From napkins and servingware to bottles of wine and flowers for the table, there are dozens ways to unintentionally create waste (and find items you can spend money on) when hosting an event — whether you’re entertaining a few friends for dinner or throwing the shindig of the season. Fortunately, there are just as many ways to give a great party (mellow or rockin’) while minimizing the monetary and environmental cost.
One of my favorites is a classic: Replacing disposable napkins with cloth. Given the array of fabrics available — at the local shop or waiting to be repurposed from a (no longer functional) favorite blouse, pillow case, etc. — cloth napkins can be elegant or whimsical, funny or minimalist. And when they’ve run their course on the social circuit, they can be retired as cleaning rags.
Speaking of repurposed, flea markets and garage sales are great places to find unusual, inexpensive silverware, and you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding a set, though I love an eclectic mix of styles to keep things interesting. (For quirky silverware, vintage plates and platters, cloth napkins, and more, you can also check out Etsy, an online marketplace for handmade and vintage goods.)
In addition to reducing one-use items, another obvious trick is to make your edible goodies (or buy them at the farmers market) rather than purchasing store items that often come in multiple layers of packaging. Homemade lemonade or homebrewed beer can make any party, and homemade dishes and beverages make for fun conversation — people will wonder where you found such treats, recipes can be swapped, and all will remember that amazing sweet corn served with homemade butter. Homemade goods are delicious, and including local offerings and sharing your coveted sweet tea recipe adds to the community vibe of your soirée.
What are your favorite fun ways to throw a party that's low on eco-impact and rich with enjoyment?
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