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How to Throw a Sustainable Party with Juliana from Partyora

How to Throw a Sustainable Party with Juliana from Partyora

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when someone mentions a birthday party?

Balloons, cake, streamers…lolly bags?

Before we started our own zero waste journey, I had no idea just how wasteful birthday party celebrations can be.

Much to our daughter’s disgust, we decided against balloons for her recent 4th birthday party. Instead, we created our own eco-friendly decorations. She LOVED doing this and it was a great activity we could enjoy together (plus it helped her forget about the balloon dilemma).

But as newbies to throwing zero waste parties, I thought I would reach out to someone with much more experience and insight.

Juliana runs Partyora and helps plan sustainable and eco-friendly parties. Here's a little about her and how she creates beautiful zero waste celebrations. 

First up, tell us a bit about yourself and Partyora

I’m a Sydney mum of 4 boys, I have always loved anything DIY and love a good low waste party!

Partyora is an online eco party hub, you’ll find all the best eco party supplies from around Australia, eco party services such as local cake makers, plastic-free entertainment, sustainable party hire, and more on our directory plus party planning packages!

I started Partyora in 2019 with the idea of having all the low waste and plastic-free party options for busy parents to get ideas, spread awareness, and involve their kids to change the way we celebrate!

What exactly is an eco-friendly and sustainable party?

Typically parties are all balloons, plastic party prizes, and single-use plastics as tableware, we’re switching it up and providing low waste, waste-free, or plastic-free alternatives! There are so many eco-friendly party supplies out there that are not only great for the environment but also reusable so you’ll get so many more uses for each celebration! 

What are some great themes for a low waste party?

Our most popular themes are nature-inspired such as Rainbows, Sunflowers, Fairies, Outer space, Dinosaurs, and even mythical creatures like Unicorns, Mermaids, and Dragons. It’s easy to incorporate natural elements into all of these themes which you can view ideas and inspo on here.

Any theme can be incorporated into a low waste party, it’s just a matter of thinking outside the box! We see a lot of children wanting “what’s in” or the latest movies and tv show characters as their birthday themes, usually licensed characters like Disney, Superheroes, etc, and whilst there are the big chain stores that sell party supplies of these characters, they’re usually plastic and single-use! I recommend making your own Party decor here to match your theme, and getting the kids involved too.

Let's talk loot bags! What's a good alternative to plastic lolly bags & what are good eco-friendly ideas to put inside?

Any natural materials are great for party bags, brown sandwich bags to kraft paper bags, cotton drawstring varieties, and cotton canvas are all terrific options, these can either be composted after use or reused time and time again for zero waste!

As far as eco party bag fillers go, there are so many options but my favourites would have to be

  • Books
  • Bookmarks
  • Seed packets
  • Homemade playdough in jars or tins
  • Homemade cookies or cupcakes or donuts (These can double as a party activity if you get guests to decorate them)
  • Small wooden toys
  • plaster paint sets
  • colouring in sheets or booklets
  • Wooden pencils, erasers, natural crayons

You can view our loot bags range here.

What are some good activities for a zero-waste party?

Plaster painting, coloring-in, cupcake, or donut decorating are all popular. You could even hire entertainment; there are some great low tox face painters, magicians, or other entertainers who provide activities without plastic waste. Often you can request plastic-free options and most are more than willing to accommodate. 

Are we taking the fun out of parties by making them low waste?

Definitely not, there are alternatives to every part of low waste parties from buying sweets in bulk and foil-wrapped, to eco party bags and prizes, so you can still celebrate big sustainably.

What are your suggestions for sustainable and reusable decorations?

When thinking of decorations, I let our clients know that the kids' toys (especially if it’s in the theme) are great table or centerpiece decorations for the party.

The most popular reusable decorations would have to be fabric buntings and handmade garlands - these can be reused for every party in the family or children’s bedrooms as wall decor.

Tissue paper pom-poms and honeycomb balls are fantastic alternatives to balloons and can be folded back down for reuse also.

There are lots of handmade and reusable cake toppers and even printable decorations which are great for setting the scene. You can view our range here.

And what about party games/prizes? 

The pass the parcel is still a favourite #partygame and with good reason, it gets everyone involved and we find all ages still enjoy it even if they won’t admit it! 🎉‍.

Our Fabric Pass the Parcel sets have been popular! Not only will they save you time and reduce the amount of waste when wrapping your pass the parcel, but you can also reuse them for each party or lend them to a friend!

Simply pop in some Eco-friendly prizes starting with the smallest bag, then add that into the next sized bag with another prize and continue til full!🎉When it comes to prizes for party games, think ethically sourced, natural materials, and Australian handmade!

Whilst it’s sometimes hard to find plastic-free options, if you’re prepared with a list of items, it can stop you from impulse buying shiny plastic objects that will break easily and end up in landfill!

Here are some of my favourite eco prizes:


✔️Colouring in books


✔️Natural crayons

✔️Small wooden puzzles

✔️Peg dolls


✔️Crochet keyrings

✔️Handmade Playdough

✔️Wooden playdough stamps

✔️Seed packets

✔️Ribbon wands

Here are some eco-friendly party game ideas!

Let's talk presents! Should we avoid them, or is there a better way of gift-giving that doesn’t involve plastic?

My best tip here is to use gift wrap bags that are reusable over single-use types and gifting mindfully. There’s nothing wrong with gifting something useful and made to last. Our favourites are clothing and books but experience vouchers are fantastic and zero waste! Here's our range of gift wrap ideas.

We hope you've found some zero waste party inspiration from these tips Julianna has so kindly shared. 

And hey, whilst these suggestions are based on kid's parties, many ideas shared here you can incorporate into other celebrations (i.e. Mother's Day, Father's Day, and Christmas).

The number 1 thing to remember is that it's the occasion being celebrated that is most important on the day. For my daughter's 4th birthday party, I felt pretty bad about the 'no balloons' rule, but...guess what? She got over it! There was cake, games, our handmade decorations, and she had her family and friends to celebrate with, and this (surprise surprise) was her highlight of the day!

For more zero waste tips and inspo check out our other blog articles here.

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