By Lindsay Viner - Associate Editor, Evite.com
Turn Over a New Leaf
You may not have started a compost pile in your back yard or sprung for that hybrid car you’ve been eyeing, but remember, going green isn’t an all-or-nothing endeavor. And it doesn’t have to break your budget. Adding a few inexpensive, eco-friendly elements to the way you entertain will make a lasting impression on guests while ensuring minimal impact on the environment.
Tablescapes for Tree-Huggers
Get resourceful with your centerpieces—create decorations that will last long after the party’s over. Instead of opting for cut flowers, use potted plants or herbs, which are sustainable and double as party favors. Fruits and vegetables come in every color imaginable and can be arranged just as beautifully as flowers. Stack lemons, limes or oranges in glass bowls to add a pop of vibrant, natural color to your tabletops. And a bouquet of artichokes in a terracotta vase lends a chic, earthy feel to any buffet.
When it comes to dishes and flatware, go for the real thing instead of disposable. If you’re short on settings, borrow from friends to create an eclectic, artfully mismatched look. And if the thought of doing dishes makes you crazed, look for bamboo products. They’re infinitely more stylish than paper or plastic, and they biodegrade in less than six months.
As the adage suggests, buying locally really does make a global impact. Be sure to support local farmers when getting the ingredients for your menu. Buying from farmers’ markets cuts down on the energy needed to ship the food as well as the waste that comes from packaging. As an added bonus, these markets usually have much fresher produce than what you’ll find at your supermarket.
Finger foods always make for great party eats and reduce the amount of dishes to be done or plates that need to be recycled after your fête. Think beyond chips and dips and venture into bite-size hors d’oeuvres, savory mini-tarts and elegant canapés. Guests will appreciate being able to mill around without having to juggle plates, forks and glasses.
Let There Be Light
It just so happens that the most earth-friendly way to light your event is also the most beautiful. Nothing accents a party quite like natural light, and nature gives us a bevy of lighting options to choose from. Host your barbeque at midday; the light is bright and will keep guests energized. For an upscale affair, hold cocktails at dusk when the backdrop of sunset makes guests look and feel their most glamorous. In the evening, beeswax or soy candles will give your celebration a gilded glow. When light bulbs are needed, illuminate with compact fluorescent bulbs, which will leave the smallest possible carbon footprint.
The Earth-Friendly Invite
Forget the paper invitations. Sending online Evite invitations not only make it easy for hosts and guests to keep tabs on who’s coming, they also eliminate waste. And best of all, they’re free. From pre-party save-the-dates to post-party thank-you notes, going digital helps cut back on the four billion trees forested each year for paper products.
As these easy tips show, hosting an eco-friendly affair doesn’t have to mean sacrificing style or substance. Just by adding a little environmental awareness to your party planning, you can save money while helping save the earth.