Creative and Clever Ways to Throw a Smashing Eco-Chic Party Entertaining is a theatrical experience that should dazzle the senses. The experience should be clever and well thought out, no matter what your budget. Here are a few sustainable tips to get your next shin dig off the ground. Go one step further and send out a digital invite instead – eliminating paper all together.
Get off on the right foot - First thing’s first: the invites. Make sure you use invites made from recycled paper. Contrary to ecologically-challenged perceptions, recycled paper can look and feel just like high grade paper, but minus the guilty conscience. If ordering them from a professional, ask whether they use recycled paper.
Centerpieces – Gone are the days of deplorable fake flowers you could spot a mile away – usually collecting dust in some over-crowded knick-knack filled nook and cranny in your grandmother’s house. These days, if you know where to look, fake flowers can pass for the real thing.
Aside from standard silk flowers (which are still using silk worms), there’s the option of clay flowers. Deco Clay flowers are absolutely gorgeous and look just like the real thing – except that they cost a fraction of the price, are environmentally safe, and last forever.
The even better upside is they’re reusable so you’ll save money in the long run, plus you’re not contributing to flower butchery nor the very unsustainable flower industry, which has to shower flowers with pesticides – a factor that’s damaging to both you and the environment.
However, if faux is not your thing, then get flowers from the local farmers market. You can even get great arrangements and settings out of potted plants and flowers. A personal favorite is the clever use of moss as decorative center pieces. Moss is not only cheap, sustainable, and uber chic, but it can also be planted afterwards with next to no effort.
I have to admit, as a natural food enthusiast, Halloween and the entire holiday season ( Thanksgiving, Christmas ) really puts me in quite a quandary. On one hand, I love the mild madness that ensues around this time of year. The costumes, the parties, the creativity, the (idea of) candyland-come-true . . . clearly there’s some serious residual little-kid excitement in full force here. The irony is that much of what Holidays is about (conventional candy . . . and lots of it) is basically my nemesis. It’s not a matter of fun-size package denial, it’s a matter of reality: hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup, red #5, or any ingredient made in a labcoat for that matter, generally equates to things humans should not consume.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not here to pull a scrooge moment. I understand this isn’t the time of year to tout the benefits of things like toothbrushes, raisins, or a nice apple. But don’t you worry; I’ve got plans for us. Better plans. Plans like, ahem, chocolate hazelnut plans. And while these chocolate hazelnut plans may still totally reside in the treat category (aka – don’t eat the whole recipe in one serving . . . everyday), this dessert is billions of times more beneficial than traditional holiday candy fare. Aside from using clean natural ingredients, it’s full of superfoods too. Raw cacao powder lends its copious antioxidant content and abundant minerals, and the chocolate coating utilizes the natural sweetness of mesquite powder (the milled mesquite pods from a low-lying South American shrub) making the exterior especially low in sugars. I’ve even snuck a little bit of optional adrenal-supporting maca powder into the filling of these candies, perhaps as a preemptive healthy strike against any conventional sugary “incidents.”
This dessert is billions of times more beneficial than traditional holiday candy fare.
Needless to say, these candies are an all-around “yes.” The exterior chocolate coating will remain solid at room temperature, and the inside pocket is a soft, sweet blend of cacao and hazelnuts. You can use ice cube trays for as molds for these, or get fancified and use real-deal candy molds with deep vessels to properly contain the filling. If using candy molds, double the amount of chocolate coating that the recipe calls for (the filling will remain the same). Short on time? Simply melt down a dark chocolate bar and use as the exterior coating instead of the raw chocolate recipe below.
Thanksgiving is just a few weeks away and this year we have a few green additions to our family. With my newly turned eco leaf and with one of our family members going vegetarian, this year Thanksgiving presents a whole new set of challenges.
But the idea of a green or even a vegetarian Thanksgiving seems like blasphemy to die hard turkey stuffers. To ease them into what will inevitably be a culture shock, I already started dropping the idea of a green feast that goes beyond just an organic turkey. When asked how they’d “green” their Thanksgiving, I got all sorts of responses from “add more plants to the dinner table” to “use green dye on the turkey”.
