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Ask anyone what their favorite time of year is and we’d bet “holiday season” comes to the top of the list. Colder weather brings snuggly blankets and knitwear, warming drinks (with or without a splash of brandy) and watching a classic holiday movie whilst snuggled up in bed. Of course, we also expect to spend time celebrating with our nearest and dearest, which brings us right to those much awaited holiday parties! From extravagant dinner parties to ugly sweater parties and holiday game nights, there are so many great ideas when it comes to planning the perfect holiday party

Let’s face it, there’s nothing quite like the holiday season. Dinner parties, Christmas brunches, Hanukkah festivities, NewYears Eve parties, corporate parties, family gatherings, Friendsgivings, you name it, the holiday season gives us all the reason to celebrate, be merry and feel joyful. Businesses and corporations, especially, love showing gratitude to their hardworking employees by throwing lavish and extravagant workplace holiday parties. As the nights get darker and work starts to slow down, we all know a corporate holiday party or two is on the cards (read this article for ideas on some fun corporate holiday party games)! So let’s say goodbye to the incessant pinging of emails and welcome the chance to spend more time with our colleagues, friends and family this holiday season.

Celebrations aside, the festive period is often tinged with something a little less jolly and it's about time we talk about it. Although it may seem like a time for indulgence and glorious excess, all of this enjoyment comes with its own consequences and our environment is often left paying the highest price. Recent studies have shown that Americans throw away a whopping 25% more trash between Thanksgiving and New Years Day than any other time of year. That is a whole lot of landfill waste. To put this into a more worrying context, this equates to an additional 25 million tons of garbage on top of what we usually produce! Yikes.

With the most popular time of year almost upon us, it’s time for us to re-rethink our plans. We know that hosts, party planners and companies will want to make sure they have ample supplies to cater for their guests and of course, festive lighting will adorn every table and let’s not forget the endless piles of single-use plastics...but something must be done. We’re not suggesting that everyone should take a leaf from Scrooge’s book (far from it), however, we really must take a moment to review our seasonal habits. By altering the purchases we make, either by quantity or quality, we can reduce our carbon footprint and our impact on our environment.

So for the most wonderful time of year and to keep those holiday party ideas flowing, we’ve created our top 5 tips to keep celebrations eco-friendly but no less sparkly. Fa la la!

1. Sustainable Palm Leaf Plates

The mind-blowing process of Areca Palm Leaves being created into plates may seem simple, but it’s absolutely saving our planet one sustainable plate at a time. Palm leafplates and bowlsare the perfect solution for any occasion including your holiday event thanks to their pleasing aesthetic and natural wood grain finish, that look like bamboo plates. Your guests will love the fact that you took the time to think about using plates that were not only great for the environment but also aesthetically pleasing.

Chic Leaf has the largest palm leaf product range on the market. Their plates, bowls, and trays are completely vegan-friendly and 100% biodegradable thanks to the zero chemical dyes and glues used to make these incredible plates. Individually hand-pressed using heated molds gives them a rustic charm and provides the perfect balance between style and substance. With only naturally fallen leaves used, the palms are left to continue growing naturally, resulting in no damage to the trees or local ecosystems. Win, win. Holiday Catering Party Planners and anyone planning Christmas dinner at their home take note; the whole range is completely compostable due to the 100% natural materials, making them a perfect non-toxic solution as well as a sustainable alternative to paper or plastic. Have a few compost bins set up at your event, and have your guests just toss their palm leaf plates right in those bins, making cleaning up a breeze. What host doesn’t love a quick and easy clean up?

2.  Set up Recycling Stations

What better way to reduce waste at holiday parties than to make things as easy as possible for your guests. By having bins for glass bottles, compost bins for food waste and those palm leaf plates we mention above (see how to compost palm leaf plates here), and paper for all of the wrapping paper that will be tossed from the gift opening, you are clearly making an impact on the amount of waste your party will produce. Have recycling and compost bins set up throughout your home or company office party venue, and with the right labeling, your guests will know exactly where to toss their unwanted and used items.

