How to throw an Eco friendly beach party?

Like every year, we celebrate our son’s birthday Eco-friendly way where we select a nature experience of some sort along with some educational fun!

Ruhaan’s first birthday was most memorable when we had farm themed birthday with real farm animals & horses joined us for celebration, our guests still talk about our unique first birthday! Then we had one simple park birthday, where focus was on toddlers having fun in the park! His third birthday was ‘grow your own food’ themed birthday and everyone loved our edible herb plant, party favors. The potted plant chocolate cake was so authentic that nobody believed it’s a cake!

But this year, it was challenging as kids are growing up, so we wanted to have more active birthday with Nature involved plus Ruhaan should love the theme & Eco friendly part is must! So after lots of options, we settled on Beach Party! Ruhaan loved the theme of sea world, in last term they had lot of activities of that theme in school!

Party Planning

Once it was decided that we are having Sea World themed Beach party, I realized I need to take lot of efforts to make the party Eco-friendly as there is big chance of things flying directly in ocean and can harm real sea world directly! So first thing I decided was to have a plastic free party! As plastic waste is biggest threat to sea and sea animals, so better to stay away from it completely. So no plastic cutlery, plates, cups, even no plastic straws and of course no plastic bags (apart from trash bag)!

Now that it’s been more than a year, I have been trying to reduce plastic from our life, it was much easier than before to think how to avoid plastic for the party!

The main objective was definitely protecting marine life by our actions! So many times, when people are having fun on beach, they don’t realize how their fun activities can harm marine life and might even threaten their existence! The fact is most of the people don’t want to harm marine life, but just because they are not aware or sometimes they are aware but not mindful; without knowing they harm our Nature.

So in true sense, I was just being mindful from the planning stage of the party about what is good for beach and marine life and what is not.

Selecting a beach

Selecting a beach was not as easy, as you might think. When you are having party of 4 year old with his class mates,  that too somewhere outdoors, where there is no boundary; you need to find a place which should not be crowded. These 4 year olds are so energetic that they can easily run far away but are not as mature yet, to find their way back on their own. So we wanted a beach which should be a bit secluded in Dubai on Friday!  Also the beach  should have toilets, parking facilities and I even wanted to have a lifeguard nearby (safety can not be compromised). So I literally combed beaches in Dubai over the weeks and days before party to find out that perfect location.

I was so glad when I found this location on kite beach, which fulfilled all my criteria plus it has ramp for wheelchair & stroller access. The surrounding beauty of the beach was an icing on the cake!

Party invites

Once I finalized our perfect beach party location, I made digital invites and sent them along with google pin of the location. Many people send written invites on ready-made printed invitation cards in school bags of our children. It definitely feels special no doubt, but being an Eco Friendly party; instead of asking our guests to recycle the invitation sent by us it’s always better to send digital invites, it’s convenient too! If there is option of reducing waste, then why to think about other option?

I asked parents through invites  to bring hats, sunscreen, swimming gears for kids and change of clothes. But some parents were so prepared they even got their own beach blankets for them!

Birthday Cake

When we decided the sea world themed beach party, it was clear that it should reflect on cake. Since Ruhaan has started making friends, we have been to so many parties and I have observed all those big themed cakes with fondant decoration create so much wastage. Though that fondant is edible, how many kids & adults actually eat them? I also don’t like the pictures printed on cakes, though edible food color is used, you can always taste those colors. Plus frankly my son’t doesn’t yet care how the cake looks, as long as there is cake on his birthday! Which I am really happy about! So I decided to have just his favorite strawberry vanilla cake with just sea waves made out of icing on top and pop up of turtle picture and sea shell shaped chocolates scattered in waves! He was so happy to see his sea world cake! Thanks to my regular bakers brownie point, they never failed to make me happy by giving shape to my simple cake ideas every year!

Sea World Birthday Cake

 

Party Decoration

I always keep our birthday party decoration to minimum, specially because our parties involve Nature & outdoors; the beautiful surrounding doesn’t really need further beautification!

