September 1, 2014

How to Host an Eco-Friendly Holiday Party

Hosting a party for your employees or customers is a nice way to spread some goodwill around the holiday season. It’s also a chance to reinforce your commitment to being environmentally conscious. After all, a party can create a huge clutter of unnecessary waste if you’re not careful.

How you throw a party also reflects on your business, and everything from the food you serve to the dishes you use to the party favors you hand out can either suggest your business is committed to environmental sustainability – or scream that it’s very much not.

Here are some tips for throwing an eco-friendly party:

Serve Earth-Friendly Foods

A holiday spread with off-season foods (such as lettuce and tomato salads in December) or foreign delicacies such as French cheese means you’re burning a lot more fossil fuels to bring the food to your table.

Try as much as possible to source foods locally and pick those with USDA organic or similar labels that indicate more sustainable practices went into the production of the food.  With the extra energy and water that goes into raising livestock, also make sure to include some meat-free dishes. (Your vegetarian guests will thank you, too.)

Go Local With the Drink

With the craft beer boom taking place in many parts of the country, it should also be less of a problem to find a local brew to serve up at the holiday gathering. If you’re going you want to serve soda, go with aluminum cans instead of plastic bottles, because aluminum cans are easier to recycle.

Remember to recycle the cans.

Think Green With the Dishes and Decorations

If possible, use reusable dishware and utensils at your party, since that will create little or no waste beyond the water to wash them. If that’s not feasible, at least look for eco-friendly alternatives, such as biodegradable or compostable dishes and silverware – which several major retailers now sell.  Also think of creative, low-waste ways to decorate, such as using holiday lights from home or reusing decorations from past events.

Want to have a Christmas tree? A real tree from a local tree farm may take less of an environmental toll than a plastic tree, unless you plan to keep and reuse the plastic tree for many years.

Wrap in a Donation

Instead of handing out party favors, which often get tossed anyway, consider making a donation to a nonprofit in your community – environmental or not.

It’s a good chance to bring attention to an important cause.

Consider Outsourcing

Looking to splurge on the holiday party by taking your employees or other guests to a posh location for a blowout? Many restaurants and event facilities, as well as caterers, now tout their eco-friendly practices and services – so you don’t have to worry so much about it.

For more inspiration for eco-friendly event planning check out “How to Throw a Green Party” on Epicurious. There are also some “Easy Eco-Friendly Party” ideas on The Nest and “7 Stylish (and Eco-Friendly) Party Ideas” on Oprah.

Eco Friendly Holiday Photo via Shutterstock

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Kelly Spors


Kelly Spors Kelly Spors is a former small-business and entrepreneurship reporter and blogger for The Wall Street Journal who has also written for Yahoo!, Entrepreneur, NFIB's MyBusiness magazine and The New York Times. Kelly is now a freelance editor and writer based in Minneapolis and has previously managed communications for an environmental non-profit that helps businesses find ways to be greener.

4 Reactions

  1. Great tips for the holidays. One of my favorite parts of the season is holiday parties, next to Holiday movies :)

  2. I want to have a company party! That’s the disadvantage of working alone with one freelancer. We just go to lunch with wine as an alternative. But I can use your tips for my personal holiday party!

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