Here is our complete guide to eco-friendly entertaining this fall. Courtesy of Storyblocks.
Sept. 21, 2023
The weather is finally changing from broiling to bearable, so it’s a great time to get back outside and party! So how do you host an eco-friendly gathering without seeming preachy and overbearing??? Check out our easy and green ideas.
Fall weather is the ideal time to gather with family — but we all want to take care of the planet as well. Mother Earth wants to be a part of the party so keep her in mind when you make your entertaining plans. By incorporating these eco-friendly ideas into your next event, you can create enjoyable and sustainable gatherings that have a positive impact on the planet.
Why send paper invitations that just add to the trash heap? Go paperless!
Autumn Foliage by Mr. Boddington’s Studio. Courtesy of Paperless Post.
You’ll find numerous sites online to help — such as Paperless Post and Evite — with a cost range from free to about a buck per invite. An advantage to paperless is that it’s easy for your guests to RSVP and they won’t lose your address and other essential information because it’s all online for them to find when they need it. Many online services will also send automatic reminders on the day of the event to be sure that everyone attends!
Butterflies made from artisanal paper embedded with wildflower seeds make fun invites, place settings or party favors. Courtesy of Bloomin.
For any paper that you DO need at the party, check out Bloomin, a Certified B Corp in Boulder, Colorado that infuses seeds into their products, from paper sheets to seed bombs to seeded paper shapes and even pre-printed items.
Outdoor settings are ideal for autumn entertaining when the summer temps wane and people return to relaxing outside.
Don’t have good outdoor spaces at your own home? Local parks, museums, swimming pools and lakes are often free or cheap for private uses. Just make sure to make reservations so that you are not in conflict with other parties that might want the space at the same time.
If you’d rather stay indoors, consider renting a space that your guests will never forget such as The Perot Museum, Dallas Heritage Village or even The American Airlines C.R. Smith Museum. FInd more Dallas-area venues here and Fort Worth spaces here.
Natural items make festive seasonal table settings. Courtesy of Storyblocks.
Instead of single-use, plastic decor, choose more natural decorations made of reusable or upcycled materials. Consider centerpieces of mason jars filled with flowers, live plants and raffia as well as reusable chalkboards and fabric banners to celebrate your special occasion.
For evening decor, utilize a mix of soy or beeswax candles, solar lighting and LED string lights.
Borrowing or renting decor is another option.
Deann Nicholson of Social Bee Events, an eco-friendly event planning company in Arlington, said they have decorations available for rental.
Kraft paper can be used as a table cloth. Thrift-store vases filled with locally sourced flowers can serve as centerpieces. Photo by Marjorie Lombard.
“We rent out potted plants to go with our floral services that can be reused and bring a real organic look to any event,” Nicholson said. “We also purchase beautiful antique and vintage décor from resale shops and estate sales that will elevate any event.”
The company will also do the setup and teardown for you so that you don’t have to!
Thrift stores are also a wonderful source of decor including vintage tablecloths and cloth napkins. Recycled kraft paper also makes a unique and casual table covering. Consider providing rubber stamps and crayons so that guests can even “help” decorate.
Reuseable pink paper fans from Shifka Designs on Etsy.
Balloons are an environmental nightmare so avoid them if you can. Not only do so-called “biodegradable” balloons take years to break down but many animals will mistakenly eat them thinking they are food — and the strings can get caught in birds’ legs.
Some fun balloon alternatives are Mexican paper flowers, natural plants and flowers, fabric streamers, paper ring garlands, bubbles and pinwheels. You can even make your own or allow guests to make them as an activity. Just search Pinterest or Youtube for input. Here’s a quick video on how to make simple pinwheels.
Etsy is a treasure-trove of hand-made and eco-friendly decor. We just love these reusable pink paper fans, perfect for your Barbie-themed party.
Another Etsy find are these gorgeous hand-printed paper chains, made from recycled cotton, about $20 for 28 running feet when assembled. Choose from lots of colors and patterns elsewhere on Etsy.
Biodegradable glitter from Today Glitter comes in a a variety of colors.
Avoid plastic glitter and instead opt for biodegradable choices such as Bio Glitter, which is environmentally safe and just as crazy and colorful as the conventional stuff. The company also offers glittery wrapping paper in multiple designs for about $15 per 12 sq ft.
Get refillable Bubbles in a Box for the kids.
