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How to Host a Green Holiday Meal
Shaina Olmanson

The holidays are upon us, and with them comes the joy of entertaining. Entertaining and keeping your holiday cheer green can often feel as if they don't go hand in hand. However, this doesn't have to be the case. You can deck out the house, plan an extravagant menu, and invite family and friends over to celebrate the season, all while keeping it eco-friendly. 

Planning Your Menu
The most obvious thing you can do when working to host a green holiday is in choosing your food from sustainable sources. Both local and organic are better choices for sourcing your food than the alternative. Pick your meat wisely (read How to Choose Your Turkey), and source your produce similarly. Locally grown food has a smaller carbon footprint than conventionally grown, and organic farming practices are better for the land because of crop rotation, fewer pesticides, reduced agricultural runoff and so many other reasons.
Also, be sure to plan plenty of produce-heavy options for your holiday meal. Eating a balanced diet includes one heavy in fruits and vegetables, and it's been shown that eating a diet that is heavy in produce is better for the planet. A menu heavy in plants and with responsibly-sourced meat will have great returns for your green holiday.

Setting Your Table
The obvious way to go green this holiday season is to use reusable settings for your holiday table. This means cloth napkins and a tablecloth, silverware, glassware, and china. Use the holiday feast as a time to pull out those special plates and the good silver and appreciate them. 
The desire for convenience can often push us to purchase disposable plates and silverware. Sometimes it's a necessity given space or numbers. If you go this route, choose compostable plates and those made from recycled materials.

Gather Your Garbage
With any type of party, there is always waste, but there are easy ways you can reduce it. First, start by asking your guests to bring reusable containers for leftovers. This way the food won't go to waste, and you also won't need to waste plastic bags or disposable containers on packaging it up to send with your guests.
Have a compost bin and a recycle bin beside the trash bin. Collect all food scraps and other compostables right alongside the actual garbage, and then bring them out to your pile to give it some fuel and energy. Having a recycle bin that's easy to access also means it's less likely bottles and cans end up in the trash.

Decorate in the Raw
Decorations for holidays are a huge market. Not only are many of them single-use, but they're made of all types of plastics. Rather than plastic to deck your house for the party, start first by looking at home. Cranberries and popcorn are festive garlands that can be strung through the house. Wreaths and decorations made from found and purchased pinecones and pine tree branches are a great resource for making the space feel festive. Holiday colored fabrics can be purchased at the fabric store and reused for years to come to cover tables and create ribbons and bows. Then be sure to look for beeswax and soy candles over paraffin for green holiday mood lighting.

These are just a few of the many ideas that can turn your holiday celebration into an eco-friendly, sustainable one while still celebrating the season, family, friends, and togetherness.