ideas for every party theme. Once the party is finished and you’re packing up, the decorations can go back into the recycling bin.

Party activities and games

Timeless classics like pass-the-parcel and pin the tail on the donkey are still favourites. However, you don’t need to spend money on these or fill them with plastic toys. Try making your own using recyclable materials. Wrap the pass-the-parcel with newspaper or brightly coloured catalogues, and prizes can be simple nature-based critters.

Other ideas for party activities that kids love:

  • icing and decorating biscuits, which work especially well for specific themes and colour schemes
  • nature art and craft
  • paper aeroplanes and paper boats provide endless entertainment (also for parents too!)


Party favours

Loot bags – children love them, parents dread them. Instead of reaching for lolly packets at the supermarket to fill your loot bags, here are some great ideas that children love and parents will thank you for.

  • Grasshead DIY kit. Hands down this has been the best favour I have ever done. Weeks later, children were still reporting on the progress of their grass head. Find out how to make the kit here.
  • Playdough. Kids of any age love playdough, and you can inexpensively create little tubs using this DIY recipe. When making the playdough, you can use colours and scents that match your child’s party theme, and add little trinkets or nature treasures to add to the appeal.
  • Paper aeroplane kits. Get creative with magazine pages, origami paper and assorted paper rescued from your recycle bin.
  • Nature critters and painted seedpods. Reuse your natural decorations as party favours – for example, painted crows ash seeds and banksia seed critters. For craft-loving children, you could make up DIY kits for them to take home – with banksia seeds, pipecleaners and googly eyes.

Minimising waste

Think about the 3R’s – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle with the following tips:

  • Consider using bright table cloths or decorative fabric instead of plastic cloths.
  • Straws may be colourful and tempting but they are often unnecessary.
  • Use a marker pen to write the children’s names on their drinking cup to save wastage.
  • Choose paper or wood plates, cups and utensils over plastic and make sure they get thrown into the correct bin at the end of the party.
  • If the party is at your house, you may wish to use real plates and cutlery instead of their plastic equivalents. For a festive and feminine feel, it’s fun to top the plates with paper doilies.
  • Make sure wrapping paper is collected and reused in future craft activities or placed in the recycle bin.

Cherie holding a kids party workshop at the latest Green Heart Fair.