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Green Holiday Entertaining

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Green Holiday Entertaining

Now that green is all the rage, eco-friendly holiday events are popping up everywhere. Here's some tips to going green for the holidays.

Now that green is all the rage, eco-friendly events are popping up everywhere, especially during the holiday season. Planning your own environmentally conscious event is not only manageable, but it’s also fashionable.

Jaye Marsh Graham, event director and owner of It’s Personal! Occasions, has two tips for hosting an eco-friendly soiree keep it small and have potlucks with local foods.

“Aim for a no-waste affair and let everyone know about it,” says Graham. “After all, being environmentally friendly isn’t about preaching; it’s about thinking and doing.”

An environmentally friendly event may take a little more planning and creativity. Graham advises serving finger foods with cloth napkins, and using email or phone invitations. She suggests serving ice water with lemon slices in pitchers–a much more luxurious presentation than handing out water bottles.

Gift-Giving

Eco-conscious gift-giving can be tricky at holiday parties. Graham has some practical suggestions for parting gifts that guests will enjoy. Teacups and saucers purchased at your local thrift store can be taken home by your guests after dinner.

Another option is to ask everyone to bring a wrapped present. Organize an exchange game so that everyone ends up with a gift in the end. It will add a little fun to the evening and encourage everyone to mingle.

Instead of the usual gift for the host or hostess, try something different. Make a donation to a charity in his or her name. If you must bring a gift, bring something you’ve made yourself or give your time in the form of a voucher for a service such as free baby- or pet-sitting.

Wrapping your presents in an eco-conscious way may take a little ingenuity, but the results will set your gifts apart. Use holiday fabric or comic strips, or wrap a present within another present such as a pashmina scarf or a tea towel. (For more information about eco-friendly gift wrapping, see "It's an Eco-Wrap".)

Decking the Halls

Whether you’re crafty or not, decorating is an easy hosting task that can also be made environmentally friendly. If you have children in the house, Graham recommends challenging them to create decorations with household items or seasonal objects such as gourds, pine cones, and cedar boughs. Chopsticks can even be made into contemporary-looking placemats by using some string and a little creativity.

Eating Local

Hosts should try to shop locally for food and gifts. Buying local products reduces the amount of fuel used to transport food and supports your local farm economy. What’s more, local food simply tastes better because it’s had time to ripen naturally rather than in a crate.

Be aware of which foods are in season when planning your menu, but the best method of eating local is to preserve food when it’s in season for future use.

Serving organic food is another eco-friendly option. If an entire meal of organics seems out of your budget, mixing organic food with local food is one way to create a less expensive sustainable meal. If a product claims to be 100 percent organic it must contain only organic ingredients; however, words on the label such as “natural” or “green” mean very little because there are no regulations to control the use of these terms.

Drinking and Merry-Making

Organic alcoholic beverages can add a little holiday spirit to your occasion. Frogpond Farm (frogpondfarm.ca) and Malivoire Wine Company, (malivoirewineco.com) are two organic wineries located in the Niagara region that take online orders.

If you’re looking for Canadian organic beer, in BC check out NatureLand Organic Ale and Lager. In Ontario, look for Mill Street Brewery.

Remember to suggest carpooling options for your guests, not only to cut down on fuel consumption, but also to reduce the number of cars on the road.

The holidays can morph into a consumer nightmare, so why not create new traditions? Try yearly board game tournaments, cook- or bake-offs, or carolling. Start a new tradition of eco-friendly holiday entertaining and reclaim the holidays for what they were originally meant to be–a time for friends and family.

Eco-Entertaining Tips

  • Send invitations online: usee-vites or personalized email.
  • Decorate with pesticide-free, organic flowers.
  • Use organic fabric tablecloths and napkins.
  • Light up with soy or beeswax candles.
  • Avoid disposable dishes and utensils; rent instead.
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