Tips For Hosting A Fun Yet Low-Waste Party

by Texas Homesteader ~ 

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You say you’re hosting a party for family and friends but hate all the waste you know it will produce? Well worry not, there are easy ways to host a low-waste party.

My family gathers here at the Homestead every year to celebrate something we’ve named ‘RanchFest’. It’s held on the anniversary of the date RancherMan & I purchased our little piece of NE Texas paradise. But in our family we all consider it our own little family reunion.

I’ve found there are a few things to remember that are easy to implement and it makes a HUGE difference in the amount of trash our gathering ends up producing. Maybe you can use some of these tips at your own gathering too.

Easy tips to throw a low-waste or zero-waste party for cheap. #TexasHomesteader

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Real Plates & Flatware

Everyone in my family knows how crunchy I am and they’re not surprised at all about any steps I take to reduce waste.

But even though my family members realize I have a strong eco-bend, sometimes they’re still kinda surprised that I’d rather put out (and wash) regular plates for a larger gathering than to use something disposable that they might be considered more convenient.

More convenient?? Truly here’s how much effort I’m faced with to use our existing household plates:

Scrape plates, load into dishwasher, push button.

Now I realize that if you have to hand-wash your dishes you may feel differently. But for me there’s really just no downside to just use our own household plates and flatware – we can reuse them over & over again for years instead of buying something disposable. It’s the simplest way to stand by my eco-friendly convictions.

Reusable Party Dining Ware

Some people are uncomfortable using their household plates and utensils in this manner. Maybe their dishes are more fragile, they’re sentimental or maybe a little expensive. There’s an easy fix for that too.

I’ve read that many people like to go to thrift stores and buy lightweight plates and flatware specifically for use at their parties.

Low-waste party ideas - buy inexpensive reusable dishes at a thrift store. #TexasHomesteader

The benefit is that you stand less chance with breaking your own plates or losing your own flatware. Those dishes are simply washed and stored in tubs along with other party items to be used again next time.

It’s still a good, green, more eco-friendly option than purchasing disposable dining items just to throw them away and buy them again & again.

Plus if you’re Buying Those Things Used at a charitable thrift store you’ve made double use out of your money since your purchase also helps fund a charitable cause you believe in.

For me, I just use my plain ole everyday plates. They’re *Corelle Plates and they’re dang near indestructible.

Heck some of my plates were given to me as gifts at my high school graduation. (Let’s just say that was a looooong time ago!) And they’ve survived heavy use while raising all four kids too.

Low-waste party ideas - real reusable plates, flatware and cloth napkins. #TexasHomesteader

Eco-Friendly Disposable Plates/Flatware

Occasionally though I’ll have need for more plates than I own, additional plates for desserts for instance. In this case my baby sis always brings heavy *Non-Coated Paper Plates.

When I’m cleaning kitchen I’ll make sure my metal flatware is put in the sink and then toss any used paper plates along with any uneaten food into a properly labeled ‘compostable materials’ bucket that I’ve sat out for this gathering.

Low-waste party idea - separate containers for compostable materials, recyclable materials and trash. #TexasHomesteader

That bucket of compostable items will be emptied into my tumbling composter after our party is over. A little water from one of my Rainwater Catchment Systems is poured into the bucket, a little swish to rinse and then the water is also poured into the composter as well. A quick turn of the tumbler and I walk away. Simple.

Compostable Flatware Option

If there will be many littles in attendance where I’m not quite guaranteed to get my good flatware back, I’ve been known to use these *compostable bamboo utensils instead.

Low-waste party dining idea - compostable bamboo spoons, forks and knives - utensils. #TexasHomesteader

Using ‘disposable’ Bamboo Utensils is a great option for outside parties, offsite picnics and such. At our party the used utensils will also be dropped into the bucket labeled ‘compostables’ as well.

I’ve been pretty impressed how quickly those bamboo utensils decompose.

Low-waste party idea - compostable plates and utensils. #TexasHomesteader


During our family reunion party, RancherMan set up 4 empty large cattle supplement tubs with a large paper label on each one:


We’ll make sure each recyclable material gets to a recycling facility when we’re in a nearby town.

Heck the metal recyclables even net us a little cold, hard cash! The compostable items will of course get dumped into my *Tumbling Composter.

Low waste party idea - all compostable items dumped into a compost tumbler. #TexasHomesteader

And finally what little trash is present will be disposed of properly. That trash bucket is usually the emptiest one of all since almost all materials have already been separated out.

No Waste Fun & Games

Our country-style family reunion always includes a competition game of some sort. We oftentimes hold a *Cornhole Game tournament. We even made our own Personalized Cornhole Boards with a funny image custom-painted on it. (Potty humor of a small child? Yes, but still fun!)

