Whether it’s a wedding, Christmas dinner or a birthday, throwing an eco friendly party is easier than you think! Here are some of my best tips
By Chere Di Boscio
Under the warmer sun, patios bloom with cold drinks and hot conversations. Barbecues get fired up, drinks nights quickly spill out into the garden, and the music goes on all night. As for winter, well – it’s not called the ‘holiday season’ for nothing! Families and friends gather for Christmas, Thanksgiving, and New Year’s Eve feasts and fetes.
Of course, these festivities are a lot of fun. But with all the food waste, disposable utensils and wrapping paper, how can you throw the ultimate eco friendly party? It is possible! It just takes a bit of planning.
I’ve hosted enough events in my house and at other venues to have become something of an expert in this area. And I’d love to share my top tips for throwing an eco friendly party with you!
10 Tips For Throwing An Eco Friendly Party
1. Rethink your party decor
Sure, you want your venue to look festive. But the days of buying one-off (plasticky!) party decor are so over. Streamers, balloons, and banners are fun for a few hours, but they create a lot of waste. Still, if you feel a party isn’t a party without lots of decor stating, “It’s party time,” choose generic paper banners or bunting instead of customised ones that say ‘Happy 30th’, for example. That way, you can save them and use them for your next bash.
Paper is beautiful, recyclable, and versatile. But you can also get a bit creative with your materials. For example:
- Use rose petals as confetti or scatter them to decorate your table.
- Display images of the guest of honour in a simple picture frame set around the house.
- Use tea lights on the lawn or table to create ambiance.
- Fill Mason jars with flowers or colourful candies.
- Learn how to make tissue paper flowers (pictured above) you can use again and again.
But for the ultimate eco friendly party tip, why not decorate with plants and flowers? Grab some wildflowers or branches and pair them with a contrasting table cloth, or buy little succulents and dot them around the table.
Bonus: The picture frames, tea lights, Mason jars and other decor ideas above can also be given away to guests as party favours!
2. Go digital with your invitations
To throw an eco friendly party, just invite everyone via virtual invites. Not only will you be saving yourself some money, but you will also be consuming less and producing less waste. It’s a win-win all around.
And when you send your digital invitation, why not brag a little and let the guests know that you’re throwing an eco-friendly party? It will help them understand any non-traditional choices you make in the pursuit of your eco-friendly soiree.
3. Patronise local veggie businesses
It’s important to think about where your food is coming from, when planning an eco friendly party.
The more locally you shop for your food, the less fuel it takes to get those products to your house. And the more plant-based your menu is, the more sustainable it is, for sure. Shop at your local grocery store or visit the local farmer’s market to save CO2, and work on creating a vegan or vegetarian based menu.
I promise that there are so many great options for this, even the most hardcore carnivore will leave your fiesta satisfied! Check here for some much-loved recipe ideas that everyone will love!
Plus, giving your patronage to local farms and sellers boosts your local economy. And of course, the flavors will be tastier the fresher the produce is.
4. Avoid paper plates and plastic utensils
Most people hate doing dishes. But using real plates and cutlery is far more eco friendly than even using paper plates and bamboo utensils that you’re just going to throw away.
If you’re afraid of smashed plates at your eco friendly party, consider a finger-food only menu. Provide toothpicks for foods that are too messy to eat with fingers alone. Guests will eat smaller portions and only what can be picked up with their hands. This will be better for waistlines, your budget, and the amount of waste and cleanup at the end of the day.
If that’s not possible, stock up on extra steel utensils. And of course, that includes using steel (or bamboo) straws instead of plastic ones. You can use them again and again. And really, is it that much trouble to rinse off a fork?
5. Have a food leftover plan
Food waste is real, and it often begins with not knowing how many guests will show up. Not having enough food to feed everyone is a host’s worst nightmare, so we often overcook and over-prepare.
The fact is, it’s not that hard to plan for portions. Think of how many adults will be there, how many kids, and work it out. If your guests end up not having much of an appetite, have a contingency plan in place for handling the leftovers. For example, use them for lunches for the next few days, or pack little doggie bags for all the guests to take home with them.
Another great idea is not to put out all the food on display at once, and only refill plates when needed. This way, you can leave party food like cupcakes and sandwiches in the fridge that can more easily be frozen for school lunchboxes if they don’t get eaten at the party.
6. Enlist guests’ help with dividing up trash
As part of your eco friendly party decor, and to give a little nudge toward education on recyclables, make sure you have a clear trash division station. Have a bin for bottles. A bin for food scraps. A bin for cartons. A bin for plastics. You get the idea. For a more festive feel (this is a party after all), why not get an artistically inclined friend to draw a picture illustrating what type of trash goes in each bin?
7. Insist on sustainable gifts
As adults, do we really need to receive gifts still? If your answer is a hearty YES, at least ask for guests to buy you services, like massages and beauty treatments, rather than stuff. In the case that you actually really do need or want physical gifts, give guests a specific gift list. For example, newlyweds can share their bridal registry online, or you can suggest to your guests that for your housewarming, you would love it if they could just buy gift certificates for your favourite department store. Or better yet, plants!
To have an eco friendly party for kids, insist on a ‘no plastic’ gifts theme, and insist all presents are wrapped in old newspapers or recyclable butcher’s paper.
8. Keep games simple
If you’re having an eco friendly party for kids, there’s no need to buy games like ‘pin the tail on the donkey’ or a karaoke machine. Instead, go old school! Spark their creativity by giving them chalk to draw with outside, or plan a nature-based scavenger hunts, egg-and-spoon race or obstacle course in your local park. Nature and outdoor games provide limitless potential for kids to discover, explore and create.
9. Remember: noise is pollution, too
This is one of the least thought issues when planning an eco friendly party. Even if all your food is vegan and organic and you’re recycling everything at your event, if you’re blasting tunes well past midnight, your neighbours will be suffering from noise pollution (and your guests may well be, too!). And when I say ‘neighbours,’ I mean humans – and animals. Birds and wildlife are especially sensitive to noise, and if things go really late, it can upset their circadian rhythms. Remember to be courteous!
10. Give an eco friendly party favour
If you’re planning a wedding or another event that entails party favours, make sure they’re eco friendly.
Not sure what that entails? It should be sourced ethically and have a small environmental footprint, whether in its creation or in its consumption. For example? Consider whipping up a batch of your famous no-bake bliss balls as a party favour, or some other homemade treat.
Alternatively, if you’ve bought steel or bamboo straws for the event, allow guests to take them home so they never have to accept another plastic straw!
For weddings, I love the idea of giving guests seedlings they can plant at home to remember your special day.