There are pros and cons to throwing your own New Year's Eve party. The pros come easily: You don't need to worry about drinking and driving, you can wear sweatpants if you want, and people will help you clean up. The cons? Well, the pressure of throwing a party awesome enough to start the new year off with a bang can be high. Plus, parties can be wasteful, especially boozy year-end bashes.
Here are 10 tips for throwing your own New Year's party using only the greenest of methods. After all, if living a more sustainable life is one of your resolutions, what better way to start than throwing an eco-riffic party?
1) Plan a local menu. Sure, raspberries are great in champagne, but they probably aren't in season where you live, so plan around it. Use websites like Local Harvest to find local wines and beers; if you can't find anything, buy from a mom-and-pop liquor store instead of a chain market. Winter menu planning can be a cinch; a vat of onion soup thick with cheese and homemade baguette can be a godsend on a blustery New Year's Eve. How about local mushrooms stuffed with bread crumbs and spices?
2) Rent instead of buy. Not everyone is equipped to handle large party situations. If you don't have the chairs and tables to comfortably suit all your guests, don't go out of your way to buy new ones. Many companies offer rentals, and will even deliver and pick up for a small fee.
3) Flowers don't have to be exotic. If you're dead-set on flowers as centerpieces for your New Year's table, that's cool, but remember to buy local. Encourage friends and family to take home leftover plants, and compost once they aren't in their prime anymore. Drying and pressing leftover centerpieces can also be a wonderful rainy-day craft, and they're beautiful to boot.
4) Invitations don't have to use paper. If you're keen on acquiring guests by written invitation, consider a site like evite to do the dirty work. People are much more prone to respond if all they have to do is click "yes," and you can upload an image from your computer to suit your style.
5) Decorate your space using nature's goods. Winter berries are beautiful, especially when wrapped with twine or ribbon and glued to the backs of chairs. What about sprigs of holly? Beeswax candles? Confetti made of recycled material? The options are endless, but you'll need to get creative.
6) Don't use plastic or Styrofoam plates. Granted, no one wants to do 50 dishes the day after a party, but guests can go through a lot of plates and cups. Stores like Whole Foods have brands that are good for a couple uses and are completely compostable. If you're going to go the use-and-toss route, you might as well be able to recycle or compost what you'd normally just chuck. Cloth napkins are another must (don't forget to wash them in cold water).
7) Send guests home with leftovers! If it can't be composted, and will taste good the next day, pass your food onto guests.
8) Don't buy noise makers. You know those annoying gadgets that everyone blows/bleeps/shakes at midnight to celebrate the coming of another year? Most of these are throw-away, and are a complete waste of materials. Instead, opt for good old banging on pots and pans, or shaking tambourines or maracas.
9) Make a list of resolutions with friends. This may seem a bit too wholesome, but sitting down with some organic bubbly and making a list of eco-promises with one another is a great way to ensure you may actually follow your resolution, while passing around ideas with one another.
10) Clean up using natural materials. This should be a given, but it's always worth mentioning. Recycle what you can, use cloth washrags rather than paper towels, and try to avoid products with harsh chemicals. A little soap and water can go a long way.