Throw fabulous dinner parties without throwing anything away with these 6 tips for greening up your entertaining. They’re easy to implement and the result will leave you ready to entertain – and then entertain again. Everything is reusable so get out your social schedule and start planning when you’ll have guests over. You can save the environment in style – and save money, too.
How to Green Up Your Entertaining
- Use actual dishes :: Garage sales, estate sales, and second-hand stores have an endless amount of pretty glass plates – or other material – just waiting for you. Buy a set of dishes that can go into the dishwasher and skip the paper/plastic route. There’s no leaking of plates when you have an actual plate and you can use them again and again. (Easy tutorial for shopping second-hand, first.)
- Use wine glasses and glass glasses :: Skip the paper or plastic cups. Yes, it may be easier to toss out the cups at the end of the night but think about how long plastic takes to break down – almost an eternity. If you’re short on glasses, borrow from a friend or use juice jars. There’s nothing wrong with drinking from a jar and they’re more difficult to spill than a wine glass! (Easy tutorial on glass jars and how to reuse them.)
- Use cloth napkins :: Find cloth napkins at a favorite kitchen supply store at the end of the season in colors that match your deco and dishes. Get enough napkins for each guest at your table to have a large dinner napkin. Cotton only. Why cloth napkins are made in polyester is beyond me. They’re not absorbent at all. Cloth napkins are so easy to sew, too. Even beginners can do it. (Easy tutorial for sewing cloth napkins.)
- Use tablecloths :: Tablecloths are my secret weapon for transforming a room quickly for the season and there’s nothing that dresses up a table faster than a pretty tablecloth. Look for end of season sales or custom fit your table with quilt backing fabric. Wash and dry in the dryer for 10-minutes only and then hang it up to finish drying. It will look like you’ve ironed your tablecloth but you have not! You’ll save time on clean up, too. Clear the table and fold the table cloth in and shake outside. Done. (Easy tutorial for sewing a tablecloth.)
- Use flowers and herbs from the garden for decorating :: When I want my table or house to look pretty, I go outside. Let nature help you decorate your home and when the party is over with, you can compost your decorations. Pine cones, flowers from a neighbor’s yard (ask first!), a plant that’s divided and placed in a pot are all easy and inexpensive. These all embellish a home without generating waste. (Easy tutorial for forcing blooms and decorating with cherry blossoms.)
- Use wine charms that can be reused :: Can anyone keep track of their own wine glass at a party? No. Well, I can tell by the lipstick mark I’ve left on a wine glass but that’s not an option for everyone! Instead of buying (and re-buying) inexpensive and cheaply made wine charms, make your own. These are made from metal rounds that I found in a free pile at an estate sale. I wasn’t completely sure what I’d make with these but odd lettered stickers and reusable ties complete the look. (Easy tutorial on making these wine charms.)
That’s it. Easy steps to go from throwing away your party items to throwing fabulous dinner parties! Saving the environment means you’re saving money, too. Buy items once and reuse. When are you having me over? I’ll bring the wine glasses and charms!
What’s your favorite “green” decorating tip? How do you keep track of guests’ glasses?
Go Gingham related links:
Our dinner group followed Bon Appetit’s menu last fall
The last time we hosted dinner group – in between decorating seasons
Dinner group in spring – well, it felt like winter
Dinner group at Robin and Greg’s pretty house – mid-century style abounds!
8 thoughts on “How to Green Up Your Entertaining”
Good tips! But I was too busy admiring your dining chairs. So pretty.
Thanks, Kris! The chairs are ‘prayer chairs’ – in European churches, you turn them around and can kneel on them while resting your arms on the top part. While on a home exchange trip to Austria, we used prayer chairs at church. They’re a little top heavy so tip easily but very sturdy. Thanks for writing in and the compliment!
LOVE your dining room. Those chairs are fab! I agree completely with you about paper products, and I’ve convinced family members to try to go paperless, too. My mom now uses cloth napkins exclusively. I will add that I’ve purchased nearly all my cloth napkins at thrift stores. I once found eight that were in perfect shape and they matched my Easter tablecloth! Love looking great on a thrift store budget!
Oh, Vanessa, cloth napkins from a thrift store are the ultimate! Very nicely done.
I like that you’ve gotten family members on board with ‘less waste’ as well. We all need to encourage each other – and continue to improve. Just when I think we’ve hit the max on wasting less, we learn a new trick!
Thanks for writing in, Vanessa!!
I do all those things you list! However, when the group size is greater than 20, I use Preserve reusable/dishwashable plastic plates. They are lightweight and stackable (easy to store 30-40 of them in a cabinet), but strong enough to stand up to Thanksgiving dinner! We also use compostable plasticware (potato-based?) but hand-wash it after every party (I think it would disintegrate or warp in a dishwasher), and reuse it. And yes, even Solo cups (only used for a large crowd) are put in the dishwasher and reused.
Now, getting party guests to properly sort their waste is another challenge. We provide labeled bags/cans for “(scraped) plates/cups/flatware”, “cloth napkins”, and “food waste”. We purposely make the “food waste” can the smallest so people are encouraged to “eat what they take”.
Liana, I’ve never heard of putting the plastic cups in the dishwasher but that is very smart! They seem way too sturdy to toss out. I like it.
So often, things (kitchen items) that say ‘disposable’ are really not and can be reused.
And, I can relate on the food waste! It drives me crazy when people throw food out. I don’t even like to give food that’s dropped on the floor to our backyard chickens because it seems like such a waste. BUT, we can’t eat it because somehow, the dropped food seems to attract all of the dust bunnies in our kitchen 😉
Thanks for sharing, Liana! Great tips!
It is so much more enjoyable to use real glass/crystal wine goblets, actual dishes, and cloth napkins! We love our collected sets from thrift stores and estate sales. We also have a little beach house furnished with second hand treasures and always use cloth napkins. Guests choose between a napkin ring or personalizing a wooden cloths pin to identify their napkin. Some last through the weekend, some need replacing, but the most fun comes when people dig through the bowl to find ‘their’ cloths pin! (And I love seeing all the past visitors’ names.) Now we need wine charms. 🙂
Carolyn, that sounds absolutely charming! I really like the way you have the cloth napkins personalized. I will have to keep that in mind. We all have chairs in the dining room where we store our individual napkins when we use them. No one switches chairs but if you do, you have to switch napkins! I like your method – clever 🙂
Thanks so much for writing in!!
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