This one is easy, and required, for having an eco-friendly gathering: serve fresh, seasonal, organic, and responsibly raised or harvested food. Make your food purchases at farmers' markets and then pass along the information to your guests—you're not just serving pumpkin pie, you're serving "Local Heirloom Pumpkin Torte with an Organic Spelt Crust," or something like that. (Bonus points for your eco-friendly menu? It sounds, and tastes, all the more gourmet!) Here's another pro for your local and organics food list: fresher, seasonal ingredients will taste better with less work. For extra oomph, offer a wide selection of vegetarian options and very few meat options (if any).
Maybe your collection of environmentally conscious plates is still small, but don't let a large gathering deter you from being green. If you're looking to purchase plates, turn to this roundup for a good green selection. Or, get a smattering of different ones (cheap!) at thrift stores or garage sales; use their unique qualities to put together a stunning table display. Don't want to wind up washing all those dishes? Opt for compostable plates, or ask guests to bring their own. A plate potluck! Or, borrow a set of servingware from a hosting pro. Chances are, you've got an aunt or acquaintance with quite the collection, and they'd be happy to loan pieces to you (unless they're throwing a party the same night, of course).
Decorating in season is one of our favorite things, especially in the fall when squash centerpieces can go from decorations to dessert. Bring the outside in, using leaves, twigs and branches, or berries as design elements and then composting them after the party.
With organic wine, beer, and spirit choices popping up at every turn, this one is quickly becoming a no-brainer. Even better, opt for a local micro-brew or wine made from grapes grown in your neck of the woods. And for non-alcoholic bevs, skip the HFCS-laden sodas and instead turn to organic Italian sodas or fresh-brewed teas.
Giving gifts to your guests may fall in and out of favor, but we're fans of letting our guests take a piece of the party home. Make-ahead gifts like homemade granola or even small handmade soaps or candles might be a nice addition to your party.
Do you have any other green entertaining tips to share? Let us know!