How to Host a Greener Gathering

Have you ever looked at all the leftovers and waste from a big family gathering with lashings of food and drink and thought, “wow the bin’s going to be super full this week”? We have. That’s why we decided to look into greener entertaining. 

Thankfully, greener gatherings are not all that tricky to put together. You can be more eco-conscious at your next dinner party or family lunch simply by reducing waste.

A Greener Setup

The Invitations

Not only do they not produce any waste, e-invitations can be sent out much faster than paper ones. Plus, they’re quicker to put together as you don’t have to write them all out by hand!

There are plenty of easy-to-use templates online, on websites like Canva and Paperless Post. If you’re more tech-savvy, maybe you can even put together your own in a word processor or design program.

Word of mouth, text message, email, and social media messages are also great waste-free ways of inviting guests over to your green get-together!

The Decorations

When you want to jazz up your place for the get-together, try to use decorations you’ll likely want to use again. Christmas decorations, for example, can easily be saved for repeated use in later years when the holidays roll around again.

greener entertaining christmas decorations

Christmas decorations like these will never go out of style

If you’re planning an intimate soiree, why not dine by candlelight? When the meal is over, you can extinguish the candles and tuck them away for whenever you need them again (like when there’s an unexpected blackout).

greener entertaining dine by candlelight

Nothing says intimacy like thet warm glow of a flickering candle flame. 

Another option is to aim for recyclable decorations made of paper or card stock. Paper pom poms, streamers, and lanterns can all be recycled if you don’t want to hold on to them. Those made of card stock can be used again and again if properly taken care of.

We know nothing says “party” like balloons, but avoid these party essentials if you can. Even Latex balloons. When these burst or shrivel up, our pets can mistake them for food. So can marine animals and other wildlife. Not good!

Additionally, if you plan on eating alfresco and are worried about insects becoming a problem, check out these natural insect repellent recipes we’ve put together.

The Table

greener entertaining disposable napkins, disposable table cloth, disposable placemat

The pure linen Nimes Tablecloth, Nimes Placemat, and Nimes Napkins from Linen House. Available at Zanui.

While disposable paper napkins and tablecloths might sound great, these should be avoided for a greener gathering.

Aim for reusable napkins, placemats, and tablecloths that you can easily wash and hang out to dry then pack away until they’re needed again. These can even save you money in the long run.

A Greener Menu

Plan your menu around the specific time of year you’re hosting your gathering. That way, you can be assured the ingredients will be as fresh and as homegrown as possible.

greener entertaining garden herbs and veggies

Try to use free range chicken and eggs, locally-sourced fruit and veg, and fresh garden herbs. (You can even easily grow a few herbs yourself!) For the drinks menu, why not serve your own fruit punch, freshly-squeezed juices, or homemade lemonade?

green entertaining homemade lemonade

Don’t forget – when you shop for all these meal ingredients, consider using a tote bag rather than plastic bags! Australian shoppers use approximately 3.92 billion plastic bags annually, a staggering figure when you consider how often these end up in our oceans.

A Greener Presentation

Opt for dinnerware, drinkware, glassware, and servingware you can keep and use time and again. Not only will this make for a better table spread, it will also help reduce waste.

Melamine is a perfect choice for parties. It’s durable, lightweight, and usually quite colourful – great for kids’ birthdays and picnics! There’s a huge range of melamine products out there, from dinner plates to drinking cups.

greener entertaining Kokomo Melamine Plate (Set of 4) from Jennifer Lia, available at Zanui

Kokomo Melamine Plate (Set of 4) from Jennifer Lia, available at Zanui.

Drinks served in traditional glass vessels can add a formal feeling to your dining occasion. You don’t have to bust out your fanciest crystal wine glasses (unless it’s a really formal occasion) — any old glassware will do.

greener entertaining Maxwell & Williams Cosmopolitan glassware, available at Zanui.

Maxwell & Williams Cosmopolitan glassware, available at Zanui.

Stoneware or porcelain plates and bowls can also add an extra element of sophistication to your dining event. You’ll make a better impression serving your delicious roast on porcelain plates than on paper plates, trust us.

greener entertaining stoneware

Ecology Speckle Dinnerware, available at Zanui.

Lastly, when you serve munchies or self-serve snacks on wooden serving boards, choose those made of sustainable wood types like mango wood or bamboo.

greener entertaining Ecology Arcadian servingware, available at Zanui.

Ecology Arcadian servingware, available at Zanui.

You can also reduce waste by allowing guests to serve themselves. If guests can decide on their own meal portions, everyone will get exactly as much as they want to eat.

A Greener Clean Up

Promote recycling wherever possible. Have a recycle bin within sight for disposal of drink cans and glass and plastic bottles. This doesn’t even have to be an actual recycle bin – a simple plastic tub or dustbin will do.

Compost organic matter if you can. It’s estimated that about half of all household waste in Australia is organic matter. This takes up space in landfills when it could be put to better use.

It’s very easy to put together you own compost bin at home, and composting your organic waste can be an extremely rewarding way of helping to protect the environment. You can learn more about composting here.

When you wash those reusable napkins and tablecloths we mentioned earlier, be sure to use the best setting for that particular wash. Front loader washing machines are usually better at saving water than top loaders, but we understand if you don’t want to rush out and buy a new washing machine for the sake of washing up after a dinner party! Use the right amount of detergent – and preferably one that’s grey water safe. Lastly, when possible, hang things out to air dry rather than use an electric dryer.


Do you have any tips for hosting a greener get-together? Let us know in the comments below!

Elizabeth is a digital content writer and copy editor from Sydney, Australia, with a degree in Media & Communications from the University of New South Wales. When she isn't writing for Zanui, she's usually attempting further study, burying her head in a novel (or writing her own), pestering her cat, or desperately trying to keep her small potted succulent alive.