4 Simple Hacks for Hosting a More Sustainable (But No Less Epic) Dinner Party
We're about to enter the festive season, and there's never been a better time for intimate catch-ups with our nearest and dearest. And while a dinner party at home is a cosy way to connect and catch up with loved ones, it's also no small task. There's the guest list, invitations, menu planning, decor, the wine list, the playlist—the list goes on. Throw trying to do it sustainably into the mix, and you've got even more to think about.
Once you've got your head around the essentials with our beginner's guide to hosting a stress-free dinner party, you'll be ready to take it a step further. Dinner parties have typically been synonymous with excess—too much food, drink and plastic going to waste. Admittedly, a sustainable dinner party doesn't sound like the sexiest invite in town, but it doesn't have to be dull and dry. To level-up your dinner party game, here's a few simple ways to curb waste without sacrificing on style.
Do a stocktake
This includes a fridge, freezer and pantry stocktake—challenge yourself to use up odds and ends that you have, buying as little new food as possible. Dishes like minestrone are great for clearing out leftover veg and dried goods, as are simple pasta dishes that you can use as a canvas to add whatever else you've got on hand. This also goes for your drinks list—time to dust off all those bottles you've been gifted over the years, instead of heading out to the bottle shop to buy some more.
Learn to say yes
If your friends offer to bring something, say yes enthusiastically—but encourage them to bring something they already have—no buying allowed! You might end up with fresh rosemary from their herb garden that will adorn your focaccia, leftover veg for crudités or their favourite bottle of pinot noir that they've got on hand in the cellar. This'll force you to think outside the box by crafting your meal around these offers—and will also reduce the burden on your guests.
Love your leftovers
If you're left with tons of leftovers, take a considered few minutes to think carefully about what to do with them, instead of letting them fester in the back of the fridge until it's too late. As a general rule, the freezer is your friend for things like cooked meats and soups but if you can't freeze your leftovers, say a salad, send some home with your guests or drop some off to your neighbours the next day.
Leftover wine is great for cooking, and veggie scraps can be reinvented into a homemade stock if you don't compost. Jazz leftover bread up in the oven with a bit of olive oil, salt and herbs for great croutons or blitz them up into breadcrumbs for all your crumbing needs.
Resist the disposable trap
While it's very tempting to go down the disposable route and avoid the hassle of washing up by chucking it all away at the end of the night—investing in a few key pieces will save the shameful trip to the bin the next morning. The sustainable option of using real crockery will take more time, but the trade-off is the smug, guilt-free feeling at the end of the night.
If you've got a dishwasher, there's really no excuse to not use real crockery, and even if you wash by hand there's usually at least one guest who's happy to help with the dishes after you've gone to the effort of feeding their bellies. If you don't have a crockery set big enough for a dinner party, head down to your local op shop or antiques shop—you'll be surprised by the quality you might find there. I recently nabbed a cute set of five vintage Italian plates at my local antiques shop and know I'll get my money's worth after a few dinner parties. And even if you don't have a full matching set, mismatched is kind of on-trend, right?
Invest in quality tableware
Linen napkins and tablecloths are another worthwhile investment that save you from using paper or plastic—and look oodles more chic than their single-use counterparts. Opt for durable 100% French flax linen tablecloths, napkins and placemats like those in our Spreads. by Bed Threads range, and they'll be with you for years and years to come. Plus, they add colour and a touch of luxury to any table setting, making your dinner party a memorable one for your guests.