No matter what holiday you celebrate this season, you are likely to end up with a cast of characters you love and couldn’t imagine celebrating without. At least one of those will probably need some extra consideration! In my family, that is my sister. She is a certified zero-waste vegan, and she will want to know that this holiday meal is an experience in mindfulness. All I want to do is make sure the house isn’t destroyed or burned down – “mindfully,” of course.
Here are a few tips for helping your most finicky or eco-conscious houseguest feel right at home this holiday season.
Use your favorite dishware, flatware and linens
There are times and places for recyclable decorations and dishes. Kids’ birthday parties are great for bright-colored pink and green forks and spoons that you can recycle or wash and eco-friendly napkins (we like Caboo).
But for occasions that don’t involve juice boxes and birthday cake, open up your cabinet and bring out the pretty china or formal dishes that you rarely use, flatware that you save for special occasions, and table linens you picked out so long ago.
Tips & Tricks:
- Make sure you wash, rinse and dry everything well before use. Your glasses and dishes are probably at least a little dusty. We like our own Rebel Green Super Deluxe Dish Soap in our signature Frankincense & Pine holiday scent.
- Before you lay your linens on the table, spritz them a few times with Rebel Green Peppermint & Lemon Fresh Linen Spray to shoo away that touch of musty, “I was stored in a drawer too long but shouldn’t have been” scent.
- After the meal, grab the wine-spotted tablecloth and cloth napkins smudged with your mom’s pretty shade of lipstick (that’s also smooched on your cheek), and pre-treat those stains with Rebel Green USDA-certified organic Fresh Laundry Detergent (we especially like Lavender & Grapefruit). After giving it a chance to sit for 30 minutes, toss everything in the wash and line dry.
Offer vegan or meat-free alternatives
I’ll be honest; as a non-preachy vegetarian, I sometimes find it really tricky not to worry or offend the host by picking at my plate or not eating much. To avoid this awkwardness, try to remember what everyone like and dislikes, allergies and general food habits, and plan your menu accordingly.
Tips & Tricks:
- Avoid the anxiety and guilt by offering something for picky eaters or vegan guests at your holiday meal. There are so many options. I especially like this meat-free Roasted Vegetable Lasagna from the Barefoot Contessa.
- Allow your guests to bring something as a side dish. I will always make a salad with some protein and color. Your “selective eater” can make your yummy and pretty salad the main attraction. By adding their own side dish (and hopefully a few others) to their plate, they are going to have a great meal and feel really welcome at your table.
Have as good a time as your guests
Nothing makes a houseguest feel better than when the host is relaxed and having fun. Your friends and family have come over to celebrate with you, not to watch you clean and fret. So have a glass of wine, sit down and appreciate what’s in front of you (not the insanity of dirty dishes, spots and spills).
Tips & Tricks:
- If you use a dishwasher, start it with all of your prep stuff before anyone comes over. Then you’ll have nothing to add to the washer when it’s time to clean up. To be honest, I’ll even sneak away for 5 minutes between appetizers and dinner to secretly throw in one load of glasses and dishes if nobody is looking.
- Be ready to send the leftovers home with all of the guests. When the meal is over, store leftovers in hip to-go containers and refrigerate. You won’t be left with extra food that goes to waste, and your guests will leave with something really delicious for lunch the next day. (Or in the middle of the night with a fork. Or secretly and in pajamas, if it’s chocolate. Don’t judge.)
— Ali Florsheim