How to be an Eco-Friendly Holiday Guest

With the holiday season comes a number of parties—everything from parties with friends and family to co-workers. The main thing I loathe about all the parties, is all the waste. Following are some tips for helping out the host or hostess in ways that will help the party be more eco-friendly.

Host/Hostess Gifts. It’s always nice to show up at a holiday party with a little something for the host. Try to think of something the host can really use, not something that will just be a dust collector.

-        Kitchen Composter. If you are going to the home of someone who gardens, this can be a neat gift. This compact kitchen composter has a one gallon capacity (think a gallon of milk) and can sit right on your kitchen counter. It will save your hostess the hassle of running out to her compost bin every day.

-        Hand-Potted Herbs. As someone who loves to cook with fresh herbs, this is something I know I would love to receive as a hostess. In addition to giving someone herbs they can cook with, you could also give them fresh herbs with healing properties. A lot of the herbs have a soothing fragrance to them, as well.

-        A gift certificate for a spa treatment. While this may be a little pricier, it will certainly be appreciated. After hosting a big holiday meal, something the hostess could certainly use is a professional massage. As a bonus, you won’t be creating any additional waste.

-        Of course there are also the old stand-bys—organic chocolates and organic wine. What hostess wouldn’t like either one?

Bring a Dish of Food

It’s always a good idea to ask your hostess what you can bring. Whenever I host a holiday I plan to make the main dish, a couple of the main sides and at least one appetizer. I then assign the rest. For example, the people who I know will be on time are the ones who get to bring appetizers, and the people who I’m sure will be last to leave generally are assigned desserts. If you know you’re never on time, then my first piece of advice is to figure out what you’re doing wrong, and get to the host’s house on time. It’s very frustrating to a hostess who is preparing a huge meal when her guests don’t respect the time she has given them. It’s also quite rude.

A lot of guests like to bring their assigned dish in disposable containers (like those aluminum trays). My recommendation would be to bring food in a nice dish. Personally, I love to cook in Pyrex glass dishes and casserole dishes. They’re aesthetically pleasing (who wants to sit at Christmas dinner staring at ugly old tin?) and they are good for the environment (no waste!). When dinner is done, you can put what’s left in your dish into one of the hostesses containers for left overs. And, if the hostess offers you leftovers, you now have something to keep them in—the dish you brought food in.

When cooking your portion of the meal, cook it like you normally would. Use fresh, organic ingredients whenever possible. There’s nothing quite like a meal made with fresh ingredients. Also, remember the little healthier things you can substitute when cooking. For example, whenever I’m make my holiday butter cookies, rather than use shortening, I use applesauce (half the amount of applesauce as the amount of shortening the recipe calls for).

Help With Clean Up

I always love when my guests help with clean-up. After cleaning the house prior to everyone’s arrival, preparing a huge meal and barely getting a chance to sit down and enjoy said meal, the last thing the tired hostess wants to think about is clearing the table and washing dishes. Why not do her a favor. Roll up your sleeves, and help out. One year when I hosted Christmas, there was a guest who I swear cleaned up everything. She was a Godsend! I’ve had other times when I’ve hosted an event and the only offer of help came as I was carrying the last table back to the garage. No hostess wants to feel like she’s doing all the work, so make sure you lend a hand.

Enjoy the holidays, and remember a good guest gets future invitations!

 

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