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Throw an Earth Day picnic party

Elise Stephens blogs about relationships, life, and inspiration at www.elisestephens.com. She received the Eugene Van Buren Prize for Fiction from the University of Washington in 2007. Her novel Moonlight and Oranges was a quarter-final...

Bringing the outdoors inside

If you live in an apartment or even a town home, the idea of throwing a dinner party might bring on pangs of claustrophobia, but don’t worry! Take this outdoor-inspired approach that clears away the table and chairs to make room for a style that conjures up a sense of fresh air and nature — throw a picnic party in honor of Earth Day this month.

Bringing the outdoors inside

Recyclable and reusable

Since the theme of this holiday is making things easy on the planet, start by re-using what you already have on hand. Use old quilts or blankets as your picnic carpets instead of going out and buying new ones. You can even ask friends to bring their own. For decorations, why not snip some fresh sprigs from outside and arrange them in mugs from your cupboard, or even re-use the non-shamrock decor left over from St. Patrick's Day last month? The color theme for your party should range in natural and earth tones, if possible.

Fresh menu

Since "going green" is such a central part of this event, why not combine it with the picnic idea of "finger foods" and serve easy edibles in recycled containers? Glass jam jars make great serving jars, and you can put sliced cucumbers, whole green grapes, celery sticks, pickles, sliced kiwi and pears in them. Guacamole with chips is another great snack idea. If you want to keep the green theme going all the way into the main course, try a pasta salad with zucchini, basil pesto and spinach noodles.

Favors and clean-up

The fun of taking things into the casual realm and sitting cross-legged while enjoying a meal might be all the goodies your friends need! However, if you want to go the extra mile, natural beeswax candles or energy-saving light bulbs can make good and useful favors. Set up three bins labeled "recycle," "compost" and "landfill" and ask your guests to dump their dishes and leftovers into the appropriate spots.

Whether you decide to keep this party simple or pull out all the stops, you and your friends will have a great, down-to-earth time eating and visiting in the spirit of the outdoors.

More spring ideas

What to wear to a spring party
52 Cheap ways to go green

4 Outdoor Earth Day activities

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