10 Ideas for "Green" Get-Togethers

Earth Day-inspired parties to spread the eco-friendliness around

Good times that are good for the planet? Yes, please! This month’s Earth Day on April 22 has us excited to take action and show our concern for the environment by emphasizing a healthy, sustainable lifestyle. There are plenty of simple ways to share environmental awareness with family, friends, and neighbors, like cleaning up the block, supporting local farmers, and finding ways to reuse and recycle what you would ordinarily toss in the trash.


Cookware Swap

You’ve heard of a clothing swap, but this time it’s cleaning out the kitchen cabinets instead of the closet. That pasta maker that's collecting dust may be perfect for an Italian food-fanatic friend. Whatever cookware is left over, the host can donate after the party.

A swap can be action-packed, so bite-sized apps work best. Serve a few dips like this Lemon-Mint Hummus and Simple Tzatziki with pita bread. Meat on a stick is pretty portable, and this Chicken Satay with Spicy Thai Peanut Sauce goes perfectly with a brightly colored Gin Kimchi Cocktail. (Photo courtesy of Stockxchng/Jazzndre)


Meatless Monday Dinner Party

Meatless Mondays have been a great way to promote sustainable eating, so sharing it with friends ups everyone’s carbon offsets. A truly elegant vegetarian feast won’t leave anyone pining for beef or thinking of tie-dye and patchouli oil.

Kick off the party with Mini Corn and Leek Flautas and Champagne Margaritas. Once everyone’s seated, ladle out this Butternut Squash Soup with Chickpeas and then serve a platter of Broiled Tofu with a Spicy Mango Sauce and a side of brown rice. Pass bowls of a Beet and Blood Orange Salad and a zesty White Carrot Salad around the table so everyone can serve themselves.


Herb Potting Party

This party takes a little planning. First stop: The plant store to pick up a range of herbs, soil, and small potting pebbles — plan on three plants per person. Next, tell the guests to bring their own clay pots. Find a big bucket or something to hold the soil and some large spoons. Whether you’re inside or outside, it may make sense to put the herbs and bucket of soil on a table with newspaper underneath (that you can recycle). Then people can gather around to pot their herbs.

In keeping with the theme, use some fresh herbs to make a homemade salsa and serve with an assortment of chips. Fresh Tomato Bruschetta and Goat Cheese with Honey are also good warm-weather complements to this equally refreshing Winthrop Gimlet Cocktail. (Photo courtesy of iStock/BlueMoonStudioInc)


Curb-Cleanup Neighborhood Party

It’s like a block party but with an emphasis on greening things up with your eco-friendliest neighbors. Cleaning up the litter around the block is not exactly the most fun activity, but everyone will feel proud of their efforts afterwards. Arm the troops with some latex gloves and large trash and recycling bags, but first fortify them with Rum Fix Cocktails to get them in the fix-it mood.

Keep the community spirit going with a light group meal. Ahead of time, put together all the fixings for Jennie's Fish Tacos . Once the cleaning is done, everyone can assemble their own taco, served with ice-cold Mexican beer like Corona or Dos Equis. End on a sweet note — treat guests to some luscious brownies.

Berry-Picking Party at an Orchard

In some places, berry season starts as early as March. Many berry picking farms like Shelburne Farm in Stow, Mass., or Sweet Berry Farm near Austin, Texas, have picnic tables and facilities, so after the party is picked out, guests can sit down for the delicious spread you cleverly brought along. It gets sunny out there so have sun hats and sunblock on hand.

Pack up some classic picnic dishes like fried chicken along with creative sides like a Red Quinoa Salad and a Panzanella Salad with Spicy Anchovy Vinaigrette. Wash off the freshly-picked berries for dessert. (Photo courtesy of Stockxchng/anitasweb)


Homemade Playdough Play Date

Young children can get in on the Earth Day fun, too, and experience playtime without extra packaging and waste. A playdate for a few kindergarteners becomes environmentally conscious with a variety of multi-colored balls of homemade playdough. Give them some kitchen utensils like a garlic press, potato masher, or ricer. (Later, soak them in hot, soapy water to get any dried playdough off).

These edible crafts let kids play with their food for once. Blend some fruit smoothies that taste just like a milkshake, only much healthier. Check out some more of our fun playdate recipe ideas.


Leftovers Potluck Party

Like a leftovers version of Iron Chef, this type of party requires some thinking on your toes. Each guest brings one dish of leftovers — whatever they happen to have at the time — and together the party must create all-new dishes from them. Copy down the new recipes to email them to guests later.

Pull together some classic cocktails like a Caipirinha and Pimm’s Cup to get the action started. Beforehand, read our Leftovers Guide: How Long Can You Keep It? (Photo courtesy of Stockxchng/TheHave)


Homemade Beauty Products Makeover Party

A girls’ night in is a way to connect with friends, save a few bucks, and learn some new beauty tricks. Having an arsenal of beauty products requires only a cupboard stocked full of items like avocados, oatmeal, yogurt, lemons, and, yes, beer (makes hair shiny). Get homemade beauty product recipes from PlanetGreen.com.

Go as girly as you want with cocktails like the Lei Maker or Tea Rose Martini. A menu of light and healthy snacks feels right. Serve Salmon Sliders with Curry Remoulade, spicy Popcorn with Sriracha Butter and Parmesan, veggies with Svelte Green Goddess Dip, and some Sexy Low-Fat Cupcakes with Fresh Berries.


Bike Ride Brunch

For an all-ages bonding experience sans carbon footprint, plan a group bike ride followed by brunch back at the homestead. MapMyRide.com lets you create a route map that can be emailed to invitees. A leisurely five to seven-mile ride will take about 45 minutes to an hour so the group should meet at a starting point early in the morning. Riders will be ready to chow down afterward so assembling brunch ahead of time is key.

Before the ride, make a large fruit salad and set up the slow cooker for Irish Oatmeal so there's food ready to serve as soon as you return. Also before the ride, fry up some bacon and assemble the components for Baked Eggs with Spinach and Tomato. Then all you have to do is crack the eggs into the casserole dish and pop in the oven for 10-15 minutes. Mix up some classic Bloody Marys or creative Blood Orange Mimosas to go along with the feast. (Photo courtesy of Stockxchng/evobrained)


Farmers Market Barbecue

The idea here is to support local produce and products as a group. Each guest brings something from a farmers market that can be grilled, like sausages, fish, asparagus, zucchini, even watermelon. To prep, fire up the grill — it’s as simple as that.

It might be a good idea to have some olive oil or melted butter and a brush at the ready for easy basting. For cocktails, see what’s in season and available at the market, but two ideas are the Rhubarbarella Cocktail and the Black ‘n’ Stormy with early summer fruits.

Click here for all of our Earth Day coverage.

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