December is approaching, and this only means two things –
“It’s party time again!” and “What?!? Yet another party?”

Love it or hate it, you can’t deny that Christmas parties always leave you with this warm fuzzy feeling inside. Surrounded with happy people, delicious food and whimsical music, there will definitely be lots of merrymaking and jolly good times. But while it’s “the most wonderful time of the year”, it’s certainly not the most eco-friendly with everyone generating 25% more waste during this holiday season. Remember all the garbage hangover you have to clear and leftover party food you have to eat for the next entire week? Well, things can get a little overdone, doesn’t it?

This festive season, let’s all gift Mother Earth with a little love. May it be Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Year, here are some fun ideas to green your parties without compromising on any festive cheer!

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Invitation

Skip physical invitation cards. With the wonders of modern technology, there are so many ways to make your virtual invitation exciting.

(1) Facebook event
– Allows you to have a better gauge of the number of people who will be attending = better planning = less food and logistical wastage. It also allows you to update your guests every now and then to keep them excited about the party.

(2) Digital poster
– Here’s your chance to be creative! Everyone can be a graphic designer these days. From websites like Canva, Paperless post, Greenvelope, Meme generator to softwares like Microsoft Word/PowerPoint and WhatsApp (simply add a personal touch by adding emojis, text and brush strokes to existing photos), design has never been easier.

(3) Email/ text message/ call/ meet up
– No need to be fancy, just keep it simple, keep it personal.

Gifts

We know it’s the season of giving but it’s also a season for loving. Show care and consideration for your recipient by helping them to avoid the burden of owning more than they need or can enjoy. Often, these well-intentioned gifts eventually lead to more stress, for the giver and the receiver. Of course it will be most ideal if the gifts are happily used but surely (as the gifter) you wouldn’t want the receiver to use it out of obligation, or to put it away without using it, only to feel guilty every time he/she sees it.

(1) Re-gifting is ok – Many times in life, we receive gifts we don’t like or don’t use but we still keep it because we are sentimental like that. The ringing thought of someone spending precious time picking out a gift keeps lingering in your mind, preventing you from tearing yourself away from the gift that you have no purpose for. However, you shouldn’t feel guilty re-gifting a gift. The true purpose of a gift is to be received. Simply be thankful for the joy the gift gave when you first received it then pass it on to someone who needs it or appreciates it more than you do. (But be careful not to force something onto someone just because you can’t bring yourself to discard them.)

(2) Homemade is heartmade – Bake some cookies, make a jam, pick some flowers, get a plant, write a poem, give a massage, tell a joke, give a kiss, there are so many simple things you can do to let someone know you care. The best things in life are free, so don’t let advertisers find ways to sell something to you, unless your recipient requested for it.

(3) Gift wrap – First, ask yourself if you even need one? Will the gift lose its value sans a wrap? However, if it’s part of a surprise or a secret-gift game someone is planning, here are some green ideas to wrap your gifts with.

  • Reusable bag
  • Fabric (old clothes/ scarves/ handkerchief)
  • Natural materials like burlap or hemp
  • Newspaper (iron them to give them an aged look)/ magazines/ comics/ music scores/ books/ kids artwork/ maps
  • Old wrappers/ paper bags from previous years
  • Glass jars/ wooden boxes/ metal containers

(4) Gift experience, not things – Take this opportunity to spend more time with your gift-receiver. Learn something together, watch a concert or a play, have a cook-out, go for a spa, donate to a charity, volunteer, travel. Make this christmas a memorable one for everyone.

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Decoration

All you need is less. This year, challenge yourself to not buy anything.

(1) Reuse – Your old decorations are fine. Look at what you already have and make the best out of them. An old but useful trick would be to reposition your decorations. If your Christmas tree used to be at this corner of the house, move it somewhere else. If your lights used to be on your tree, move it somewhere else. Even the dining table where you used to host your guests, move it somewhere else. Create a different look and feel with the same decorations every year by moving things around.

(2) Repurpose and upcycle – Look around your house and make something out of anything. Again, homemade is always heartmade.

(3) Decorate with nature – Go rustic with dried leaves, twigs, orange peels and cinnamon sticks, or a summer-y Christmas with fresh plants and flowers from the backyard/garden/park.

(4) For people who don’t DIY – Just have candles around. Possibly some Christmas scented ones and it will begin to smell a lot like Christmas.

(5) For things you can’t DIY – Buy second-hand or even better — rent or borrow and save yourself the hassle of finding storage space after all the festivities.

(6) Get your guests to participate – Request for everyone to bring just ONE christmas trinket/bauble/candle to the party and let them decorate for you! Before they leave, let your guests exchange the item they brought with something someone else brought. (Doesn’t it double up as a nice door gift for your guests to bring home too? Hohoho!)

(7) Music changes everything – Add some holiday cheer by playing Christmas music on the background. It instantly makes everything feel christmas-y.

Utensils

We know it’s really convenient to choose one-time-use disposables especially when you have a big party but they really do end up in our landfills and oceans, so think twice.

(1) Have finger food – Like pizzas, pies, cakes, salsas, spring rolls, chocolates, you get the idea… This way, you won’t need utensils for everyone!

(2) Organize smaller parties – Have 2-3 small parties instead of 1 big one so that you don’t need to have a large inventory of plates and utensils to cater for the large number.

Food

Plan ahead to avoid food waste and also, to avoid eating leftover christmas food for an entire week.

(1) Locally-sourced – Reduce your carbon footprint by buying local. It cuts down resources on packaging and transportation.

(2) Stone soup – This idea is inspired by Nicolette from Kampung Picnic. You just need to prepare a soup base (like a hot pot/ steamboat) and have your guest each contribute an ingredient to throw into the soup and tadaa, stone soup!

(3) Pot luck – Stress less by having your guests each bring a dish. And with the containers they bring their dishes in, your guests can pack some leftovers (if any) back home after the party.

There you have it, your very own Green Christmas! You may have realized that some of our suggestions call for the involvement of many of your guests but don’t brush those ideas off just yet! Give them a shot, the holiday season is always a good time for friends and families to gather so don’t be afraid to get your guests involved. You will be surprised by how much more engaging the party would be when you have everyone contributing and sharing! Christmas greening can be fun and easy for everyone! Happy holidays!