Party planning can be real fun and it can also be a real headache and blow to the planet as we usually end up scrambling around, buying less-than-perfect supplies. These are my tips for creating a party that is stress-free for everyone, beautiful, and easy on the planet.
PLAN & PURCHASE A MONTH AHEAD
No matter how big or small your gathering is, planning and purchasing supplies at least a month in advance gives everyone involved the time to find and gather the best, most earth-friendly things. The reason we end up making sacrifices in the quality and thoughtfulness of our events is because we lack the time, going with whatever is most convenient. Planning all the details and purchasing a month in advance will give you peace-of-mind, ensuring that your vision is executed and you've made the best choices for people and the planet.
Try to choose a central location for your guests to reduce the amount of traveling they will have to do and the amount of pollutants that will be released in the atmosphere by air and car travel. Your people and planet will be most grateful!
Even though it's not as old-fashioned or traditionally formal as a physical invitation, consider using an online invitation to reduce the amount of resources used. You can use a Facebook event, a custom designed email invite or you can use a template service like Paperless Post. If you really want to send a physical invite, look for a printing company near you that uses tree-free paper made out of 100% recycled material or pesticide-free cotton, bamboo or hemp. It's a bonus if they also use non-toxic inks and practice sustainability in their workspace like Smock Paper, Forever Fiancés and Botanical Paperworks.
No Presents or Thoughtful Presents
If your event is the type where people usually bring gifts and you really don't want them to bring anything, a simple "Please no gifts!" on the invite will help eliminate getting things that will go to waste. If you would like people to have the freedom to bring presents, be specific on the invite about what you want, or use a registry service like MyRegistry that allows you to create a custom wish list. Using a custom wish list app will allow you to support vintage, earth-friendly and local sellers which helps the planet and the small businesses around you. You can also add experiences like dinner dates or request money for a trip, a cause, or something you've been saving for.
Pick a place that doesn't need a lot of extra decorating to get the feeling you want for the party: someone's neat house, an interesting building, or maybe outside in the beauty of nature. For simplicity, I recommend not making decorations and instead buying second hand or vintage online if you want (this is where the planning & purchasing ahead helps immensely). If you want to make a couple things, use materials that are recycled, recyclable, or compostable in the area of your party. My favorite decorations are plants and flowers wether locally grown and cut, or living and potted.
Using the least amount of disposables as possible will be the best for the Earth. You can collect real dishes, cups and cloth napkins from friends, buy them used, or rent them from an event rental company. If you have to buy any disposables, buy ones made as close to your location as possible using the most recycled content that can either be recycled or composted in the area after the party.
CLEARLY LABEL BINS
If guests will be dealing with their own trash, clearly label all the trash bins with icons or descriptions what items can go inside. This will help people who aren't familiar with local sorting rules dispose of their items. You can even have beautiful handwritten or printed signs that match the party's aesthetic. Let me know if you want help designing some!
Serve Refreshments from Thoughtful, Local Producers
Buy groceries and beverages from local people who are earth-conscious in their business and production practices. This will help reduce any negative impact on the environment that your party will have. If you're purchasing most of your food at a grocery store, look for food made nearest you with ingredients grown and raised close by. Also, buying food not treated with pesticides and other chemicals is better for the farmers health, the community in which it is grown, and you and your guests. To reduce your packaging waste, buy as much as you can in bulk with as little packaging as possible, eliminating anything that isn't recyclable or compostable in your area.
Party favors and takeaways
In my opinion, party favors aren't necessary anymore and can be a waste. If you feel inclined to give something, go with something that is either vintage, recyclable, compostable or digital. My favorite takeaways from parties are simply digital photos that capture a celebratory moment with my favorite people!
Cheers & happy planning & partying!