6 Ways to Throw an Eco-Friendly Party at Home

Raise a glass to sustainability with these at-home entertaining ideas.

If the thought of hosting a birthday party conjures images of colorful theme plates or elaborate balloon displays, you're not alone. But as entertaining at home becomes even more popular post-pandemic, it's time to rethink how much waste these gatherings create. Hosting friends and family at your home is an easy way to get everyone together for a celebration, but you don't have to sacrifice sustainability to throw a great party.

We've put together our best eco-friendly entertaining ideas to help you plan your next backyard bash. With easy swaps, like compostable utensils and repurposed party decor, you can plan a fun and sustainable celebration.

table setting with peonies and strawberry beverages
Matt Armendariz

1. Send Digital Invites

Consider sending digital invites for at-home events, like backyard rehearsal dinners or baby showers, that typically require a paper invitation. You can still create pretty correspondence (sites like Canva help you design a digital invitation for free) to text or email to your guests. Plus, you'll save on postage and avoid all the paper and envelopes being tossed in the trash.

2. Repurpose Home Decor

It can be tempting to hit the party supply store for cheap decorations that fit your theme but try to swap one-time-use decor for accessories that can be reused. Repurpose home decor items instead of buying party supplies that'll get tossed after the event. Use picture frames from around the house to frame printed images that fit the party theme, or grab a garland from your seasonal bin to decorate the snack table. And you can never go wrong with small arrangements of fresh-cut flowers! If you decide to buy something new for the celebration, look for pieces that can be used again later.

3. Make It a Potluck

There's nothing worse than overestimating the amount of food you need for a party, only to end up with platters full of appetizers that go uneaten all night. To avoid food waste, get a firm headcount before the event to make an educated guess about how much food you'll need. For casual gatherings, packaged snacks like chips or pretzels are a good option because you can save or donate unopened bags if you buy too much food.

Or, turn the celebration into a potluck! Not only will it ensure there will be enough food for everyone, you know there will be at least one food everyone will enjoy. Plus, guests can take home their leftovers at the end of the evening.

4. Avoid Disposable Plates and Utensils

While you can find a paper plate for just about any party theme, the vast majority of this disposable dishware can't be recycled. Instead, opt for reusable dishes you already have (even if they're mismatched!) to help both your wallet and the environment. Be sure to start the day with an empty dishwasher so guests can load their own dishes to avoid a pileup in the sink.

Sometimes using disposable dishware is unavoidable, like if you're hosting a party in the park or don't have enough plates for everyone invited. In this case, look for recyclable or compostable dishes and utensils. The brand Repurpose has plenty of compostable products (and they're made from plants!) that are better for the planet than their plastic counterparts.

5. Put Out a Recycling Bin

Single-use drink containers are pretty much unavoidable at BYOB gatherings, but most of them can be recycled once they're empty. Set out a recycling bin or box where guests can dispose of empty cans and wine bottles as they're finished. After the celebration, sort through them according to your area's recycling guidelines. You might need to make a separate trip to recycle the glassware if your recycling pickup doesn't allow for it.

6. Skip the Party Favors

It's customary to hand out party favors at events like children's birthday parties or baby showers, but they often get tossed after the event. Take the amount you would've spent on cellophane-wrapped treats and make a donation to a charity that fits the party theme. If you're hosting the event for an individual person (like a birthday party) let them pick the charity.

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