I love a good party.
I love to go to them.
I love to host them.
What I don’t like though, is the waste.
I get it – when you’re throwing a party you don’t want to have to stand and do dishes, or maybe you don’t have enough dishes for a big shindig. What should you do?
Here are some things you can do to reduce waste and still have a beautiful party.
First things first – depending on the size of your event, consider renting everything from tables and chairs to dishes and linens. All you have to do at the end of the night is put it in the crate, they’ll come to pick it up! Easy peasy!
If you just need a few extra, consider borrowing from a friend especially if they are a guest coming to your event. Use good manners. Make sure to pick everything up and return it in a timely fashion. It goes without saying that you should return it in the same condition you borrowed it in. If something breaks, offer to replace it.
Another cost-effective option is a gemach. Many areas have them. This is especially useful if you want to borrow decor.
If you host regularly, you may want to consider a set of lightweight glass dishes/glasses that are easy to store and basic stainless steel cutlery. These are easy to Kasher if you need to change their orientation and don’t take up a lot of storage. With cutlery, look for pieces that are forged in a single piece. You can often find these second-hand.
I try to avoid plastics when possible – you can get beautiful compostable plates and bowls like these- find full sets with dinner plates, salad plates, and cutlery.
As far as napkins go – cloth is best. It’s easy to pick these up second-hand or borrow them, but it’s great if you order a bunch that matches a lot of different tablecloths, and then you can have them on hand. But if you prefer to go the disposable route again, compostable napkins are best- make sure to look for natural fibers, like bamboo.
Of course, you want to decorate without a lot of waste, so think about future events you may have and how you can reuse them. Fairy lights that are rechargeable look great for most events. Candles are also great – the LED versions help with fire safety if you have a small space or children around. Or you may want to consider these pearled candles – you can even choose your container, color, and scent. Plants are another beautiful way to decorate. If you decide to use fresh flowers, see if there is a place locally you can donate to after (a florist can help you find someplace) but please, avoid balloons, they are so bad for the environment.
As far as the food goes, the family-style/buffet style offers the lowest waste options. With drinks, I like to avoid bottles by having a juice press present (https://amzn.to/3USyLaW) (juice your own oranges, grapefruit, pomegranate) and a hot water urn for coffee and tea. It just takes a few minutes to brew and it is so much better for the environment than coffee pods. Choose tea bags that aren’t made with plastic- these are better for you and the planet. I usually cut up lemon or mint for flavored water in a large carafe beverage dispenser. If you get one without a stand make sure you have space near the edge of the table so the spout hangs over. You can also prop it up on a box. For this, you can also flavor the ice cubes so the water stays cold but you still get the flavor!
To help make the cooking easier, here are a few quick tips:
- Do prep and freeze. Chopping onions and garlic beforehand and freezing it helps. You can also do this for herbs, lemons, carrots, and celery.
- Baked goods usually freeze really well, especially cookies and loaf cakes. Making them in advance can be very helpful.
- Proteins can usually be made in advance, you can slightly undercook them so that when you warm them they don’t dry out, specifically useful for meat.
- Salads can be prepped in advance as well, but save dressing them for the last minute.
- It’s worth taking some time to plan out the order of operations to see what recipes have ingredients that overlap so you can prep them one time and then use them in all the recipes. This is also useful for deciding what to make so you can maximize your time. Get what you can into the oven first then, use the time while things are cooking to prep the next dish or make non-cooked items.
For more on party planning, zero waste, time management, and organization, pick up your copy of Organized Jewish Life today.
Happy party planning!