Spring is here! You know what that means? It’s party time! Sustainable party time!
Between September and New Year it seems like every weekend is taken up by a rolling series of barbecues, weddings, kids’ birthdays, dinner parties… not to mention Halloween, which has gone from curious American import to an excellent excuse for Bloody Marys and pumpkin scones.
If you’re anything like us, the temptation to organise events you’re throwing at the last minute inevitably leads to hurried shopping trips the morning-of, snatching up handfuls of supermarket brand napkins and 3-for-2 dip medleys. At this point party sustainability usually goes out the window, and you find yourself wondering how much the neighbours would hate you if you stuffed a few bags of plastic cutlery and crusty salad into their rubbish bin.
That’s why we put together this inspiration-board-cum-shopping-list! It’s packed with eco-friendly and Fairtrade party purchases, plus a few DIY options and other assorted goodies. To go with it, here is our definitive eco party planning guide. We’ve thought of it all – from waste management, to decorations, to invitations and party bags for the little ones. Make your next shindig the best and most sustainable one yet!
The most important part of any gathering, some might say! You know the drill: make sure you’ve got a guest list and budget sorted before anything else, and a rough idea of what type of party it will be. It’s important to know these things beforehand so that you don’t end up over- or under-purchasing your supplies – nobody likes hungry guests, or dealing with mountains of surplus leftovers. Check out this quantity guide if you’re unsure of how much food and drink to supply per guest – scale down if you’re feeding smaller mouths!
- Try seasonal food options, and plan your menu, whether it’s a buffet, a sit-down meal, or a table of hors d’oeuvres, around a few fresh, easily available ingredients. Check the Seasonal Food Guide for what will be around when you’re hosting.
- Entertaining is a great opportunity to buy lots of locally produced fruit, veggies, meat and dairy! Flavour Crusader has a great list of directories where you can pick up fresh, delicious food close to home.
- Buying dip is the ultimate fool’s game. Dip can be made ahead of time, and doing it yourself is a sure fire way to impress your guests with quality that’s miles better than bought. Here are a few of our favourites:
o Melitzanosalata, or Greek smoky eggplant dip
- If you’re having a barbecue (and why wouldn’t you be), SBS food has a huge recipe collection of BBQ delights from around the world.
- Try to minimise the amount of meat dishes, even if the ones you make are locally sourced. Smitten Kitchen’s party food collection contains heaps of recipes perfect to feed a crowd, and most of them are vegetarian/vegan.
- Op shops, op shops, op shops. Why use disposable plates, cups and cutlery when you can buy a dedicated set of charmingly mismatched crockery to use for parties? Yes, this option does involve a bit more washing up, but trust us – it’s not that bad! See Otter’s Op Shopping Tips for more.
- Go for cloth napkins over paper. Vintage napkins are often beautiful, and if you’re feeling crafty you can make some yourself out of old clothes or sheets. Same goes for tablecloths and place mats!
- Try reusable straws, or be a straw-free event. Plastic straws are hugely wasteful, and we don’t think your guests will miss them that much.
Entertainment and decorations
- Remember DJs? No, we don’t either. These days, music is as simple as hooking your player of choice up to a set of speakers. If you don’t have your own speakers, ask a guest to bring some. We like streaming music service Spotify, which has a huge selection of premade playlists for every mood and occasion. If you’re not a fan, it’s very easy to make your own.
- Try this easy, no-sew DIY bunting for a touch of twee charm. You can make it in any fabric and it can be used over and over again.
- Solar fairy lights are good option for nighttime gatherings.
- Avoid releasing helium balloons, which can cause environmental damage when they come back down again. If you can bear it, consider giving balloons a miss altogether and using something else instead! Try these handmade paper decorations, which can be constructed using wastepaper or recycled materials and decorated however you like.
- Consider asking guests to bring some flowers from their garden! Much more eco-friendly than alternatives, and probably less tacky too.
- There’s nothing we can say about eco-friendly lolly bags that hasn’t already been covered in this great blog post, which recommends paper bags and careful treat selection.
If you have any other eco party tips, leave them in the comments below!
Kaitlyn Rose, fruit platter (CC)