It’s the holiday season and time for celebrations, parties, and gatherings of all manner. From November 1 to January 15, there are 29 different holidays celebrated by seven of the world’s major religions. So there is a good chance you’ll be hosting or attending a shindig or two. Changing your mindset about parties is one of the first things to tackle. Move away from processed, one-time-use, cheap plastic, shiny foils, and papers that can’t be recycled. And instead, start to look at your events as ways to share your deeper values of a sustainable lifestyle. Repurpose, homemade, potluck, local, creative… these are the foundational elements of throwing an eco-friendly party.

Eco-Friendly Invitations

As most of us communicate in the digital world you probably would send out your invitations digitally as a first choice. 

  • If you like the feel of sending out paper invitations, just make sure it’s a greener option such as 100 percent post-consumer recycled paper, or seed paper that can be planted.
  • Or get crafty with upcycled arts and crafts supplies by making your own cards and envelopes.

Eco-Friendly Holiday Party Decorations

Following that new mindset of reusing, rethinking, and upcycling, you might have an abundance of decorations already in your home.

  • Mason jars (any clear glass containers)- use to hold candles and display in groups; add bobbles and beads for colorful accents; fill with objects from nature- nuts, berries, mini pinecones.
  • Cookie cutters– tie with string or ribbon and hang on branches, your tree, or in a window frame.
  • Paper crafts– making paper snowflakes and hanging them from the ceiling is a lovely look. Paper garlands in leaf or bulb shapes, origami trees, and many more ideas to make festive paper-themed decorations.
  • Secondhand shops– these are also great places to find recycled holiday decorations and are an eco-friendly choice. 

Smart Food Planning 

When it comes to party food, the number one thing you can do to make it eco-friendly is to buy organic and buy from local farmers, vendors, and small business owner’s stores. The next best thing to do to make your party eco-friendly with the menu is to plan.

  • Planning the menu ahead of time decreases food waste (which is a BIG problem in America). 
  • When shopping, consider how many people will attend and how many guests you will cook for. 
  • Don’t purchase food that is on sale just because it’s cheap. Everything you buy beyond what you really need for your planned meal can possibly end up in the trash.
  • Don’t over-prepare too much food. People come together to enjoy themselves and have fun by spending time together.
  • Serve food buffet-style so guests can help themselves to as little or as much as they’d like.
  • Make large batches of drinks to reduce serving individual beverages. For example, sangria punch, eggnog, hot chocolate, or iced tea and coffee can all be served in punch bowls or pitchers.
  • When the party’s over, distribute takeaways to your guests or freeze any leftovers, that way nothing will go to waste.

Skip The Plastic & Disposables

Your eco-friendly party is the time to bring out the fine china, utensils, and cloth napkins. 

  • Use glass or any other reusable materials for your food and service ware. 
  • Plastic straws are a definite no-no. Replace them with metal or paper straws. Bonus: you will reuse them over and over again.
  • Napkins- colorful fabric napkins are the way to go. When the party’s over, toss them into the wash and all the hard work is done for you.
  • Another option is to pool resources from several guests for large gatherings. 
  • Or even go as far as to ask guests to bring their own glasses and utensils.

Set Up a Recycling & Composting Station

Make it super easy for your guests to understand what goes where. 

  • Set up and label your recycling and compost bins in the kitchen. 
  • One bin for glass bottles, beer cans, and such; one for compost such as food scrapes; and a bin in the sink for washable and reusable items.
  • Paper- all non-glossy wrapping paper can be shredded for the compost or added to the recycling bins. Keep the bows and ribbons for multiple uses, as well as tissue paper, gift bags, and boxes. Food packaging and containers should be rinsed and recycled as well.

Eco-Friendly Party Games 

Holidays are about friends and family (giving and receiving, sharing and serving too). And the definition of a party means having a good time. 

  • Instead of playing games that require buying specific things (electronics, sports equipment, etc.) opt for eco-friendly activities like charades, or board games.
  • Some of the best games require no boards or accessories, just imagination. Here’s a fun list where paper and pen are all that is needed. And one for adult imagination-related games, like Two Truths & A Lie, Who Am I, etc.
  • Eco-friendly prizes or gifts– go with more thoughtful, waste-free gifts ideas versus material gifts such as day passes to museums or classes, gift cards to local businesses, propagated plants or potted herbs with instructions for growing, baked goods, or waste-reducing items like reusable straws, to-go mugs, and tote bags.

Eco-Friendly Party That Gives Back 

Holiday time is when those in need could use additional caring and donations.

  • Invite your guests to bring a few canned goods for the local holiday food drive.
  • Or have a winter clothing donation collection for coats, sweaters, hats, gloves, and socks that guests no longer want and can go to those experiencing homelessness. 


To make your eco-friendly holiday party fun keep the educational talk about green efforts positive. Hopefully, by sharing your sustainable practices, your guests will be curious and inspired about hosting green parties and other eco-friendly practices as well.

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