This time we completely banned balloons for our beach party. When you take balloon to beach, there is really very high probability that balloons will end up in sea water. Like plastic, these balloons may look like jelly fish to marine animals like sea turtles etc; so they will ingest them and will suffocate. Same applies to balloons released in air, even far from sea. Any things that can float in air, generally end up in water bodies and finally in oceans. So imagine just for our few minutes of fun we are jeopardizing mere existence of marine life!

When I explained my son how our balloons can make turtles ‘sick’ and asked do you still want balloons for your party? He immediately agreed not to have balloons for our party! By now he understands really well that plastic and chemicals are not good so ditching plastic decoration was not any problem at all.

I just bought minimal paper decoration with sea world pictures on it. But on the day of party, last Friday it was so windy on beach that I couldn’t put any of that really minimal decoration! I just hanged Ruhaan’s name to our food table which are stuffed cloth letters made by his favorite aunt Sonal during his first year! We tried to stand an beach umbrella next to cake table just like a decoration (which couldn’t stand longer) and these real shells and corals decoration on cake table! That is all! So we had our birthday not just plastic free but even practically decoration free!

Natural Decor For Cake Table

But the fun all kids had on the beach was beyond any intricately planned & set birthday party! This was really a ‘less stuff more experience party’!

Party Food & Table Ware

For table wares I would have loved using reusable table wares, but our guest list exceeding 40 people, didn’t allow me to have reusable table wares. So we opted for paper plates, cups and wooden fork & spoons. I made sure to remove plastic packaging of all those table wares at home, to keep our party plastic free without excuse. I could have got plain biodegradable palm wares but that would have been a big compromise for my 4 year old therefore I found sea world themed paper table wares. When I am saying paper table wares, I know that there is thin plastic layer from inside which is not good for environment. But guilty as charged, I decided to give my 4 year old that much luxury! He really loved those turtle shaped plates!

Next big waste is drinks! Most of the parties biggest waste & mainly plastic waste is due to individual water bottles. To avoid it completely, we carrying a big 5 gallon water bottle with a compact stand for drinking water from paper cups! To avoid waste and plastic bottles, we even ditched fuzzy drinks for parents and I made my signature masala chai (spice tea) and carried it in our picnic thermos! We couldn’t give kids their individual juice packs, as all those juice packs come with plastic straw attached. Plus the straw is further wrapped in tiny plastic packaging for hygiene purpose. but there is no way that those small straws and it’s plastic packaging won’t fly and end up in sea when you are on beach. That was the reason I was so strict about my ‘plastic free’ party. So we opted for big juice boxes and which we distributed to kids in paper cups!

For food, we decided to keep it simple, we opted for healthy pizzas which come in cardboard boxes for kids as well as parents and some fries for kids which came again in cardboard boxes and paper bags! Only ketchup packets were in plastic which I clean up at the end. Next time on wards I am going to bring our own ketchup big bottle to avoid that waste.

I wanted to have fruit platter or veggie sticks but when you are on beach it’s difficult to control waste from any individually packed food and considering sand flying with with it was better to have simple, dry food for snacks!

All the lovely parents, were so helpful in distributing the food, I couldn’t have done that task with just my two helpers!

Party Games & activities

When I booked our part host I told them not to bring much of props as our party is plastic free and most of their props are plastic items. Plus I also wanted kids to have fun on the beach, in sand instead of playing games. So I told them to have only few games which will be mainly age appropriate physical activities!

So our party host asked kids to dig the sand and fill the pit water water! But as we know the sand absorbs all water so kids were busy for really long time to fill up the pit with sea water! Our host even arranged a tug o war for kids and parents! It was fun though, this is very popular game for outdoors!

