Minimalist Birthday Party: Things to keep in mind while planning one

Minimalist Birthday Party

woman preparing christmas table

Have you ever wondered what all the hype is about with minimalism? We hosted a  minimalist birthday party for our 3 year old this year and we were stunned with the outcome.

Here is what we changed up this year in order to have a more waste free and minimalist birthday. It turned out to be a more enjoyable experience for everyone involved!

Loot Bags

Forget them. It may sound like a travesty, but most kids won’t even care about them 5 minutes after opening them in the car. As a parent think about when your kid comes home from a party, loaded up with candy and cheap toys that break almost immediately. It’s annoying, which is why it’s time to break the cycle. You’ve given them a great party, and leave it at that. If you simply must, opt for something more environmentally friendly, like a leftover cupcake or a small book.


We chose to tone down the decorations entirely. A handmade ‘Happy Birthday’ banner goes a long way toward setting the mood. Painting and personalizing a banner, paper pompoms, hats, and garlands are always fun projects to do with siblings the night before and there are tons of ideas on Pinterest!


Don’t overdo the food preparation. Kids hardly eat anything at birthday parties because they’re so busy playing so rather than ending up with loads of leftovers put out only what is necessary. Going with small finger food options are always great and helps keep waste to a minimum!


To reduce waste again we decided to opt out of plastic wear and plastic table clothes. This also reduces a lot of costs that aren’t really necessary by using what you already have. Go for the real plates, cups, napkins and cutlery. This creates a less cheap feel and afterward you’re not running to the store for tons of plastic that you’re only going to toss out. Give the table a good wipe down and sweep underneath.


On one hand you can opt for a no gift party which I am seeing more of and loving! Another option that is gaining popularity in Canada and other areas of the UK is each birthday guest gives $2-$5 in their card and that money can be used by the birthday child to buy a single toy of their choosing. It relieves a lot of the stress of what to buy for gifts but its also teaching your child a fundamental element of minimalism. The brilliance of the idea goes beyond making life easier for parents. It allows the birthday kid to choose a single present that they’re actually going to love and use. It shows a child that a single thoughtfully-chosen, high-quality item is a better investment than a heap of random, cheaper toys that have been given out of obligation.

Birthday Gift Ideas

If you decide to go the gift giving route here are a few of my favorite ideas that can be tweeked into your own!


Book Party: Everyone is asked to bring a book they liked and then they all exchange them with each other at the party so everyone gets to take a new book home. Great way to encourage reading for kids rather than gift giving.

Trail Mix Bar: Everyone brings one ingredient to make trail mix. At the party create a trail mix bar where everyone can make their own yummy trail mix and take a bag home with them!

Share a Story: (in letter form) that can be read at the party. As a gift you share a story or fun memory from a time you shared together. It goes beyond the generic toy gift, and brings a smile to their face, as well as others that know them. The stories can then be saved in a time capsule to be opened and read at  a later time such as 18th birthday or graduation. We did this for Ava’s first birthday and the time capsule is filled with stories and photographs that we will give to her to open on her 18th birthday.

In my years of parenting (I’ve been doing this for 9 years so I consider myself somewhat of a professional), I’ve realized that kids mostly just want to play together, and having friends over to the house is exciting enough. They will create their own party vibe without much help from anyone else so you don’t need to worry about it not feeling like a birthday. Also just think of all of the massive amounts of trash bags you won’t be hauling out after everyone leaves for the day. You’re preserving the health and well being of your Garbage Man’s back while simultaneously preventing pollution and waste. Everyone wins, Yay!

It has been more fun coming up with birthday party theme ideas that include the whole family doing something together rather than just aimlessly wondering party decor isles and toy stores. As the kiddos get older some of the themes will grown into trips that we can take together but for now we are sticking with more low key ideas until then. I feel like this has been one of the best decisions I have made as a parent.

What are your thoughts on gift free birthdays? Have you embraced minimalism in your home in some way?

Visit my blog post on my thoughts on birthday and other special celebrations


Fair Minded Mommy


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