Good news: your holiday spending is done; bad news: your New Year’s Eve party is coming up…so how can you plan a party that is both inexpensive and eco-friendly? Remember, your guests are coming to have a great evening, not to be impressed by how much money you spend.
Even if you buy invitations at the dollar store to save money, that’s a dollar you don’t have to spend. Before the party, send e-vites or call friends to invite them. Both are free and just as effective.
Don’t buy noisemakers. What’s better to ring in the New Year than a joyful cheer? If you want confetti, put your paper shredder to work on yesterday’s newspaper or give paper to the kids with a hole-punch to keep them busy on a cold afternoon.
Look in your pantry and freezer when planning the menu. Build your menu off of what you have instead of making a menu and then buying everything. Even better, ask guests to bring an appetizer or drink. You won’t have to store and cook food for a crowd, saving the fridge, oven, and dishwasher.
Encourage everyone to carpool. Carpooling saves gas and keeps the street outside your home from getting crowded. It also allows more guests to enjoy a toast at midnight, since you can have one designated driver for each carload.
When you decorate, think of things you can repurpose.
- Use the lights you just took off the tree to create mood lighting, such as pooling them in a glass vase.
- Use paper lanterns; even if you have to buy them for this party, they can be re-used, unlike streamers and balloons.
- Have lots of candles? Light them instead of turning on the lights. Arrange them in every room to create an intimate glow…and save on the electric bill. If you buy more to supplement what you have, remember to buy soy or beeswax instead of paraffin to eliminate toxic fumes.
- Use plates, cups, flatware, and napkins that you already have instead of buying disposables. Your friends won’t care if their plates say “2012” on them.
- If you must buy plates and cups, get ones made from recycled material, and then recycle them again…you’ll save water and electricity by not running the dishwasher.
During the party:
- Have recycle bins handy and visible. Make sure all the guests know where they are.
- Turn down the thermostat. Lots of bodies make lots of heat (plus the heat put out by all those candles you’ve got burning), so you can give your furnace a break.
Remember the most important thing on December 31st is to make it memorable, not to spend a lot on decorations that will end up in the trash. A little bit of creativity goes a long way towards saving money and helping the Earth. Happy New Year!