Party for the planet

Sustainable City

Whether you're planning a birthday party in the Park Lands, some Halloween shenanigans or (for the super organised) brainstorming early for the staff Christmas 'do', throw the ultimate party with the planet front of mind. Here are some enviro-ideas to get you started – before you know it you’ll be hosting the event of the season.

  • When gift-wrapping, consider other more sustainable alternatives like furoshiki (scarf or textile off-cuts), newspaper (paint with potato stamps to decorate) or up-cycled paper, even a beeswax wrap! Instead of plastic bows and ribbons, decorate with plant trimmings and swap a card for a spoken message - delivered in person and from the heart.
  • Consider gifting experiences instead of objects – dinner at a restaurant, a massage, zoo entry, a cooking class … options are endless. For your foodie friends and family, consumables like locally made treats can be a good option to indulge with minimal waste.
  • Gifts don’t have to cost the earth. If you’re on a budget, consider using your skills – whip up a batch of jam, take cuttings to start a herb or succulent garden or offer to look after the kids to see parents beam.
  • Guest gifts – whether it’s party bags for the kids, a gift for the hosts or formal bonbonniere, stay away from the plastic junk. Choose one quality item that will really be used (home made play-dough, seeds or a plant, or a cookie mix jar).
Succulent gift


  • Celebrate using bubbles, not balloons. Latex balloons claim to be biodegradable but still last long enough to harm animals.
  • Crafty? Make decorations from paper or fabric which can be reused or recycled. There's lots of inspo on Pinterest suitable for beginners to the highly skilled.
  • Make bunting from fabric if you're handy with the Singer or thread cut-out triangles (or other shapes) onto string or ribbon. Use shapes made from felt, pretty printed paper, old birthday and Christmas cards, or paper hand-painted or stamped by the kids. Kick it up a notch and channel your inner decorating diva by knitting or crocheting the panels to be strung up.
  • Need some night light? Locally made natural candles add beautiful scents for a truly sensory event.
  • Tissue pompoms create great 'pops' of colour or go old school and make paper chains gluing interlocking rings of pretty paper together. 
  • Make your own unique piñata from recycled paper; yours will be the only one on the block.
  • If you're convinced you don't have a crafty bone in your body, or prefer to outsource decorating, stick to paper-based or fabric decorations you can reuse or recycle. If you find yourself left with lots of small pieces of paper at the end of your creative efforts, be sure to put them in your green organics bin as they'll be too tiny for the recycling process.*

    *You can look up what items can/can’t be recycled in your area on this handy Which Bin website.
Sustainable decorating


  • If you regularly host big celebrations, consider buying cheap or pre-loved crockery and glassware instead of plastic or paper items. Afternoon tea host? Trios (set of cup, saucer and cake plate) will suit best. Dinner parties more your style? Big plates are your go-to. This can pay off after only a couple of parties. Pick a theme (floral, blue in the pattern, all white ...) then make a stop at your local charity shop to start collecting.
  • Don't have a dishwasher? If you're going big and can't stand the thought of washing up afterwards, there are alternatives to plastic cups, plates and cutlery. We've compiled a list of compostable suppliers which has lots of options for parties of all sizes. These days even local supermarkets offer products like bamboo plates and paper straws - which can all go in the green bin with no fussy scraping required.
  • Consider hiring, not buying. The best part? No storage and no washing up. Just scrape the plates or tip out the glasses and pack them back up ready to return (check rental company for exact details). Many also have furniture and other items for hire. Here are some existing hiring services.
  • Plan your food offerings around finger-food to reduce the need for any serving-ware. This also brings variety, the spice of life and another good reason to mingle.
  • Opt for locally grown and produced items whenever possible. Those food miles really add up. Look for the signs at the supermarket that signal locally made/grown or shop at your local farmers market to make a big impact.
  • Cut out soft drink – use cordial or make your own lemonade or fruit flavoured infusions. 
  • Include a sharing table for swapping produce. This way, everyone can showcase their talents and try or take home something new.
Preloved crockery


  • Grazing tables are all the rage but try not to go overboard. Depending how it is presented, you may not be able to keep all the leftovers and you don’t want to end up tossing them out. Go for quality over quantity and purchase items in bulk to save money and packaging. Also, invite your guests to bring reusable containers to take leftover food home.
  • Set up compost and recycling bins (for 10c recyclables, soft plastics, general hard plastic, paper and metals) with careful labeling so guests can help tidy as they go. Most people are happy to help but aren’t sure what to do so make signs: "Which bin does bamboo cutlery go in? The green bin!", "You can put cans into this container!" Make it clear enough for kids too.
  • Collect wrapping paper in two categories. Big pieces in good condition to reuse and torn up pieces to recycle (be sure to separate any ribbons, tape or foiled paper).
A wrapped present held in a childs hands


Paring back the plastic

Single use plastics are a topical issue and governments all over the world are working out the best approach to ban plastic bags, straws, plates, cutlery and other items. Reusable or compostable alternatives are becoming more common in Adelaide, even without legislation, as consumers are demanding sustainable options. 

The City of Adelaide has prioritised using plastic alternatives at events where it can make a big impact. At a state level, the South Australian Government will introduce a bill to remove plastic straws, cutlery and drink stirrers in 2020 and recently announced that the Adelaide Central Market and Central Market Arcade will be one of the first trial sites for a plastic-free precinct.

Thousands of people already agree it’s the right thing to do, so get on board the eco-train and be a host with the most.

Do you have any suggestions to add to our list? We’d love to hear your green party planning tips in comments below.

Also - if you're looking for inspiration on how to make the most of spring in the city - check out our handy spring guide!

Article by

Rebecca Moyle-Croft

Rebecca Moyle-Croft

Bec has always been a passionate Adelaidean. Living abroad for six years she took every opportunity to explore, from big cities to national parks. She is chuffed to be living in Adelaide again, enjoying being a tourist in her home town with a long, ever-growing “must see and do” list.