After I shared my birthday celebrations, I got many many requests asking to share my best tips for organizing a dinner party with Vegan food (for meat eaters) and based on some Zero Waste concepts, trying to be as sustainable as possible.
In fact, I wanted to use my birthday party to gather family and friends and show them anyone can enjoy a party cooked with plants only and decorated without any waste.
So here’s a few steps of what I did to incorporate these two concepts in this party, making sure everyone had the best time possible:
1-2 WEEKS BEFORE:
Send out the invitations!
No, no one needs paper invitations anymore (unless it’s for a wedding, right?) , so go ahead and create a Whatsapp group. Write all the details there and let your guests know your address, time, dress-code and anything they need to take.
Also tell them that they are free to leave the group if they can’t attend and remember to delete the group after the party has finished (and all the photos were shared!)
1 WEEK BEFORE:
Decoration | Work with Nature!
Who said you have to have balloons and confetti anyways? If you’re planning a party for kids, take this chance to explain them why you’re not using any of these, they will understand what’s best for Mother Nature 🙂 and you can both have fun making natural, waste free decorations like fabric garlands.
Go to the closest park and pick beautiful tree branches and shop at your local florist for nice flowers and greenery. Usually the cheapest are the ones in season, so I go for those.
Candles and string lights are always a hit. If you don’t have enough candle holders, use what you have at home, choose from coffee cups to mason jars or tiny plates.
Use scraps of paper or big leaves from the park to write a personalized message or the name of each guest (this works well for seated meals), and they can take it home as a souvenir.
If you’re cooking with herbs or beautiful veggies/fruits, buy extra and use them in your decoration (can you imagine a Mexican theme with some peppers, tomatoes and cilantro on the table? Or a Fall gathering with small pumpkins and rosemary sprigs?) Just keep them in the fridge afterwards and cook throughout the week.
Plates, glasses and cutlery
Use the real deal and refuse the disposable options.
You’ll see your guests respect much more a “real” plate/glass and will stick to it throughout the whole dinner party, instead of ditching several between appetizers and mains.
If you don’t have enough for your guests, don’t worry about them not matching, try asking them to bring some extra plates or glasses or kindly ask a neighbour to lend you some. Don’t forget to offer a slice of cake when you give them back 🙂
I made about 50 napkins out of a 1-square-meter cotton fabric that I cut and dyed in onion skins. It turned out a pale pink that goes well with everything and that I’ve been using for three years now.
Give one to each person and make sure you let them know it is the only one they have for the rest of the night 🙂
Plan your Menu!
I always tend to choose towards a country when planning my menu, as I like to cook different dishes and surprise my guests. I may take inspiration from my favourite books, magazines or blogs and build my menu from that.
My main concern, however, is always to cook with what’s in season. For instance, if I’ll cook a curry in Winter I may add root vegetables and cabbage, but if I cook it in the Summer I’ll probably use asparagus, zucchini or eggplants.
This decision is always a great tip for low budgets, and the most delicious way to make the best of the best produce. By choosing the products at their peak, you get not only the best flavour, but the highest concentrations of nutrients and vitamins. Win win!
Going Plant Based
If you’re choosing to cook plantbased for a group of “meat eaters”, they can be picky so remember to cook dishes that resemble the textures or flavours that they know. Having a vegan cheese board is an idea, also using mushrooms because of their meaty texture or cooking with smoked paprika, thyme or rosemary as they are used in conventional cooking very often.
Try to have at least two dishes rich in veggies and one rich in protein, like legumes/pulses. Salads and little side dishes that complement the others are always a safe choice.
1 DAY BEFORE / THE DAY OF
Do your Shopping
Choose the best places to do your shopping according to what you need and make sure you hit a good market with a selection of bulk items to minimize plastics and packaged items.
I usually buy everything from my favourite organic supermarket – for fresh produce and groceries in bulk I take cotton cloth bags – and what they don’t sell I go to a more specialized seller.
Decorate with Love
You can decorate the day before and leave the table ready, flower/greenery arrangements done, candles set on their places, etc.
Remember, simplicity goes a long way – most of all you want your guests to enjoy their time with you so you don’t need to have everything perfect or like on Pinterest – this is real life and your decoration should always reflect you and your home!
Use what you have and decorate with all your heart and it will show.
Cook with Intention
Save some time in the kitchen by cooking ahead soups and stews (like my chilli sin carne, that’s even better the day after, so make it the day before!) and cook on the day all the dishes that are better freshly made.
Food nourishes both your body and your energy, so be effectively present when you cook and put out good energies and love vibrations as you cook for your loved ones. Enjoy that time, put music on, dance, taste as you go, have fun in and with the process!
WHAT I’VE MADE
This year, I’ve decided to gather family and friends on separate days, so I made two menus that I’m gonna share with you for pure inspiration:
DAY 1 | THAI INSPIRED | 8 people
Thai Green Curry with zuchinni, broccoli and mushrooms
Roasted Cauliflower Rice
Spiced Sweet Potato Wedges
Cucumber Peanut Slaw
Lime & Yogurt Sauce
Extra coriander for sprinkling
Extra roasted peanuts for sprinkling
Drinks: Water, Red Wine
DAY 2 | MEXICAN FIESTA | 12 people
Chilli sin Carne
Cumin Spiced Rice
Warmed Tortillas for Tacos
Vegan Cashew Queso sauce
Pico de Gallo
Red Onion Pickles
Drinks: Water, Kombucha, Beer, Mojito jars to share, Red Wine
I kindly asked my friends to bring their own drinks and also offered kombucha and mojitos. This worked really well!
I really do hope this post was useful and that you step out of your comfort zone and throw a party that reflects your values and beliefs!
Share the plant-based love and make less impact, every single day!