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Five Tips to Host a Zero-Waste Holiday Party This Year

zero waste holiday party

Americans throw away a staggering 25% more trash during the holidays than at any other time of the year. All that extra waste adds up to about 25 million tons of garbage. Most of it is attributed to over consumption and gift giving, but parties and gatherings can take their toll on the planet too.

Friends and family enjoy gathering to celebrate the holidays and new year, but you might be concerned about the impact these events could have on the planet. Fortunately, a zero-waste holiday party is inexpensive, easy to plan and more festive. Here are a few of our top tips for hosting a zero-waste holiday party:

1. Digital Invitations

We live in the electronic age which means paper invitations are unnecessary. You can build a beautiful, individual invitation on a site like Paperless Post and send them via email. In the invitation, you can explain your eco-friendly angle for the party and ask your guests to respect certain guiding principals as they prepare and attend the event.

2. Sustainable Gifts

Even if you ask for no hostess gifts, many guests feel obligated to bring one. The best approach is to ask that if people do feel inclined to bring a gift, give it in a sustainable way. Suggest that they bring repurposed items, bring items that can be used up, or regift something they already have. Suggest that they leave it unwrapped, or wrap with fabric using Furoshiki (Japanese fabric wrapping) or wrap in recycled paper. Skip the bows and opt for reusable string, twine or no ribbon at all.

3. Real Dishes

You’ll not only reduce a lot waste, but your food and drink will look nicer when you use real serving platters, dinner plates, cutlery and glasses instead of disposable paper or plastic. You’ll also save money otherwise spent on disposables. Try to avoid paper napkins as well and opt for cloth that can be easily washed and reused. Cloth dinner and cocktail napkins are easy to make with scrap fabric and add a nice touch to a holiday party. If you need to purchase reusable dishes or glasses, check your local thrift store for mix-and-match options.

4. Natural Decorations

The key to zero-waste decorations is to rely on nature’s beauty during this time of year. Potted plants and seasonal flowers brighten up any space. Soy or beeswax candles in reusable glass jars provide a soft, non-toxic light, and accents like river stones add a unique touch. Homemade wreaths, garlands and pinecones are an easy way to bring the outdoors in and add natural fragrance to the room.

5. Homemade Food

When it comes to refreshments, organic, locally produced food is always your best option. This is true not just for your holiday party, but for every day of the week. Many recipes can be made ahead of time from scratch. We’ve got healthy and delicious holiday recipe ideas to share. Make sure to compost cooking scraps and leftovers. If you’re not sure what can be composted, review this quick composting guide. Store leftovers in airtight reusable containers and skip the plastic wrap or plastic baggies.

As you plan your zero-waste holiday party remember that it can be as complex or simple as you want. The key is to use these guidelines as a foundation and let your guests know what to expect ahead of time.