Zero waste party tins for a 6 year-old’s birthday

Every year when Theo’s birthday approaches I worry a little about waste. I try to think about the kind of food we can cook at his party that won’t be nibbled and cast aside, I try (and nearly always fail) to think about how to keep a handle on incoming toys and for the last two years I have also attempted to do something close to zero waste party bags.

Some might say that the answer to party bags is simply not to have them, but I think it’s possible to do them in such a way that still gives pleasure without creating waste.

Last year I used scrap fabric to make quick and easy drawstring bags for the children (which are apparently still in use, hurray!) and this year I decided to use spray paint to upcycle a waste product which my sister has an awful lot of….


…coffee tins!

These tins had the potential to be both party gifts and a party activity so I was thrilled when she passed about 15 of them on to me.

The first thing I did with them was paint them with Pinty Plus spray chalk paint from I have several cans of this already open so I just used the colours I had handy. Because of our Swedish trip, I ended up leaving this job until the day before the party and I was slightly worried I’d be pushed for time. I needn’t have been concerned, after stuffing the tins with newspaper it literally took seconds to apply the first coat and then I left them to dry in the sun for about 15 minutes, before spending a few more seconds applying the top coat and finally the varnish. The whole thing from set up to having everything packed away was done well within an hour.

The next day I used an off cut of the blackboard vinyl we bought for our kitchen wall to make small chalkboard labels for the tins so the kids could use a chalkboard pen to add their names to their chosen tin. You can actually buy ready cut chalkboard labels from Amazon, but they aren’t cheap and I was after all, trying to use up waste!

I then divided up a pack of stickers I had bought, putting two into each tin. After the kids had eaten I let them all choose a tin and then decorate it by using the stickers and chalkboard pens…

When the children had completed their works of art I added a small paper bag with half a dozen sweets inside and a satsuma to each one.

Here are a few more zero waste party tin filler ideas..

Popcorn in paper bags
Wooden bracelets
Wooden yoyo
Plant seeds
Colouring in sheets printed from the internet
Remoulded crayons
Homemade beanbags
Slice of cake

And some more ideas on my Pinterest board…


If you are wondering how I fared with my other two waste concerns, we cooked pizza for adults and kids and nothing was left of it at the end at all and as regards gifts, without any hints or coercion all the wonderful parents bought brilliant plastic free (yay!) gifts for Theo… I needn’t have worried!

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I’ve been blogging for 12 years and making creative content for my entire working life. I am a marketeer and stock photographer by day, but I also love to make : cooking, sewing and upcycling! On this blog I share stories of creative family living as well as my photography and videos. If you’d like to get in touch, please email me. (link at top of page)
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Hello. I'm Clare.
I'm a photographer, maker & marketeer based on the West Sussex/Hampshire border. This blog focuses on creative family living through photography, design, crafts and interiors. Read more