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Tips for eco-chic entertaining

Although holiday entertaining is only a memory (thank heaven) I wanted to post this for those who make hospitality a part of their lives  all year long. These are ideas that will work any time of the year you’d like to honor your friends and the planet at the same time.

Green entertaining encourages a new way of looking at every aspect of how we celebrate. The obvious food issues—How were ingredients grown? How far have they traveled?—are just the beginning. Choices about everything else, from recycled invitations to Fair Trade cappuccino, provide lots more opportunities to do the right thing.

I hope that with the help of these tips (and more to come in the next weeks) green entertaining will not only be easy to manage, it will make your special occasions more satisfying and richer.

The Set Up

For casual events, use e-vites, or other online sources, instead of wasteful snail mail invitations. For a formal fête, purchase invitations made from recycled paper from companies like Greener Printer orBaron Cards. Or use one of your photos to create your own personalized email-vites (if you have a Mac, use your “stationary” option in email).

• Use real plates, flatware and glasses (yours or rented) instead of paper or plastic.

If the size of your group or party location make renting impractical, look for biodegradable and renewable sources like sugarcane or recycled plastic from companies like Stalk Market and Cereplast.

• Use real glasses with one of the clever ID charms so guests won’t need more than 1 glass for each beverage.

• Put a menu on the buffet that lets guests know the local and organic choices you’ve made. Maybe include the name of the farm or grower that some of the ingredients came from. I always mention if my tomatoes are from Billy’s or the lamb is from Full Circle Farm. My friends love to know that stuff. It makes them feel more involved in the meal.

• Decorate with live plants, bowls of fruit or nuts, or organic, local flowers instead of exotic or imported flowers.

2. The Menu

• Plan less meat in your menu. When you do include meat, buy organic.

• I recommend you include at least 1/3 vegetarian (or, depending on your friends, vegan) menu choices. Dishes like Portobello Mushroom and Potato Gratin, Sweet Onion Soup, Caramelized Vegetables with Roasted Red Pepper Hummus and Garden Lasagna.

• Fish and seafood should be on the Monterey Bay Seafood Watch approved list. Festive holiday choices would include, spiny lobster; farmed Arctic Char, oysters, trout and mussels.

• If it’s a big party, plan what you will do with leftover food. Donate to Feeding America or another local foodbank operation.

3. The Beverage Table

• Look for organic and bio-dynamic wines. They have improved remarkably in the last several years, both in quality and availability. Good choices include selections from producers like BonterraBenzigerGrgich andSnoqualamie.

• Prepare an amazing special cocktail from seasonal ingredients, like pomegranate, apple or cranberry.

• Serve pitchers of filtered tap water at the bar—Brita anyone? Forget the designer water.

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Posted in A Conscious Feast, home & garden.

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