As the year rolls on, we’re quickly getting to that time when our calendars start filling up fast. Halloween parties, end-of-school bashes, Christmas get-togethers, New Year’s celebrations and every little shindig in between – it’s all part of the whirlwind of the “silly season”. Living up to its name, it’s a crazy and hectic time, especially if you’ve put up your hand to host one of these parties.
Throwing parties can be hard – not just on you and your finances, but also on the environment. From disposable tableware and decorations, non-recyclable packaging and food scraps, parties produce a huge amount of waste. Most of it ends up in landfill, adding to the mountain of waste that never breaks down. But here’s the good news: you don’t have to be a party pooper for the planet’s sake. With a little bit of planning, you can reduce your environmental impact by throwing a zero-waste party. You’ll even save some cash, which is always a plus this time of year.
Stella de Rozario, the owner and operator of Wish Upon a Party in Perth, is a zero-waste party expert. Her business specialises in creating magical children's birthday parties for girls and boys, and offers a wide range of themes, from popular Disney characters to fairies, pirates and so much more. Beyond children's parties, Stella also works her magic on decorating events like baby showers, tea parties and sleepovers.
Aware of the environmental impact of wasteful parties, Stella is all about keeping things eco-friendly and waste-free. She aims for zero-waste, but know it can vary depending on her client’s preferences. Still, she’s always ready with suggestions.
A seasoned thrifter, she constantly scours op shops for the perfect themed décor and table settings. And when she can't find exactly what she needs, she gets creative with some upcycling. She loves giving old things a new life.
"I was brought up to be resourceful from a young age, and I try to carry that ethos into my personal and professional life”, Stella says. “With my parties, I take pride in showing that things can be beautiful even when they've been repurposed, and I love the challenge. Hosting zero-waste parties is a win-win for me, my clients, my guests and the environment.”
Stella's way of decorating parties has certainly struck a chord with her clients. They've left glowing reviews on the Wish Upon a Party Facebook page and website, praising the high-quality decorations, meticulous table settings, and her eye for detail. One delighted client even went on to say, “I recommend anyone looking for ideas for a special occasion to talk to Stella. I’m sure she can help.”
We decided to ask Stella for her top tips on throwing a magical zero-waste party. Here's what she shared:
1. Ditch paper invitations:
Use apps like Canva to create digital invitations. You can easily find a template that matches the theme of the party, and you can send them to your guests via email or direct message once complete. Digital invitations not only reduce paper waste and postage costs, they also make it easy for your guests to respond and stay up to date with your party.
2. Avoid disposable tableware:
Use reusable plates, glasses and cutlery, where possible instead of disposable ones. You can find excellent second-hand tableware in op shops or on Facebook Marketplace, or to save some cash, you could borrow sets from friends, family members, or neighbours. If disposables are unavoidable, choose biodegradable options, like bamboo or paper. For drinks, use paper straws, or better yet, give out metal or silicone straws as party favours. And remember, many plastic items can often be washed and reused for future events.
3. Decorate with op shop treasures:
Op shops are absolute goldmines for party decor. You can score things like tablecloths, vases, candle holders, ornaments, baskets and old toys, which jazz up your table settings and make great party props. Plus, some op shops have a craft section, where you can find silk flowers, paper, ribbons and nifty store-bought decorations, like baubles and bunting. Also keep an eye out for items you can easily upcycle, like old quilt covers, damaged picture books and scraps of fabric. Find your nearest Good Sammy store here.
4. Get creative and crafty:
You know those picture books we just mentioned? You can repurpose their pages to create party hats or bunting, and even cut out characters to use as fun cake toppers. And when it comes to those old quilt covers, they can be transformed into tablecloths, whimsical backdrops, chair coverings and cushions. You can turn those fabric scraps into napkins, tassel garlands or even sew them into reusable lolly bags. If you think outside the box, you’ll be flooded with crafty ideas for your op shop finds and Pinterest is always there to provide some extra inspiration.
5. Choose eco-friendly food and drink options:
You can’t have a party without food and drinks, but excessive packaging is a real problem for the planet. Think about swapping out bags of chips and lollies for fruit platters, sandwiches and tasty finger food. And for drinks, use jugs or dispensers and hand out reusable cups instead of plastic bottles, cans and juice boxes. If you douse plastic bottles, make sure to recycle them at your nearest refund point.
6. Don’t throw out leftovers:
When the party's over, there's usually some yummy food left. You can help cut down on waste by offering Tupperware containers or asking your friends to bring their own for the leftovers. And don't toss those food scraps and used paper napkins - they make great compost! Share them with your green-thumbed pals, and your party will live on in their gardens.
7. Dispose of waste properly:
While we can take measures to help minimise waste, every party will produce a bit, so it’s a good idea to have clearly labelled bins for general waste, recyclables and compost. And hey, the extra cash when you recycle 10c bottles and cans you sometimes can’t avoid is a bonus!
8. Rehome your party décor:
If you’re not planning to reuse your party décor, don’t let it clutter your space – pass it on! Donate your items back to your local op shop so it can be re-loved by someone else, you'll also support a great cause! Or, you can try sell it as a complete package on Facebook Marketplace or Gumtree to keep items in the circular economy.
Hosting a zero-waste event can be easy-as with Stella’s tips. Silly season doesn’t mean you have to be silly with your party waste. Let’s make our gatherings fun and eco-friendly. Taking care of the planet is a cause that’s definitely worth celebrating, so cheers to that!