You provide pine cones, string, peanut butter and birdseed and the guests do the rest.
Provide guests materials for making natural bird treats. Courtesy of Storyblocks.
Kids as well as adults will enjoy taking home these natural wild bird treats that will attract avian friends to their yards for months.
You might want to grab some biodegradable bags for after-party transport.
Reuseable water balloons offer an alternative to single-use balloons that burst and leave litter outdoors that animals can mistake for food. Courtesy of Soppy Cid.
For big kids or young adults, consider providing sports equipment such as Frisbees, soccer balls, croquet and badminton sets. We found these nifty reusable silicone “water balloons” on Amazon for working off some after-meal jitters.
SETTING THE SCENE
Did you know that most disposable plates and cups just end up in the landfill? The plastic coating on many prohibit them from being recycled.
Bambu offers a variety of dinnerware in 100 percent organic bamboo. Courtesy of Bambu.
Choose dinnerware and serving pieces that reflect your green ideals. Combine fun mix and match from your own cupboard or ask all of your guests to bring their own plate, cup and flatware.
If you want to avoid the cleanup, then select disposables that can either be recycled or composted such as Repurpose plant-based cups and plates and Caboo papertowels both stocked locally at Cox Farms Market.
Be aware when shopping for dinnerware that palm leaf products may come from unsustainable sources. Also make sure bamboo products don’t use melamine as a binder. Bambu offers 100-percent plant-based products made from organic bamboo.
Ball aluminum cups can be washed and reused. Courtesy of the Ball Corporation.
Hooked on those red solo cups? So is everyone else and the landfills are full of them. Instead choose reusable, compostable or recyclable options such as Ball Aluminum Cups made from 90 percent recycled aluminum. Hardy enough to last through several parties and can then be recycled again at end of life. $24.99/pack of 30 at Amazon.
Disposable flatware is not recyclable, contrary to common belief. Instead choose to reuse and wash metal flatware.
If cleanup ia a problems then go with forks, spoons and knives made from plants such as Bosnal’s all wood flatware, made from sustainable birch, about $13 for 100 pieces.
Bosnal's flatware is made from sustainable birch.
Or if you’re needing an all-in-one solution, try Eco-Friendly Cutlery Sets offered at Green Paper Products (a wonderful source for biodegradable products), about $12 for 25 sets.
Also consider renting dishware rather than buying. Deann Nicholson with Social Bee can supply dishware for events large and small.
“We have glassware and plateware available for use for food and beverage services.”
Seasoned Straws come in a variety of flavors from citrus to pumpkin spice. Courtesy of Seasoned Straws.
Serve your drinks with reusable or paper straws or opt for something fun and unique such as Seasoned Straws, created by locals, Julie Drake and Ben Rutz.
The straws are earth-friendly, according to their website. They're made from 100-percent FDA-approved and FSC-certified material and manufactured with 100-percent sustainable and eco-friendly raw materials.
The duo offers about a dozen flavors from Grapefruit Habanero to Sparkling Strawberry to liven up everything from cocktails to hot chocolate. They’ve even got a pumpkin Spice straw that’s perfect for fall entertaining.
Nature's Plate in Dallas specializes in healthy vegan take out dishes and catering. Above, a vegan barbecue plate. Courtesy of Nature's Plate.
Going meat-free has never been easier and you can offer vegan and vegetarian options for your veg-centric guests. Folks just don’t realize how delicious plant-based food can be.
Chef Karl Shewry of Great Galettes in Dallas recommends this easy vegan buffet:
“Of course…the most earth-friendly menu for a backyard event in the summer, is plant-based. Your local farmers market can supply most of the ingredients. Grilled vegetables, salads (with plant based dressings), fresh fruit, and good bread are delicious and easy to make. And all your prep scraps go directly into your compost bin. Plus no discussion if the grilled squash is too rare or a hockey puck!”
Create a quick and easy and healthy Italian feast with Gardein's Meatless Meatballs. Courtesy of Gardein.
Local grocery stores such as Cox Farms Market, Whole Foods, Central Market and Sprouts offer yummy vegan finger foods that are available fresh or frozen. Gardein Meatless Meatballs (found everywhere from Tom Thumb to Walmart) slathered with Head Country Vegan Barbecue Sauce is one of our family favorites and could not be easier. You can also make your own. Visit SixHungryFeet.com for 45 easy and fun recipe ideas.
