Christmas parties and events can often be a recipe for an environmental disaster, producing lots of waste, racking up big carbon footprints and costing lots of money in the process. If you’d like to do things differently this year, then take a look at our top tips for planning and booking your Christmas event.
There are always numerous events going on during the festive scene - with work colleagues, your family or groups of friends, and always lots of suggestions about where to go. Just because there’s lots of choice, however, doesn’t mean that you have to go too far afield. There are many advantages to staying local, the main one being environmental of course, but your guests will also appreciate the cheaper taxi or fuel costs. By encouraging guests to share transport, they can save even more money and they’ll also be safer and further reduce the environmental impact of the event.
There are many venues out there that are committed to reducing their carbon footprint. Look for ones that have environmental management systems like ISO 14001 in place. Holding this certification demonstrates that they have a long term commitment to green issues and are genuinely working to improve their environmental impact throughout the whole business. If there are no accredited venues suitable for you, then there are still things that you can consider when making your selection:
- Do they have an environmental policy?
- Does the venue recycle their waste?
- Do they use air conditioning? Although your guests might think this is great for a hot summer party, the effects of air conditioning on our climate are quite ‘chilling’ and, at Christmas time, unnecessary!
- Do they source their food locally?
- Do they use disposable napkins, cups, glasses or cutlery?
- Do they meet with your ‘Green Goals’? If you have a goal to reduce all waste associated with your business activities, and the venue doesn’t have a recycling programme, then you’ll probably want to look at other options.
In 2011, an estimated £2.5 billion was wasted from discarded food in the UK hospitality and food service sector. This is expected to rise to £3.0 billion by 2016. If you overestimate the amount of food needed at your event, then you could be throwing your money away too. A good solution is to go with finger food; try canapés or a buffet and, if you get the portion sizes right, there’ll be far less waste than there would be with a sit down meal. To find out more about portion sizes and catering for events, visit the Love Food Hate Waste website.
4. Added extras only mean added expense!
Party hats, crackers, streamers and poppers all end up in the bin yet (in my view) these extras add little value to your event. Avoid this waste and extra cost by giving your guests a goodie bag which includes environmentally friendly gifts like wild flower seeds, or bottle top bird feeders. Seed packets could cost you less than a £1 each, even with a bespoke messages printed on them, so they won’t make you go over your ‘extras’ budget.
There’s really no need to use any paper in relation to your event anymore. Invitations can be sent out to guests electronically through a variety of platforms – email, social media, or through a dedicated event website that you can build free on sites such as Splash or Eventbrite. Or, if you wanted to try something really different, you could even have your invites printed on plantable seed paper that grows wildflowers when planted.
6. Games and Activities
Why not spice up this year’s Christmas activities and reduce your event’s environmental impact at the same time? You can do this by organising activities that don’t use energy, require manmade materials or produce waste. Let your guests enjoy the great outdoors by putting on a scavenger hunt, or making Christmas wreaths from fallen holly, twigs and pine cones. There are so many natural resources out there which you can use – and they’re free!
You can put on a fantastic Christmas party or event whilst also making it cost effective and sustainable. As with all aspects of event management, it just comes down to the planning. If you do your research and shop around, rather than sticking to the same format as last year, then you really can have the environmentally friendly Christmas event that you want.