Tips For Hosting An Eco-Friendly Holiday


It’s no secret that the holidays have become a time of overconsumption and excess, filled with stress to boot. Consumerism reaches an all-time high in the final quarter of the year as shoppers scramble to purchase gifts for friends and family, often buying mass-produced, cheaply made items that inevitably end up in a landfill. Not to mention that most wrapping paper and holiday cards are discarded when the season ends. But we’re here to show you that having an eco-friendly holiday is more realistic than you may think!

Since we’re extremely passionate about making our day-to-day lives more sustainable, we decided to share tips to help you have a more eco-friendly holiday. From planning a plant-based menu to gifting experiences instead of things, there’s sure to be a helpful tip for any type of affair.

Keep reading to discover creative ways to host an eco-friendly holiday for your loved ones this year!

Share Your Eco-Friendly Vision With Guests Prior To The Event

Whether you’re sending a formal invitation—evites are a great way to go paper-free, or you can look for biodegradable or compostable material for printed invites—or simply inviting loved ones via text or a phone call, we recommend mentioning to your guests that you are aiming to have an eco-friendly holiday gathering.

Share your ideas with guests and encourage them to consider sustainable options if they plan to contribute. That could be a plant-based side dish or dessert, organic, sustainably grown wine, or even assistance with decorating beforehand or cleaning up afterwards! You can also remind guests to bring empty food storage containers to take leftovers home with them after the party to make sure food doesn’t go to waste.

Plan A Sustainable Menu

Sustainable charcuterie with fresh fruits, nuts and chocolate
Image via Sistain

Plants have a much lower carbon footprint than animal products overall, so focusing your menu on plant-based options is an easy way to host a more sustainable holiday party.

Charcuterie boards are one of our favorite ways to create a delicious AND stunning design element to any party. Load up on nuts, crostini’s, berries, vegetables, and use cheeses and meats sparingly. Or better yet replace them with dairy and meat alternatives. 

If you’re a traditionalist that loves to serve a baked ham or roasted chicken as a main course, simply plan to have side dishes that focus on plants. Think green beans, salads, or roasted potatoes.

Shop Locally & Look To Nature For Decor

Look to Nature for Holiday Decor East and Gray Interiors
Image via Food52

Check local farmer’s markets and flea markets when shopping for food and decor for your holiday party. These are also wonderful places to discover local businesses that make their own goods. We’ve found delicious honey, jams, breads and pastries, and even locally raised meat and dairy products!

Think about items you already have in your home that you can repurpose and use for holiday decor. Here are some ideas for sustainable decor:

  • Instead of buying a tree, create one out of stacked books strung with lights
  • Collect leaves from your yard or from floral arrangements to create gift tags or place cards—written with non-toxic markers of course
  • Create a centerpiece from a bowl filled with fruits and pinecones
  • Relive memories of holidays past by setting out old holiday cards in a bowl or basket
  • Use branches, clipped greenery, and elements from the backyard to create centerpieces, arrangements, garland and more!
Eco-friendly holiday party ideas name tag made from leaf place setting
Image via Honestly Modern
Sustainable DIY Christmas tree alternative made from hung branches with ornaments
Image via The Green Girl

Load up on holiday greenery and other in-season plants for simple, gorgeous table centerpieces and mantle decor.

You can often find soy or beeswax candles at local markets which create a beautiful ambiance and warmth throughout the home. It’s a beautiful way to elevate the vibe of the gathering while still having eco-friendly holiday decor.

Here is a list of our favorite floral shops in Columbus that create stunning floral arrangements:

Rethink Gift Wrapping

Millions of pounds of wrapping paper are thrown away each year in the U.S. The vast majority of this waste stems from the holiday season! In lieu of purchasing cheap, plastic-laden wrapping paper, we encourage you to think outside the box (pun intended) and find more eco-friendly wrapping alternatives for gifts. 

