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By Lia Blanchard

You’ve already gotten your home decorated in an earth-friendly manner, and are expecting guests soon? The final article in our Enjoy a Greener Holiday series examines ways to entertain your holiday guests with a minimal impact on our environment.

Invitations

This one is easy – invite your guests via the internet! Electronic invitations are everywhere these days, and are considered completely acceptable – even Emily Post has etiquette advice for e-vites. There are several online invitation services out there, and almost all of them are sophisticated, free, and 100% earth-friendly.

Food

Entertaining during the holidays, even more than at other times of the year, often centers around food. From appetizers to dessert, everyone has beloved family recipes and traditions that are observed year after year. Fortunately, being ecology-minded doesn’t mean that your traditions should be set aside – not at all!

Menu:  Whatever you are cooking, using local and organic ingredients (find organic wines here) and keeping portion sizes reasonable is easiest on the earth. If you do have leftovers, give what you can to your guests (on compostable paper plates and wrapped with 100% recycled aluminum foil to be washed, reused, and recycled again) and compost what you can’t.

Dishes: Go ahead and use your china! Or at least your everyday durable plates and cloth napkins. Washing those dishes is much easier on the environment than the pile of waste created by disposable plates, bowls, utensils, and napkins. If you really must use the disposable items, there are options that are more eco-friendly than Styrofoam – look for products with the Compostable Logo on them.

Compostable Logo

Centerpieces

Beeswax or soy candles are great choices for warm light that doesn’t burn petroleum products. Holiday decorations that you already have, gathered in a glass or silver bowl – perhaps with a string of lights – are beautiful. Or, have the kids create a centerpiece masterpiece by placing a bouquet of twigs in a pitcher and attaching Christmas card ornaments.

Christmas centerpiece

Memories

It’s easy to pick up a disposable camera for use at an event, especially while traveling, but finding a digital alternative saves a lot of electronic waste. If one of your guests laments that they’ve forgotten their camera, offer to share yours via the internet – many times, a group will share all of their photos from the same event, creating an incredible album that no one would have been able to put together alone.

Previous articles in the series:
Enjoy a Greener Holiday: Decorating
Enjoy a Greener Holiday: Giving