Sweet Table (CC BY 2.0) by niner bakes

Green Tips: Holiday Gatherings

Green Tips | December 13, 2019

The holiday season is in full swing! There is usually a lot of planning that goes into holiday gatherings, including parties, religious ceremonies, or small get-togethers. Follow our tips for hosting a more environmentally-friendly yet fun holiday gathering this year.

Getting to the Party

Transportation is the leading source of emissions in New York State. Fewer cars on the road means fewer greenhouse gas emissions in our atmosphere and improved air quality.

If you’re attending a gathering in someone else’s home, look up public transportation options, ride-sharing  or try carpooling. You can catch up with your friends while reducing your carbon footprint – and no DWIs.

Say no to single-use items

Single-use plastics can take hundreds of years to biodegrade, increasing the burden on municipal landfills and clogging our waterways. Wildlife can also get entangled in or ingest the plastic. 

Other types of single-use items can also negatively impact the environment. The amount of water and energy used in the manufacturing process of disposable plates is higher-per-use than reusable plates.

This year, ditch the disposable items! Use reusable napkins, plates, and cutlery. Not only will this allow you to take fewer trips to the grocery to continuously stock up on such items but it will also reduce waste and your carbon footprint. You can also ask your guests to bring their own cups or mugs if you think you may not have enough at home for everyone. 

Make sure to offer tap water if possible, rather than disposable bottles of water.

At the end of the night, be sure to run a full load of dishes in your dishwasher if you have one.

Avoid plastic packaging

Many party snacks typically come in pre-packaged plastic. This year, carve out some time to prepare party snacks yourself. Homemade snacks can include rolls, dips, salsas, or flatbreads. You can read up on some recipe ideas here.


Encourage recycling by placing clearly labeled receptacles around the venue in a strategic way, such as where guests typically convene and chat. Make recycling fool-proof by providing visuals either on or above the bin for what can and cannot go in. To ensure your guests are aware about the recycling initiatives, make an announcement to guests or have a few guests spread the word. You can also have fun with inspiring guests to recycle by placing creative posters near receptacles, encouraging guests to help turn their recyclable into something new!

Lights & Decor

Consider changing the light bulbs to LED bulbs, which use 75% less energy and last 25 times longer than typical bulbs. Even after all the party guests leave, you’ll still have energy efficient lighting in the house that may even last until the next get together! If throwing a Christmas party, consider LED string lights rather than traditional holiday lights. It will save you money while also still being festive.

Upcycled decor is fun to make, cheap, eco-friendly, and often great conversation starters. Although upcycling can be more time consuming than running to the store to buy decor, it creates a great opportunity to get together with friends for arts and crafts some time before the party. Take yourself back to the days of childhood and create paper chains using newspapers or magazines laying around the house! There are so many possibilities when upcycling, look for ideas with a simple Google search or walk around your home for creative inspiration!

Your Food’s Fate 

Americans waste 25% of the food they purchase. That’s why it’s important not to over-prepare food that will eventually get thrown away. Check to see what you already have and plan a grocery list in advance to cut down food waste. If you do foresee copious amounts of remaining food, try composting if possible or offer leftovers to your guests. Give out leftover foods in reusable glass containers instead of plastic. 

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