A low-waste party game option - custom-made cornhole game and denim bags. #TexasHomesteader

Other times we’ve had scavenger hunts, golf drive competitions and relay races. One year we had a cow-shaped piñata that held a sealed note about the prize but the piñata itself was filled with… yes – dried manure!

Other piñatas were made right here by turning a paper feed sack inside out and drawing an image on the blank side of the bag. What did we draw? A huge poop emoticon. (see previous note about our odd humor at these gatherings) LOL

Since the piñata’s were made of paper they were either placed in the composter or just tossed into the bonfire at the end of the evening.

Waste-Free Hayride

After we’ve eaten our fill and played our competitive game we often pile everyone into a flatbed trailer pulled by the tractor and take our party attendees on a hayride. The kids especially love this time.

Throwing a low-waste party - hayride for the kids #TexasHomesteader

RancherMan drives the tractor around the property to point out areas of interest since last year’s celebration. The adults love seeing the beautiful scenery too.

We used to buy bales of hay or straw to use for the hayride. We made sure to use any hay to feed our animals, and straw for garden mulch purposes. But now our hayride’s even lower waste.

We pile clean but spent hay from around a dormant hay ring thickly on the floor of our flatbed trailer floor. It provides cushion for the ride and after the hayride we park the trailer near the bonfire area. So it’s a nice soft area for many to lounge in the soft hay as they enjoy the bonfire.

After our party we simply sweep the hay out right onto the ground. It’s an all-natural material that will degrade over time, enriching the earth below. Plus it’s zero waste and free.

Bonfire Caps Off The Evening

For the bonfire we’ve piled high all the tree trimmings accumulated over the past year. Before our party we use the tractor to compress the pile and then we mow the grass around it very short.

Finally we place several large 250-lb tubs filled with water around the exterior of the area. It’s used for fire safety – we want to have water handy. (we have fire extinguishers as well) We’ve never had to use either to control any portion of the bonfire. But better safe than sorry!

I’ve also placed a call to our local volunteer fire department as well as the county sheriff’s dept to let them know we will be having a bonfire that night. And I notify our closest neighbors. That’s just so they’ll be aware should anyone drive by and see fire in our pasture.

Bonfire at family gathering #TexasHomesteader

Water-Gun Fights

However the grandkids have a different purpose for those huge tubs of water. Although we have several lightweight *Water Cannon Toys, they know to bring their own mega-type water guns too.

They excitedly grab their water guns and fill ’em up from those tubs and have a good old-fashioned water gun fight with their siblings & cousins. It’s probably the highlight of their celebration and the adults often join into the water play as well. It’s a fun way to cap off the evening and enjoy each other’s company.

So there ya have it. The only waste we’ve ended up with is a tiny amount of non-recyclable, non-compostable trash that partygoers may have brought along with them. Everything else is reusable, repurposed, recycled or composted.

Even if you’re not having a party in a country setting where you’ll be able to offer hayrides and bonfires, hopefully you’ve gathered some helpful low-waste party tips for your own parties.

Anything from reusable dinnerware, low-waste game options or repurposing/recycling/composting ideas.

So sit back & enjoy your time together!


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4 thoughts on “Tips For Hosting A Fun Yet Low-Waste Party

  1. candace ford

    Pre Corona Virus we always hosted holiday dinners at Christmas and Thanksgiving and what we call Easter Saturday (held the day before Easter so that church goers had their Sunday free. People brought food but I always cooked the main things. Since I have two large and beautiful sets of inherited china and 3 large sets of sterling silverware I like to use them when we have company. At the end of the day I filled a big plastic bucket with soapy water and all the silverware went into that to soak and I filled a plastic tote the same and just stacked the dishes in it. Then we could all sit around and visit and let our dinners settle. After the guests left It all stayed where it was and the next AM I pretty much only needed to rinse things let them dry and put them away. Holidays have been lonely since corona virus but vaccinations are happening!

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      I like your way of being able to clean the dishes while still having the time to visit with your guests. And all zero-waste too! Good job, Candace! ~TxH~

      1. candace ford

        This is not the post that I had wanted to leave this comment on but I couldn’t re find the estate planning post.
        Some years ago I read an article in an AARP magazine regarding similar suggestions. One was that folks should have a folder or manila envelope containing copies of important documents, lists of important phone numbers and so on – that folder should be handy to an exit so that in case of a necessary and rapid evacuation one could just grab it on the way out. Wild fires are always a worry out here in western Oregon.

        1. Texas Homesteader Post author

          That post is –> – thank you for adding your findings about this important matter, Candace. My eyes were opened for sure when we suddenly lost my brother in his upper 50’s. He wasn’t expecting death to come so soon and his children struggled to find the tiniest bit of information after his passing. ~TxH~


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