3. Try a Plant-Based Menu

Whether you are catering for a thanksgiving dinner, Christmas lunch, New Year's Eve gathering or company-wide holiday party, there are many unique ways to reduce your footprint and the associated carbon emissions. One area that can make an instant difference is reviewing your food and drink choices. Caterers and hosts alike both share the same fear of not having enough food to go around... who wants to leave their guests hungry? We’ve all seen tables and platters groaning under the extra weight, only for a high percentage of food to end up in the garbage that night. It’s a known fact that partygoers are more interested in mingling than eating, so why not try scaling back on your preparations and reduce the amount of food being wasted? If the thought of guests with empty plates fills you with panic, then introduce a policy to either give food to a food bank/shelter or encourage guests to take food home with them.

With meat adding significantly to our carbon footprint, there are various ways to cut back. Whilst the meat industry as a whole is ethically questionable, you will obviously need to cater to guests’ requirements. If meat needs to be served, consider providing poultry rather than beef. 10-12% of total US emissions are due to beef, with cattle farming remaining one of the most inefficient uses of resources on the planet. The impact of meat on climate change is becoming more and more clear. If you are able to, suggest a plant-based or veg-heavy menu. If Leonardo DiCaprio can convince the 2020 Golden Globes to cater only plant-based foods, then why can't you? 

Simply shopping locally and seasonably will drastically cut down on your carbon footprint - plus local businesses will also really thank you for it. Supporting one another, especially at this time of year is key to moving forwards together in a more thoughtful way.

So we’ve got your food and drink moving in the right direction, with the right palm leaf tableware and recycling and compost bins set up but hold on... what will the ambiance look like? Which leads us nicely to....

4. Use Eco-Conscious Décor

If Mother Nature could seek revenge for just one thing, it absolutely would be holiday décor. It’s either plastic or glitter... or both. The unsustainable horror of it! Yes, it looks pretty but what it’s doing to our planet is not. So instead of reaching for the plastic baubles and thousands of twinkly lights, think about soy and beeswax candles, real foliage door wreaths, recycled glass baubles, food items such as cinnamon, cranberries and oranges or meaningful hanging ornaments, such as kid-made photo ornaments and hand prints. There are so many ways to incorporate sustainable DIY Christmas decor, it's hard to pick just one!

Pay homage to the Christmas trees of the past that were simply decorated in fruit and nuts and add your own eco-friendly decorations. If you’re wrapping faux presents (or real! we’re looking at you, boss...) then think twice before grabbing your wrapping paper from last year. We’re sorry to burst your virtuous bubble but there’s a very good chance it’s not recyclable. If it’s glossy, glittery or metallic then it’s definitely headed for landfill. For a more rustic look, why not use plain white or brown paper from your local postal store instead? Palm leaf plates also make for a great mini box but putting two palm leaf plates on top of each other. Just add a sprig of rosemary and a slice of dried orange and you’ve got a 100% recyclable and compostable present that’s not just chic but thoughtful. And because they are compostable, those palm leaf plates can be tossed in those compost bins that you've set out after the party is over!

5. Gifting

If you’ve been put in charge of the presents, hooray! As you’re already reading this article, then we know you’re already thinking of ways to cut back on the millions of unwanted presents. It’s people like you who are already making a difference.
We’ve got a few tips to help keep it green…Small batch items rather than large scale is key with high-quality items usually made to last longer, reducing the amount that may get thrown away in a matter of weeks or months. Plantable seed cards may just start someone off on that new gardening hobby they never knew they loved.

Giving the gift of an experience is one big way of cutting back on packaging and mileage and something that the receiver will remember for a long time. Tickets to a play. A donation to a good cause. A dinner treat at a fabulous sustainable restaurant might just get the next person thinking about their own way of living more sustainably. And even better, since your guest might be throwing a holiday party of their own, gift them a set of Chic Leaf palm leaf plates. It is the gift that keeps on giving! 

Final Thoughts

We hope this article gave you some food for thought as you plan your holiday party this season. By using sustainable dinnerware such as palm leaf plates or bamboo plates, creating a plant-based menu, setting up compost and recycling bins, and being conscious about using eco-friendly decor, your holiday party will not only be the talk of all of your guests, but mother nature will be proud too. 

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