How to Plan an Incredible, Eco-Friendly Company Holiday Party by Estate Weddings and Events

Have you ever thrown an eco-friendly company holiday party? If not, now's definitely the time to start.

Corporations and businesses are becoming more and more aware of their impact on the environment, and many are taking huge steps to improve it. Google, for example, invested $200 million in a Texas wind farm last year, and that was only one of their investments!

Hosting an eco-friendly company holiday party is just the start for what your company can do to "go green." You may not be able to cut your impact on the environment as much as Google, but you'll be moving in the right direction! You should also consider hosting an eco-friendly party because it can end up being cheaper in the long run, which means you can put these savings towards more unique venues, activities, or employee gifts. There's a lot to think about when planning an eco-friendly company holiday party, so let's get started!

Invitations --

Fortunately, we're going to start at the super easy part of the planning stage.

Invitations are still the polite and formal way to tell people they're more than welcome to attend the company holiday party, so don't get rid of them entirely. Instead, replace any paper cards or invitations you normally send out with evites or emails to your employees. You can pick from tons of websites that let you send out free evites, or you can personalize the text and template within your installed email program.

Check that out -- you're already saving the green (money and the earth!), despite the mass email complaints. :)

 Eco-Friendly Company Holiday Party: Invitations

Photo from lululemon athletica via photopin cc

Venue --

You've got lots of great options for your party venue (but wherever you host, ask your employees to carpool to help reduce their carbon footprints).

For starters, try your own place of work -- you'll know the best ways to make an eco-friendly party work in your space, and you might even discover new ways to make it more efficient.

However, if you want a different scene, look for a venue that's sustainable, or has taken measures towards being sustainable. These venues tend to have the energy efficient appliances in their kitchens, LED or CFL bulbs for lighting, and lots of natural decor or furniture. And many times places like estates are more efficient than your typical hotels or convention centers. We've got some more venue selection tips for you to help you find the right location.

But if you're in a warmer part of the world, like California, consider hosting an outdoor party, like a picnic at a local park! The great outdoors don't cost anything to rent (usually), and as long as you make sure to clean up after yourselves, you can't get much more eco-friendly than partying under the sky.

 Eco-Friendly Company Holiday Party: The Venue

Photo from Estate Weddings and Events (Caballo Estate in Los Altos Hills, CA)

Food --

Food may be the most expensive part of your eco-friendly company holiday party, next to the venue, so prepare accordingly.

You can still cut costs if you want to by asking employees to bring their own dishes to share. Assign each department or name group with different categories of food so no one brings too much of the same thing.

Alternatively, if you were hoping to spend lavishly on the menu, you're guaranteed to find chefs and caterers eager to work with local and in-season produce and ingredients only. Work with them to figure out food platters or dishes your employees will find delicious, and mind any allergies! You can also purchase beverages from local wine and craft brewers if you want some libations.

Finally, don't forget the dishes. The easiest way to ensure you're being eco-friendly is to purchase bio-degradable plates, utensils, and cups, preferably made from plant ingredients. Otherwise, use real serveware -- yes, it will require washing, but it will reduce your party's waste immensely.

 Eco-Friendly Company Holiday Party: The Food

Photo from Christopher Chan via photopin cc

Activities/Games --

We could talk for a long time about company holiday party games, because there are lots of them out there.

However, the best rule of thumb when you're planning games and activities for your eco-friendly company holiday party is this: anything goes as long as it's not wasteful or hurtful to the environment. That means ditching the gift-wrapping-with-mittens-on game (unless you bought recycled gift wrap, that is).

But don't worry - just poke around online for a while and you'll find plenty of other suitable game and activity options, like these:

-- Consider asking employees to bring their favorite board games from home to play with their co-workers.
-- Do something outside like horseback riding or lawn games
-- If you hire any entertainment companies for your party, ask them if they're eco-friendly or if they could try to accommodate this request.

 Eco-Friendly Company Holiday Party: Activities/Games

Photo from Mike_fleming via Compfight cc

Gifts & Prizes --

One of the biggest complaints from eco-friendly people is how consumerism is affecting the environment.

Much like the rule for picking games and activities, realize that buying brand-new items may not be necessary for your employees. at your company holiday party. You need to do this the right way, though, or some of  them will think you're trying to cheat them out of a nice gift.

For example, you could ask employees to wrap used items from home they think someone else needs or would appreciate. You could then perform a more useful version of a white elephant gift exchange. If you want to make it a little more fun, your employees can bring the crappy items they don't want instead, because you never know when one person's trash will be another one's treasure.

Also, if you're planning to give away gifts or prizes from corporate, look into items that are natural, eco-friendly, and safe to produce/use, such as:

-- Young flowers and trees that employees can plant
-- Natural products like an eco-friendly spa set
--  Gift cards to eco-friendly stores
-- Hand-made food or household items (like infused olive oils and vinegars)
-- Etc.

 Eco-Friendly Company Holiday Party: Gifts & Prizes

Photo from Canadian Veggie via Compfight cc

Decor --

Finally, don't forget to make your company holiday party look incredible while also being sustainable.

Eco-friendly parties are a shoe-in for rustic holiday themes. You can use real pine branches, poinsettias, and pinecones to give the party a natural vibe, and used mason jars would work perfectly for candle holders. A real tree is the way to go, too, unless you plan to re-use a plastic one year after year.

If you want to stay a bit more traditional, definitely re-use any products you possibly can from last year, like Christmas lights. Don't buy new if you can help it, and instead ask employees to bring in decor items from home to help keep things eco-friendly. However, if you must buy new, look for sustainable and/or green products. Christmas lights, for example, are easy to find now as LEDs which take up far less energy than traditional lights.

And if you have the time, consider making any decorations. For example, could these Christmas trees made out of newspaper and old book pages be any more adorable?

 Eco-Friendly Company Holiday Party: The Decor

Photo from Lovely Indeed for The Sweetest Occasion

Your Turn...

Sometimes, people think "going green" sounds boring or even a bit uppity. However, with a little extra planning and work on your part, an eco-friendly company holiday party can be far more fun and enjoyable than anyone could have imagined.

What's your favorite eco-friendly party idea we have listed here that you hope to use at yours this winter?