Eco-Friendly Gift Wrapping Tips:

Recyclable or compostable paper from craft stores is a great option for people who want a classic look to their wrapping. Just skip the tape and tie the finished package with twine, or bind the edges with an old-fashioned wax seal! You can even use old magazines or newspapers from around the house to create artful, colorful wrapping for gifts.

Here’s one of our favorite waste-free wrapping hacks for an eco-friendly holiday: gift linen napkins, reusable muslin produce bags, or a new dish towel with each gift and use these cloths as the wrapping paper, gently knotted or tied with twine! This is a really fun way to completely cut out waste, and it doubles as a bonus gift!

These are our favorite stores to purchase gift wrap items, as well as tons of other sustainable household and beauty products:

Sustainable gift wrapping made from cloth wrapped with holly
Image via Pasinga

Gift Experiences Instead of Things

Connecting with people has become more important than ever after the past couple of years. Instead of giving physical gifts, consider giving experiences where you can connect with family, friends, or nature.

When people look back at holidays past, they likely won’t remember what they gave or got. They’re much more likely to remember the time spent and memories made with loved ones. Giving experiences opens opportunities to make joyous memories you’ll cherish forever. 

One of our all-time favorite experience gifts is an annual pass to our National Parks! Other ideas we love are:

  • Passes or gift certificates to spas and fitness studios
  • Online or in-person courses for something your loved one has always wanted to learn such as guitar lessons, plant care, art classes, coding,
  • Planning a vacation or adventure experience

The possibilities are endless! 

Clean Up Mindfully

Pretty, stylish dish rack in a cozy kitchen
Image via Rocky Hedge Farm

Staying mindful during cleanup can help divert waste created by a large gathering. If you’re unable to use glass or ceramic dishware, purchase paper products that have a high recycled paper content and/or can be composted.

Did you know that paper plates, bowls, cups and napkins cannot be recycled if they are soiled with food? This is because the grease, oil and lingering food particles gum up the recycling plant machines, often breaking them or causing them to shut down for hours or days to be cleaned and fixed. 

When it comes to food, we encourage you to collect food scraps to be composted. If you have a composting bin, that’s great! No composting bin? Simply set aside a bag or container of food scraps and look up local drop-off points for composting services in your area! You can also bury biodegradable food waste deep in the backyard if you live on a large plot of land.

For Columbus locals, here is a list of composting drop-off points throughout the Columbus area, and a list of pick-up services you can join! 

If you want to learn even more about food waste and what you can do to help reduce the nearly 40% of food that is wasted every year in America, check out the Save More Than Food Initiative. Take the challenge yourself and share this campaign with your family and friends!

Eco-Friendly Product Picks

After the party when you’re ready for clean-up, we ADORE these eco-conscious laundry sheets from Earth Breeze. You’ll love how effective they are! The small footprint they take up in your laundry room. Plus their gentle, eco-friendly ingredients. We’re confident you’ll end up making the switch to these laundry sheets permanently!

For cleaning dishes and the rest of your home, we cannot recommend enough Blueland’s and Grove’s lines of cleaning products.

Lastly, collect any dried greenery and flowers and discard in your yard or a local forest where it can decompose naturally instead of throwing it into the trash.

Empty glass or aluminum candle vessels can be recycled or reused as vases or makeup brush holders, so think twice before tossing!

Before tossing or recycling any other waste that is left over at the end of your holiday, see if there are ways that you can reuse any of it.

If any of these ideas inspire you to host an eco-conscious holiday this season, take it one step further and see how you can incorporate some of these practices into your daily life in the new year ahead! It’s never too early to start on those New Year’s resolutions!

Wishing you a happy, healthy, and eco-friendly holiday season! 

Learn more about us and sustainable, eco-friendly design here.

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Interior Designer Andrea Durcik Columbus Ohio

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Traveling, animals, and all things design encompass Andrea’s life, fueling her creative energy every step of the way.

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