How to Throw a Stress-Free Zero Waste Holiday Party

The Holiday Waste Dilemma

Did you know that over the course of the Christmas holidays the average American family creates up to 25 percent more waste? 25 percent more than the rest of the year!

It’s not hard to see where it all comes from. As soon as Dec 1 rolls around, the number of gifts we receive, the amount of traveling we do and the number of parties we attend skyrockets to an entirely new level.

Each party we throw brings with it all sorts of convenient, pre-made appetizers, disposable plates and cutlery, and tons of unrecyclable decorations.

We do all this to save time and uphold an image of glamour. But at what cost?

A Different Approach

I don’t know about you, but I’m getting tired of the rat race that comes with Christmas. We have a tendency to expend ourselves so deeply, working to the bone to give one more gift or throw one more event.

Wouldn’t you rather enjoy quality time with family and friends? I know I do.

How to Throw a Stress-Free Zero Waste Holiday Party (2)

How to Throw a Stress-Free Zero Waste Holiday Party

Throwing a holiday party can be fun, waste-free and easy! Here are some of my favorite ways to shift the focus away from stuff and back to people, all while creating less waste and less stress.


1) Plan ahead and give yourself the time you need to avoid stress.

Preparation is the name of the game! Think ahead: What vibe are you going for with this party? Can you relieve any stress by making the event a potluck? Are there any cookies or party foods you can make ahead of time and freeze till the day of?

2) Replace disposables with beautiful reusables that you’ll use again.

Rather than purchasing new sets of plastic cutlery and paper plates every year, can you invest in a set of melamine or glass plates instead? Spend an afternoon combing through thrift stores and antique shops to collect little tea plates and glass silverware for an eclectic look.

3) Shop with glass containers and reusable cloth bags.

If you’ll be doing a lot of cooking, do your grocery shopping at a bulk store and shop package-free! Bring mason jars and cloth bags with you to tote produce and bulk grains. You’ll be amazed how much packaging you can avoid this way!

How to Throw a Stress-Free Zero Waste Holiday Party


4) Use simple, natural elements wherever you can.

Pick up leftover evergreen boughs from your local Christmas tree farm and use them throughout your home. Decorate your table with these, create garlands and wreaths, or create table arrangements in a vase you already own. Integrate some candles and you’ll have a gorgeous set-up!

5) Decorate a tree or topiary you already have potted.

Do you have a potted topiary or small tree on your back patio that you can move inside for the event? Decorate it with some lights and ornaments and you’ll have an instant feature piece that brightens up the room.

6) Borrow specialty items from a friend.

Odds are, that specialty baking pan, cake stand or decoration you’ve wanted to use already exists in your friend circle. Ask around!

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In the Moment

7) Take out any aspect that keeps you playing host and join the party!

Don’t force yourself into a dinner party that keeps you constantly serving. Serve the meal buffet style or host a potluck so that you can join the party, rather than limit yourself to the kitchen.

8) Focus on the people around you.

Once the food is on the table, stop worrying about it. Shift your attention to the people that came to enjoy it with you!

9) Settle into quality conversations.

Christmas is a time to focus on people. Let yourself fall into deeper conversations and do whatever you can to enrich the lives of the people you love.

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10) Send leftover appetizers and desserts with guests in reusable mason jars as a little gift.

Unless you’re set on keeping the goodies for yourself, relieve yourself of the need to store leftovers and send them with your guests! Get mason jars on sale in the weeks before, then pack up piles of cookies for your friends so they can enjoy them.

11) Rinse and soak plates overnight, then handle the dishes in the morning.

The party is finished, your guests have gone home. Don’t worry about cleaning up yet. Soak dirty dishes in the sink so they don’t get crusty and save the real clean up for tomorrow.

12) Soak soiled cloth napkins in a stain-remover solution overnight then toss in the laundry the next day.

Replacing paper napkins with linens is a great way to reduce party waste. Pick them up around your home and soak with a little stain-remover in a bucket overnight, then do your laundry in the morning. They’ll be good as new for next time.


Chen Boon Fook
Chen Boon Fook2 years ago


Jim Ven
Jim Ven2 years ago

thanks for sharing.

Marie W
Marie W2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Jim Ven
Jim Ven2 years ago

thanks for sharing.

Mariana L
Mariana L2 years ago

Thanks for sharing

Clare R
Clare R2 years ago

"Use simple, natural elements wherever you can" - good tips

Cyn F
Cyn F2 years ago

Helpful tips. Thanks for sharing

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Angela K.
Angela K2 years ago


Virginia Miller
Virginia Miller2 years ago

Good ideas, thanks.