green holiday entertaining tips

Green holiday entertaining doesn't mean you have to forgo the seasonal fun.

You can still decorate and entertain in festive style. But you can do it with a clear conscience, knowing that you are not contributing to the waste the holiday season generates each year.

It might even be more fun knowing that you are lessening your carbon footprint while merrymaking this holiday season.

These green holiday entertaining ideas can help get the green party started.

Go Au Natural with Green Holiday Entertaining

Forget the plastic Santas and other gaudy trim.

Go natural this year with your decorations and help the environment along with extending your holiday budget.

Here are some ideas to get you started: 

  • String popcorn and cranberries to trim the tree. This is going back to basics at its best.
  • Make paper chains instead of hanging tinsel, which must be removed before a tree can be recycled. (Plus, it can be lethal if consumed by pets.)
  • Decorate naturally with dried flowers, pine cones, felt, leaves, photographs, last year's ribbons, yarn, drawings, shells, sand dollars, and edibles such as candy canes.
  • If you do buy ornaments, choose those made of recycled metal, glass, or paper.
  • Trim your home naturally:  Create decorations and centerpieces of pinecones, dried flowers, and other natural materials.
  • For outdoor lighting, Look for light strands with parallel wiring. These have separate circuitry so that if one bulb goes out, the rest will keep shining; all you need to do is replace the bulb.
  • Choose smaller bulbs with lower wattage. They are cheaper, consume less electricity, and are safer because they give off less heat.

Green Entertaining

When shopping for holiday merrymaking, select items with the least packaging and buy only what you'll use this year.

The goal is to make sure your entertaining efforts use the least amount possible of items that end up in our landfills.

Call your local recycling company to find out which materials are accepted for recycling in your community. Not all facilities recycle all materials, even those marked "recyclable." 

For example, gift wrap, cards, and cardboard boxes with special finishes cannot be recycled because they release potentially dangerous fumes when burned.

Here are a few other ways you can make a difference this holiday season:

  • Party invitations: For invitations to a party, send a postcard or buy cards made on reycled paper, Better yet, e-mail or call.
  • Decorate with plants:  Deck the halls with holiday plants (keep them healthy with this Christmas plant care guide) instead of traditional store-bought decor.
  • Use washable plates and utensils. Don't opt for the more convenient, but more waste-generating disposable plates and utensils for your party.
  • Rent or borrow punch bowls or large platters. Consider renting or borrowing items such as punch bowls or large platters. Or invest in these dishes with a neighbor and share them. 
  • Recycle. Set up a highly visible area with containers for recycling bottles, cans and, paper.
  • The party's over... Once the party is over, compost the edible leftovers and give your yard a holiday treat. In addition to improving the soil structure, texture, and aeration, compost also increases the soil's water-holding capacity.
  • Good compost ingredients include fruit and vegetable trimmings, flowers, and coffee grounds. No-nos include meat, fish, poultry and dairy products, which might attract wildlife. 

Green Holiday Entertaining to Wrap it Up

Many retailers stock environmentally friendly gifts, wraps, and trimmings. One ecological and budget-friendly way to wrap gifts is to use recycled or recyclable materials already in our homes, such as the newspaper funny pages, cloth napkins, or scarves. Other ideas include:

  • Arrange a garder's tools in the pocket of an apron, neatly tied with twine in a planter box.
  • Wrap a traveler's gift in old street or city maps.
  • Use a colorful tablecloth to wrap dishes or dining room gifts. 

Kids get a kick out of opening individually wrapped presents.

Still, for an adult's gift, you can keep the packaging to a minimum by wrapping them all in a single reusable box or by using last year's leftover wrapping and bows. 

If you send greeting cards, choose recyclable ones or postcards. Or, buy cards from local organizations that benefit good causes. 

Save the cards you receive to cut up and reuse them next year as gift tags. They're also a good resource for kiddie art projects. 

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