...And after the party it’s the hotel lobby. Just kidding. After the party it’s the leftovers. And the decor we don’t know what to do with. And the booze we didn’t finish. So, we ask, what now? How can we be thoughtful and intentional about what we do with our holiday leftovers, both in the kitchen and beyond? During the busiest time of the year, how can we take a beat and consider all of the little things that we can do with our leftover goods to keep them not only from going to waste, but to enriching the lives of others as well? These are our top 7 ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle those holiday leftovers.
1. Repurpose Your Leftover Food
That’s easy, you think. No brainer, you think. Until your turkey carcass has been sitting on the back porch for five days, forgotten by all. There are two simple strategies for making the most of your leftovers: breakfast and soup. Breakfast is our go-to for using up those leftover mashed potatoes (we love this cheesy potato pancake with a runny egg) and sweet potatoes (hello sweet potato hash!). Both are great with a dollop of cranberry sauce on top, too. As for that bird, try repurposing the whole thing into an incredibly flavorful and simple turkey soup. Think your mama’s chicken soup, with a holiday twist. Not only will you be using every part of the bird, but the recipe feeds a crowd of family members for lunch or dinner the next day.
2. Repurpose Your Leftover Booze
So here’s the situation. You may have overestimated how much your family members drink (that’s a sign of a healthy 2019 to come, amirite?). Now you’re stuck with bottles that don’t fit in your overflowing wine rack (or bar cart), and there aren’t many post-holiday party opportunities for regifting. It’s time to get creative. Our favorite ways to repurpose those leftover bottles are by channeling them into homemade items that you will be using for months to come. We love this homemade red wine vinegar for all of our salad dressings, boozy cherries for our manhattans, and infused vodka that will last and last.
3. Donate Your Leftover Food
Sometimes there are too many leftovers to possibly repurpose them all, and that’s ok too. For when the sight of extra stuffing makes you feel physically ill, there are some incredible organizations that take your leftover food off of your hands. One of our favorites is Rescuing Leftover Cuisine, who operates in the New York and Massachusetts areas. You can work with them to schedule a pick-up and their amazing volunteers will show up at your door. It doesn’t get much easier than that!
4. Have Your Guests BYO...C
As in, bring your own container. Let your guests know ahead of time to bring a sustainable glass container of their choice, and you will supply them with leftovers upon their release. This will help you virtually eliminate food waste, and also help you clear out your fridge in case you’re tempted to have pie for breakfast for the next week (and a half).
5. Donate Leftover Decor
We often forget that not only are the holidays filled with an excess of food and drink, but there’s a whole slew of decorations and gifting accoutrements that come along with them. Enter: The Birthday Party Project. They take everything from wrapping paper to table cloths to streamers to party hats off your hands, and use them to throw birthday parties for kids at homeless shelters and transitional living facilities all over the country.
6. Recycle That Christmas Tree
Who needs Coachella when you can attend Mulchfest? That’s right, meet the hottest post-holiday event of the 2019 season. The NYC Parks & Rec department sets this up every year in early January, and gives residents drop-off sites all over the boroughs to which they can bring their Christmas Tree and have it turned into wood chips. These chips, in turn, are used to nourish parks and gardens across the city in the coming year.
7. Have Your Kids Get Involved
For all of the receiving that we do over the holidays, one of the most important lessons to pass on is that of giving. We love the idea of having your kids, or the kids in your family, choose one item of clothing or toy to donate to a local hospital or donation site during the holidays. This is an incredible resource for finding a place near you that feels meaningful, and don’t be afraid to get your little one involved in the selection process too.
What are some ways you like to re-use?