Putting on a dinner party can be a big event. Even if there are only a few people on the invitation list it can take a lot of planning to produce it. From the decorations to the menu, it can be done with an environmental focus.
With a little conscious preparation you can throw a party where your appreciation for guests and sustainably are evident in the details.
Usually for a dinner event the focus is on the food, but other ways to save economically and on your ecological output are by using digital invitations instead of traditional paper types, as well as not spending money on things like centerpieces. Instead, put simple fresh fruit arrangements, branches or other natural decorations from the yard on the table.
When planning the menu revolve it around what is available at local whole foods or farmer’s markets and opt for fair trade and ethically produced choices. Also, if any guests have an herb or vegetable garden ask them to contribute somehow to the meal by bringing something seasonal that can be easily prepared and added to the table. For example, tomato or cucumber slices topped with cheeses or favorite dips are modest but healthy finger foods and don’t require much fuss to set out.
In addition to serving eco-friendly foods, another idea is to inquire at a food market if they have any new items they are thinking about offering and would like to showcase samples of them for tasters to try at your party. Often local food owners welcome the opportunity for some spontaneous advertising to potential new customers.
Also, check if there are places in your area that have donate a dinner programs when you are shopping. Some stores will have items where the proceeds are given to a charity or have food bank donations available on site.
Action that starts with your table but reaches even further are fundraising events like Cook for the Cure that support the Susan G. Komen foundation. Raising money for breast cancer research, this features a Pass the Plate program in which a ceramic serving plate holds a dish to be shared, then passed along to repeat the gesture. Each time it is passed around and registered KitchenAid donates $5 to the organization. Once registered, pictures, recipes and details about sharing the plate can be viewed by participants.
If you do not have a fully stocked dinner service at your disposal for a party dinnerware can be an issue, especially if throwing a large event. It may be an easier route to opt for the disposable, but consider renting dining necessities from a company. This is an option that lends to less waste and allows you to serve your food on nice tableware.
Also, the end of the party details like the clean-up, are not the most fun so they may be left out of the planning. Don’t forget to put out clearly labeled recycling bins or compost containers next to trash receptacles to leave the guesswork out for visitors and make tidying up easier.
Sending guests home with a party favor is a way to leave them with a reminder of a great evening. Instead of plastic trinkets or throwaway items, send something to savor later. A mini portion of an item served at the party, such as the dessert topped with a bit of a twist, like a seasonal decoration from outside or an organic edible flower is a nice gesture.
Available from cake shops, bakeries or farmer’s markets, edible flowers like pansies and violets can be found year round and turn leftovers into a high-end treat. Have favors ready to go for guests in recycled containers, cupcake liners or wrapped in parchment paper instead of plastic containers and they will have a beautiful presentation that carries a tasty little reminder of the event.
Having an eco-minded dinner party doesn’t have to frazzle the host. Weaving greener ways in with important events is reason to gather around the table more often.
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