Who doesn’t love a good holiday party?

With all the fun and festive decorations, delicious cocktails, and endless holiday-themed appetizers and desserts it is one of the best times of year to bring friends and family together and just enjoy the season of giving. 

Unfortunately, the holidays can also come with some not so eco-friendly practices, and can create a lot of waste that can really add up by the end of the holiday season. So this year why not make your holiday party a little more special by taking a sustainable approach to planning (and throwing) the ultimate holiday party your friends and family will be sure never to forget. 

1. Opt for Local

When it comes to planning your sustainable holiday party menu, one of the best places to start is with your food! Start by making a list of what you would like to serve for your holiday party and then see how much of your menu can be sourced locally. Next, head to your local farmers market (if you are lucky enough to live where there is one year round) or a local co-op, and ask for help making your menu a little more seasonal. Most of the time the farmers, or co-op clerks will have great ideas for ingredients you can substitute to make a delicious menu that is filled with primarily local ingredients. 

This not only will help support your local community, but also will help make your entire holiday party more sustainable by reducing the amount of energy required to get the food you will be serving on your table, and into the mouths of your guests. 


2. Cook With Intention

Whether we realize it or not, a lot of food waste happens when we cook that can be easily avoided. So for your next holiday party, make a point to put out a big bowl ahead of time that will catch all your vegetable scraps as you are preparing your holiday meal. Save these in the refrigerator to use later on to make a vegetable stock, and reduce food waste in the process. 


3. Deck The Halls!

One of the best parts about an amazing holiday party may very well be the decorations. So rather than asking you to skip them entirely, we want you to decorate away with reusable decorations and living plants that can last long after the holidays are over. One of our favorite ways to decorate for the holidays is by lighting lots of eco-friendly coconut-based candles, and decorating the dining table with succulents from a local greenhouse. After the party is over you will still have your succulents to spread throughout your home, and candles that can be used anytime of year, or saved for next year.


4. Ditch The Paper and Plastic

You are classy and eco-friendly, which means you are opting for glass and ceramic dishware to serve your guests with. While the upfront cost may be a little more expensive, you will save so much money (and trees!) in the long run by opting for reusables. Thrift stores are a great place to find mismatched dishware and flatware, and totally fit in with the sustainable vibe you are going for.    


5. Sip Sustainably

Every holiday party needs its drinks, and this is such a great place to focus on choosing options that have been made locally, or produced using sustainable methods. With countless craft breweries and distilleries popping up all over the country it is easier than ever to source most of your alcoholic beverages locally. Not to mention it makes for a good conversation starter, and is just another way you can impress your guests.


6. Get Your Guests Involved

If you really want to throw the ultimate sustainable holiday party it is important to get your guests involved. Encourage everyone to go for seconds during the meal, while also letting everyone know that you have a goal of creating as little food waste as possible. Make sure your guests know that you are recycling, and ask that any gifts that are brought to the party be purchased from a local small business. This is a fun way to get your guests involved and invested in the theme of the party, and excited about their own personal contributions. 


7. Share The Leftovers 

To avoid food waste, consider asking friends to bring a reusable tupperware from home to the party so that you can all share in the leftovers. Most people love bringing home leftover cookies or appetizers, and this is a great way to ensure that very little food goes to waste. 


8. Wrap It Up

Okay, so you have made it through to the end of the night. Your sustainable holiday party was a giant success from the drinks, to the food, to the décor and now it’s time to clean up. Instead of whipping out the plastic wrap to save any leftovers, think about investing in some reusable food wraps to keep your leftovers fresh. This will cut down on plastic, and in the long run is a much more cost-effective way to store leftover food.


Megan Faletra, MS, MPH, RDN, is a global health consultant, humanitarian, and founder of The Well Company, a global health consulting practice dedicated to addressing social justice in our food system, and health equity globally. Megan is a dual Italian/USA citizen and a self-proclaimed explorer at heart. She has worked on food security and global health programs throughout Central America, the Middle East, and Africa, and believes that by rethinking the way we choose to consume, we can change how we view the world, and most importantly how we impact it.