If we’re to be literalists, then I’d rather go cold turkey than sit across the table from a green turkey. There two options for ‘greening’ your thanksgiving: 1) by local turkeys 2) homestead/raise your own turkeys 3) go vegetarian.
Most people are immediately turned off when thinking of vegetarian alternatives to traditional meat dishes.
Rethinking the Main Course
A growing number of Americans are trying homesteading. In addition to healthier, steroid free livestock, you have done your part to substantially reduce your carbon footprint. Furthermore, you’ve reaffirmed a commitment to sustainable living and are likely to reap government benefits. A number of states allow homestead exemption to owners of principal, full-time residences. (see Office of Tax and Revenue) Continue Reading / See Additional Photos
Don’t be jealous! Ever since I watched a green-haired Todd Oldham on “House of Style” back in the nineties, I knew that I had to get crafty with him one day. So, with Valentine’s Day around the corner, Todd and I got together at his downtown NYC studio to show you how to make some heart-shaped gifts that come from the heart. We both agree that this holiday is all about affordable, DIY craftiness.
From his features in ReadyMade & Dwell, to crafting Amy Sedaris’ interactive vaginal diagram on the Chelsea Lately Show, and with a line of vases for FTD, a classic menswear-inspired carpet collection, and design book series called Place Space, Todd is a royal of the creative world. To top that, he is a photographer, filmmaker, interior designer, fashion designer, and can see through walls …well, maybe not the last part.
Hunting down a gazillion different organic ingredients at the market and slaving away in a hot kitchen all day might be some people’s idea of a great time, and all part of the familiar ritual of the big holiday dinner – but for most of us, we’d rather just enjoy our food and the company of our family without the fuss. Quite frankly, the idea of spending the entire day in the kitchen whipping up 10 different recipes bores me. If you don’t even trust yourself with a kitchen knife, or you’re just a lazy cook like me, the best idea is to order your meal from a local organic restaurant. That is if you are lucky enough to live near one. If you are in L.A. or NYC, you are indeed in luck. If you have a Whole Foods Market near you, you can also order an organic holiday meal from their catering menu. Continue Reading / See Additional Photos
While most people go into hibernation mode during winter, wanting nothing more than to curl up around a fire with hot coco, there are those of us who start going slightly delirious at the thought of being caged in for the next few months. However, unless you’re in the Arctic, there’s no reason why you have to induce self imprisonment during the season. With a mix of both creative and practical thinking, you can have just as much of a ball during winter as you have during summers by bringing the outdoors in.
And even though we’re penny pinching these days, we can still have a fabulous get together – and with the slightest bit of effort and inventive spirit, we can host a splendid evening boasts of eco-chic brilliance. When thinking of winter, my first thoughts escape straight to a “Winter Wonderland” theme and with a slight obsession for eco-friendly entertaining, I’ve been able to source some charming ideas.
One of the great things about winter is that you can get really creative and free-spirited with the décor. (During what other season would you get away with bringing trees indoors and the decking them with magpie-envying pieces?) When you think of “wonderland”, think odd, magical and strange. Think Alice in Wonderland meets the Snow Queen, where everything is just slightly off the wall, creative and wonderfully mad – with a rich frosty touch. Continue Reading / See Additional Photos
The holidays aren’t just about family squabbles, appalling television, overeating and getting drunk.There’s a lot more to it. How about deforestation, gas guzzling, waste and general excessiveness?
First, there’s the whole greeting card burden. I say burden because they’re as painful to send as they are to receive. How many cards are made from recycled paper? Worse yet, how many card and envelopes actually end up in the recycle bin after the holidays? Truth be told, no-one wants to see the annual photo of you and your loved ones in front of the fireplace in matching sweaters, so here’s an alternative: send a holiday e-mail. You can design a nice graphic or find one online. It saves paper and it’ll save you time.
Then there’s the Christmas tree. Since when has ripping a live evergreen from the ground and sticking it in your living room for a month been a good idea? Equally careless is buying a fake tree made of toxic PVC, guaranteed to be around for thousands of Christmases to come. Actor Josh Lucas has the answer, according to Ecorazzi: an organically recycled plastic tree. (I must confess to not knowing what that is exactly, but seems worth investigating.)