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Party Hosting with Sustainable Style

bday2I’ve missed writing the last couple weeks! It was my birthday last weekend and there’s always a fluster of activity around my house, with friends and family coming to stay for the entire weekend. We call it the Gemini Party because we celebrate at least three May birthdays, but I consider it my annual thank you party – I celebrate friends, family and just being alive.

As I was cleaning up after it was all over, first I realized there were many simple things I and others did that helped keep the waste down from the two-day party.

According to the Clean Air Council, “every year, Americans throw away enough paper and plastic cups, forks, and spoons to circle the equator 300 times.” 

Isn’t that just crazy?! I like to do my part in stemming the tide of garbage, no matter how strong that tide is. I imagine you feel the same way if you’re reading this, so…

Here are six things to keep a house party green, whether it’s a work potluck, children’s birthday party or another kind of gathering:

1. Use reusable plates, cups and utensils. Yes, it takes water to wash them, but to me being able to use them year after year is the most important thing. Second hand stores have amazing selections of both plastic and other options.


2. If you’re doing a potluck, let guests know ahead of time that you’re into organic, home made and fresh garden items. Don’t be shy – you never know when your honesty will help influence someone else’s life choices…

3. Use reusable cloth napkins. I know, it take water to wash them, but again, it’s less materials shipped around the world to wipe your dirty hands, and less waste in the landfills.

4. Collect interesting fabric to use for table cloths and decorations. Rather than use disposable plastic or other decorations, keep colorful fabric swatches around and lay them out on tables for color and fun. I love finding cool fabric swatches at second hand stores – I have a drawer full of large fabric pieces to choose from, with everything from plain colors to flowers to sheer materials. After the party I just I toss them in the washing machine with my fabric napkins, and on sunny days I hang dry them.


5. Bake your own cake or ask someone to bring it as a potluck item. Home made cakes always taste better than store bought ones, especially when they’re baked with love! I have two friends who love to bake and who make DELICIOUS treats, so I ask them each year to bring whatever cake-like item they want to make.

6. Give sustainable gifts. Whether in a gift bag for each guest or for a special birthday guest, a small thoughtful, sustainable gift can carry more meaning than a fancy, unsustainable item. For example, my friend always gives me a fair trade, organic chocolate bar – I love these not only because they’re chocolate (duh), but because she knows my desire to have a positive impact with purchases.


fair trade






Anyone who knows me knows I love to throw a party, and with these simple steps I can feel good about doing so as many times a year as I please.

One more thing I do for my smaller parties is to ask guests to scour their closets and cupboards for clothes and other items they don’t wear or use, then bring them to the party. When the time feels right, we have “naked lady party” time where we pile everything on my bed, then dig through and try things on. Everyone goes home with something! I’ll write more about naked lady parties later…

For more green party ideas, visit Green Planet Parties

Visit the Clean Air Council for more garbage and recycling facts.

I’d love to hear what you do to keep waste down at parties!

Happy Partying!


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