Boy, planning a party for about 125 people to celebrate my eldest son’s bar mitzvah is a delight, but also somewhat stressful. As host, I want to inspire generous fun but I also want to stay reasonably green, a steward of the planet.
Plates made of recycled paper, cutlery that can be reused and washed, free-range chicken cutlets instead of the meat of a bird that’s been confined its whole life–these things sound great. But in reality, free-range chicken causes the chicken bill to rise 33 percent. What would you do?
Then the recycled paper plate company charges more for its products. I’m willing to take the hit on that. Can I deprive the bar mitzvah boy of the neon blinking magnets he so desperately wants? They serve as cute little strobe lights on the dance floor when pinned to a shirt collar or lapel. (Click on that link, it’s an environmentalist’s worst nightmare, you’ll be disgusted.). No doubt the few lights we’ve purchased will soon be sitting in a landfill, so perhaps this becomes a great “teaching moment” for us on waste and global warming.
Coca-cola. Not an issue for some, but a huge one for me. Why serve kids something containing caffeine and the worst kind of corn syrup when it will just get them all hopped up? Is Coke something you really want your kids to associate with any festive celebration? Does Coke “make” the party?
Then diet colas, aaargh! Do I have to serve them? The jury is still out on the health consequences of regularly ingesting artificial sweeteners. So I told the caterer I’d serve domestically manufactured seltzer (having cut the imported mineral waters) to the people who drink diet soda, and that Diet Coke should not be purchased. Then, when reviewing plans with my older sister, she said, “Oh Amy, you’ve got to serve Diet Coke! A lot of women expect it.”
“Well, they should stop expecting it,” said I, “I think it’s bad for them. I’ll serve them seltzer with a splash of pomegranate juice and slice of lime.”
“You HAVE to make your guests comfortable. You’re not in the business of teaching people lessons here.”
It’s so miraculous how the older sister fills the high heels of the matriarch now that Mom is dead.
I am serving bio-dynamic organic wines. I’m taking my stand for the vineyard workers (who suffer all manner of health problems from the chemicals sprayed in conventional vineyards). Bio-dynamic wines can be harder to find, but they are not that much more expensive, and to me, they have a spiritual dimension since the vineyards are planted on a lunar schedule. Read about them in the link above. These wines are really remarkable.
If I were a vegan or a vegetarian, I’m imagining the menu planning stress might be even greater. I’ve got to assemble a menu that will first, please the bar mitzvah boy (since it is his party), and then allow for plenty of vegetarian selections. But I will serve meat.
I would delight in hearing from you regarding any of these choices. When entertaining others, where do you draw your lines? And when do you chuck your soapbox?