Garlands, mistletoe and reindeer decorations have started going up in shopping malls. Advent calendars are finally on sale at the supermarket. That only means one thing: the festive season is upon us once more. Invites for office parties, family dinners and end-of-year functions are piling into your email inbox like last minute goodies into your stocking on Christmas Eve. But before the the gluttony of the season has us getting ahead of ourselves, let’s take a moment to consider how we can host a wonderful dinner party for our loved ones and still be mindful of Mother Nature while we do it. Here is your festive guide to zero waste hosting:
GET A HEADCOUNT
Having plates of food left once everyone has gone home is one of the most disheartening things any environmentally-conscious host can see. If you insist a guest RSVP a few days before your dinner party, then you’ll know how many hungry bellies to cater for. No host worth their dining salt and pepper set doesn’t have a menu outlined a week in advance, so put your planning to good use. If you give your guests a rough idea of what their food options are, their RSVP can come with their desired meal choice. It might upset you to find that your deviled eggs aren’t as popular as you think, but rather cook what your guests will eat.
If you present a banquet of different dishes, diners will pick and choose what they want to eat. Your guests can control their own portions, and unless your potato salad is absolutely inedible, you can expect that everyone who dishes up a heaped spoon of it will finish their serving. Having platters of leftovers is easier to store than individual plates smeared with food that have pushed around by contaminated cutlery.
DITCH PAPER AND PLASTIC (DUH)
Washing up after hosting a dinner party is laborious. Just thinking about it is tires me out. But opting for plastic or non-degradable paper plates is an absolute no. If you don’t have enough cutlery or crockery for the amount of people you’ll be catering for, lend them from a friend or seek out inexpensive second hand kitchenware. Forgo the cling film when covering your dishes and use reusable material bowl covers instead. Tinfoil is another pesky material fore th earth that you can go without.
KEEP IT IN-HOUSE
Never has there been a better time to use herbs and spices from your personal garden. ‘Tis the season after all, so get festive with some great Christmas cranberry recipes if you have a vine growing in your backyard. Food is a labour of love, so why not impress your friends and family with the organic produce you’ve been cultivating. You’ll feel a great sense of pride nourishing your loved ones with ingredients you’ve grown with your own hands.
EDIBLE PARTY FAVOURS…
… is a fancier way of saying, “Here’s a doggy bag” to each dinner guest take home with them. Susan loved your turkey stuffing? Well Susan can take home a jar full of the stuffing and have some with her breakfast or add it to a salad. There is no reason you should have to gorge yourself on leftovers or risk watching them go off.
If your guests aren’t sold on the edible party favours idea, a number of mobile soup kitchens, children’s homes and shelters would certainly appreciate any food you and your guests can’t get through.
We are entering the season of giving thanks. Taking care of friends and family is always our first priority, but we too quickly forget that we need to honor the earth for having taken us on another trip around the sun. Robyn Smith writes about 5 Ways to Cut Down Christmas Waste.