Kids playing tug-o-war on the beach

I took with me only my son’s sand toys (which are plastic toys, haven’t found yet any alternative material option for sand toys). But kids had non-stop fun with sand. They even built small small sand castles! It was a lovely sight kids busy playing happily on the beach and parents just relaxing on the beach! That exactly what I wanted for our beach party! I even told my party host not to play music too loud and for long time! It is difficult to convince party host things like these, but our hosts were co-operative! They felt bad, as they couldn’t have arranged many games like other parties, but I told them as long as kids & guests are having fun that is what matters. You just watch out for kids, so I requested one host to stay in water as kids were going in water all the time!

During the party one of plastic bucket from sand toys flowed away. Even after so much precaution this happened! I felt sad thinking how our party added to plastic waste in sea. But frankly if there would have been sustainable alternatives to sand toys, we would have bought it. Why the sand toys are always made of plastic and not from some biodegradable materials like bamboo pulp? Toys manufacturer are you listening? We need biodegradable, sustainable sand toys for our kids!

Return Favors

When you have theme of party you generally select return favours that goes with theme. But for me I have few more parameters that the return gifts need to be really useful, as much plastic free and no sweets and candies, only healthy snacks! With due respect to all those lovely parents who take so much efforts to plan the party, if we give little more attention to return gifts, we can have really useful gifts and healthy treats in almost same price!

Since I have started my zero waste lifestyle, these return favours are a big problem at our household. Mostly they are plastic, Ruhaan play with it for few minutes and looses interest too soon and I don’t want to give him candies all the time, specially sugar consumption affects on him badly, he looses his sleep. This month we had so many birthdays and I am just tired of hiding all those candies, have no idea what to do with it?

So our birthday treat box was totally candy free. I opted for oat cookie and organic raisin box. Cookie unfortunately is packed individually in plastic packaging, but for hygiene purpose I selected it. But the raisins were packed in paper box. I am sure there could be more healthy and less waste options, I am just sharing my selections to show how the treat box could be candy free and healthier!

 

For gifts, we found stickers of sea world, a tiny note pad which even parents could use it and these cute crayons shaped in marine life. I strictly used paper bags and paper boxes for treats and gifts in the theme of our plastic free birthday party

Beach Clean up

At the end of our sea world themed beach birthday party, I cleaned up the beach not just for our party litter but thorough beach clean up! I was tired, but it’s our tradition; every time we go outdoors, close to Nature, we do clean up before we leave. Though it’s beach, desert or mountain. It’s a popular quote “Leave only footprints not waste.”

But I say this…

Plus cleaning up is great opportunity to teach your kids about protecting what you love! After seeing me doing beach clean up, he took part actively in my clean up. When Ruhaan found a plastic straw he came to me and asked, can this straw make turtles sick? So I could educate him what could harm his favorite sea world, turtles and fishes!

One thing I can’t resist to mention, that there are smaller stretches of beach where

After our beautiful party and beach clean up, our little sustainable family just sat on beach for few moments watching the sun set and taking in surrounding beauty! What could be the better end of our best beach party!

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12 Comments on "How to throw an Eco friendly beach party?"

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Very commendable. I’m sure this took a lot of effort on your part together with a lot7 of understanding from your little boy; but nothing like staying true to your cause. Once again, a very belated Happy Birthday to Ruhaan!

Sounds like a super fun day Amruta, I’ve forgotten about tug-of-war, such a perfect beach game!
Loved reading your great tips on hosting Eco Friendly parties at the beach.

I love this idea 🙂 my son would be turning 2 years old in 2 months. I would consider this concept in our planning, very economical and earth friendly, plus teaching the kids to be socially responsible to take care of our nature. Thanks for sharing this Amruta 🙂

I love this! Have been a fan of evites since Joshua was born and only ever used them!

Abigail {cuddlesandcrumbs.com}

What a fun day for his birthday! Thank you for sharing this, Amruta. You proven that we don’t need the colorful plastics to make the party fun

Zeyna S. - Mummy On My Mind

Well Done Amruta on succeeding to throw an Eco friendly party at the beach. I love the natural table decor, and your attention to detail to minimise plastic waste is truly amazing.

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Hi, I am Amruta, Thank you for visiting my blog!

I am a Sustainability Professional. I have worked on many green building projects in the

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