You can also have your party catered by some of the local vegan restaurants such as Karl’s Great Galettes, Eat Soul Good or Nature’s Plate, which specializes in plant-based takeout. Beyond Meat even has their own food truck serving much of DFW and it can come right to you! Check out other food trucks available for private events.
In the ancient history of the 1960s and 70s, the idea of bottled water would have garnered some strange looks indeed. Instead of creating more waste at your next todo, opt for serving purified water and iced tea in large dispensers or sherbert floating in ginger ale for a cool and refreshing treat.
BuchaLada is a fizzy and fruity alcoholic kombucha made by Dallas-based Four Corners Brewing.
For adult beverages, partake of the ever-growing selection of Dallas-made beer, wine and spirits. A local fav includes Four Corners Brewing BuchaLada, a lightly fizzy and fruity alcoholic kombucha that is oh-so Texas delicious. Available in three flavors, Raspberry Hibiscus, Ginger Prickly Pear and Grapefruit Sea Salt for about $9/4 pack of 12 oz cans at Kroger.
Ego Tequila is made from Mexican-grown Blue Weber agave by a Fort Worth based, woman-owned distillery.
On the harder side, check out Ego Tequila, a woman-owned company based in Fort Worth. Ego Tequila is made from 100 percent Mexican-grown Blue Weber Agave, with natural volcanic spring water, and distilled in alembic copper stills. Proprietress Rikki Kelly tells us that they are “additive-free.”
She offers this easy and intoxicating recipe for an Ego Diablo Highball, one of her personal favorites:
Ego Diablo Highball
1.5oz. Ego Blanco
25 oz. Creme de Cassis
25 oz. Lime Juice
Directions: Build in a highball glass with Ice. Add Tequila, Crème de Cassis, Lime Juice. Briefly stir those ingredients together. Top with Ginger Beer. Garnish with skewered Blackberry and Lime Wheel. Yummy!
SAFER SUNSCREEN & BUG DETERRENT
Offer a selection of eco-friendly sunscreen products to your guests such as Raw Elements Mineral Face + Body SPF 30, sold at REI. $18.95/3 oz tin. The product is made from vegan and nature-friendly ingredients in a handy tin that can be reused or recycled.
Raw Elements sunscreen is made from vegan and eco-frienldy ingredients.
A thoughtful host keeps bug repellents handy too. Skip the harsh pesticides and instead choose all-natural bug solutions that really work such as Mosquito Steve’s Natural Spray-On Mosquito Repellent.
Mosquito Steve's products are all natural and DEET-free.
This DEET-Free formula is made with natural essential oils that actually have a pleasant smell to us but bugs don’t like. About $9 for 4 oz at shops around town. Mosquito Steve also offers whole backyard solutions as well as event mosquito control systems. Visit MosquitoSteve.com for more info.
The White Rock Soap Co. offers citronella candles in cute tins. Courtesy of White Rock Soap Co.
Another locally made bug option from White Rock Soap Gallery incorporates natural citronella into a pint-sized soy candle — packed in a cute recyclable and reusable tin that’s perfect for patio or picnic. $6.50 each. Also available in a 20 oz. metal bucket for $22. Check out their other scents as well such as Bluebonnet, Pecan Praline and Weird Cedar.
Citronella incense sticks offer a fragrant bug deterrent. Courtesy of Murphy's Naturals.
An easy-to-use and crowd-friendly bug control idea are incense sticks from Murphy’s Naturals. These nifty sticks, made from rosemary, peppermint, citronella, lemongrass, cedarwood essential oils on a bamboo skewer – smell great to people but not flying critters.
The sticks slowly burn for two to three hours to keep bugs at bay. About $14 per dozen pack at local hardware stores such as Rooster Home & Hardware as well as Whole Foods and Central Market.
CLEAN UP CREW
Inspire your guests by setting up a recycling and composting station for after-party debris. Create easy-to-distinguish bins so that everyone can clean up their own mess and save you a bit of work in the process.
Set out clearly labeled bins for easy self-serve cleanup. Courtesy of Storyblocks.
You’ll also let them know about your green ideals and efforts and perhaps they will be inspired to do the same at their next event.
If you do have a small amount of trash, don’t add more to the landfill with conventional trash bags. Instead, choose to gather it up in biodegradable bags such as BioStar 33-gallon Waste Bags made from compostable material. Great for leaves and other compostable debris as well.
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