How to Throw a Plastic-Free Party for Any Occasion
Let's party (hold the plastic)
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Low-Waste, Sustainable Party Tips for Your Next Gathering
I love hosting parties, large and small, but have never bought into the idea that hosting has to be complicated, overwhelming, or wasteful. I’m sharing my top tips below so you can take the stress out of your next event while prioritizing sustainability.
No surprise here, but I don’t get too fancy when it comes to decor. During the winter holidays I put up a pretty white snowflake garland coupled with some white votive candles, and large bouquets of fresh-cut greenery. The rest of the year, I just do a few bouquets of seasonal flowers, and maybe a festive felt garland and some paper confetti for birthday celebrations. Pro tip: You can make your own DIY confetti with a hole punch and some leaves, construction paper, or tissue paper. I don’t know who has time for this but it seems like a charming thing to do!
Set the Mood
In my opinion, music and lighting change everything. Have you ever been to a party where all the lights are on and there’s no music? (a solid recipe for human awkwardness at its finest). Are you even at a party? For evening parties and gatherings, I keep the lighting dim and the music low, so people can chat. I always love eating by candlelight, and we don’t get fancy with tablescapes or elaborate decor. Just consider the mood you want to create for your guests, and add a few thoughtful details.
Use What You’ve Got
Parties can create a lot of waste, so we’ve made a few simple changes to be more sustainable when we host at home. Essentially we just use what we already own. We use our existing plates, bowls, cutting boards, and serving platters for party food, and focus on serving non-fussy finger foods and casual bites - abundant plates full of cheese, crudites, and charcuterie boards are always a hit. We also make or pick up pizza from our favorite local bakery, and cut the pies into small squares, sprinkle with Italian parsley and a drizzle of olive oil, and display on large wooden boards. So easy and such a crowd pleaser.
Biodegradable or Bust
A few years ago, I invested in a couple dozen small glass tumblers that can be used for wine, water, or cocktails, that we store year round in our dining room cabinets. For much larger parties, and kid-centered events, we skip the plastic and opt for compostable plates, forks, and napkins. I also make sure to set out a few oversized baskets lined with compostable paper bags so at the end of the party we can just toss everything into our green bin. Zero waste and zero plastic!
Skip the Favors (or make them consumable)
Do your guests and the environment a favor, and skip the favors! If you simply can’t bear the thought of sending your guests home empty handed, opt for something consumable like warm chocolate chip cookies in a kraft paper bag. Then opt to invite me to your party because I love warm cookies.
Keep it Simple, Really
The truth is that the best parties I’ve been to aren’t the most fancy or elaborate, they’re just the most thoughtful. As long as you make sure your guests feel welcomed in your home, and provide something good to eat, drink and chat about, your gathering will be a success. And music. Always music. No one actually cares if your home is a little messy, or if you ordered food or labored over a hot stove for hours. Kettle corn, potato chips, some bubbly, and good conversation go a long way in my book.
Got any eco-friendly, or just plain useful, party tips to share? Please share with the class in the comments below.
Photography Credit: Vivian Johnson
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