10 simple ways to green your next party

Mar 24, 2010 at 11:17 a.m. ET

It used to be that "going green" required a lot of research, dedication and unpopular choices. But these days, greening your habits to fit a more environmentally responsible lifestyle has never been easier. What better time to share your eco-friendly choices than at your next party, holiday or family get-together?

Organic Party

If you have a party on the horizon, show your guests just how easy it is to go green -- even when you're celebrating! These 10 simple steps should do the trick.

Grab a green frock

All eyes will be on you as the hostess, so pick your party outfit carefully. Consider wearing a Fair Trade garment or organic cotton, bamboo or hemp. When the compliments start rolling, be sure to promote the eco-friendly aspect of your fashion choice.

Go organic

Design your menu using locally sourced, organic ingredients. Items such as fresh herbs, free-range chicken and whole-grain pizza dough may be a little more expensive, but think quality over quantity. Instead of having a whole bunch of leftovers, make just enough to satisfy your guests.

Use the real stuff

Avoid using plastic or paper plates. Real china elevates your soiree to "elegant" status and reduces your party's impact on landfills. If you don't have enough to accommodate your guests, rent some more rather than buying plates you'll never use again. Another eco-friendly alternative is compostable partyware that looks like plastic but is made from corn, potatoes and sugar cane.

Clean up responsibly

Do you ever notice how party guests seem to fly through napkins without giving a thought to the waste? Encourage them to use only one by using cloth rather than paper. Another option is to use recycled, unbleached napkins and paper towels.

Rent, don't buy

Chances are you don't own enough tables, chairs, tablecloths and other party paraphernalia to meet your needs. Take a stand against the culture of excess by renting rather than buying these items (even if you find a great sale).

Promote recycling

Encourage your guests to embrace the green movement by providing recycling receptacles near the trash cans. Hang a little sign above this bin telling guests which items can be recycled.

Decorate with nature

Is there any better decorator than Mother Nature? Take some decorating cues from the outdoors rather than buying packaged decorations from the store. Tap into your creative side by grabbing some seasonal foliage, rocks, branches, shells or potted plants.

Serve green drinks

Green beer may be a St. Patrick's Day tradition, but you can take this concept a step further. Serve biodynamic wine, organic beer, fresh-squeezed juices and Fair Trade coffee. Consider creating an eco-themed custom cocktail just for your event (maybe a green mojito with plenty of organic mint).

Spread some green love

Share your green tips with your guests by displaying a small sign (on handmade or recycled paper) promoting the environmentally responsible aspects of the party. They'll see how easy it is and may even consider going green themselves.

Pay it forward

Plant some eco-friendly thoughts by sending your guests home with a green gift such as handmade soap, local honey, a beeswax candle, or seeds with instructions for starting a vegetable garden. You don't have to break the bank to make an impact.