Conscious celebrations

Nicola Turner Behaviour Changer

Celebrations are a wonderful part of being human. They bring us together, connect us, and offer a chance for reflection in the busyness of life. As Joanne Harris so eloquently wrote – “Life is what you celebrate.” But I’ve realised that celebrations don’t have to be about elaborate parties, excess and hyper consumption. In fact simplifying celebrations can be better for both our own wellbeing and the wellbeing of the planet. It’s not about going without, it’s about being more conscious of our choices and opening our minds to alternatives.

Here are a few of the things I do when I’m planning a celebration:

  • Connect with why: Celebrations are all about bringing people together. I find keeping that at the front of my mind helps calm me and stops me getting carried away with buying lots of stuff that I don’t really need.
  • Food: I create a menu based on what is available locally and in season to save on food miles and excess packaging. I make a list of the food needed and stick to it! It saves me from getting carried away and buying more than I need which may end up going to waste.
    Often guests want to bring something and if they offer, I will ask them to bring a plate – it makes life easier for me, and saves them buying and bringing something that may not be used. I also always have a stash of containers or op shop bowls on hand that I can fill with leftovers to send home with people.
  • Get sorted: I make sure I have accessible and easy-to-navigate sorting bins for compost and recyclables available. I just use a few buckets and write on them with a marker so that guests know where to put things and I don’t have to do any extra sorting at the end of the night!
  • Cutlery and crockery: If I’m entertaining a few people and don’t have enough cutlery, crockery, tablecloths, napkins, I’ll ask guests to bring a few extras or hit the op shops. I know of people that have a box of reusable tableware supplies that get shared around or you can check out the Party Kit Network ( to see if there is a reusable party kit available to  borrow or rent in your community (or you could start your own).



  • Decorations: I love looking to nature to zhuzh up the house when I have people coming over. Fresh flowers or branches out of the garden, fresh herbs in a jar, or a collection of pot plants from around the house. We also have reusable fabric bunting that gets rolled out for every celebration – the kids love the tradition and ritual of it.
  • Transport: I always like to let people know who else is coming so that they can carpool or walk together.

And remember, it’s not about being perfect, it’s just about making conscious choices that work for you and the way you celebrate.


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