Don't want to spend this Valentine's Day alone or on a dinner date in a crowded restaurant? There are plenty of alternative celebration ideas, whether you're hanging out with your single friends or planning a couples outing. One idea that's considered budget- and eco-friendly is a progressive dinner party. Similar to a potluck, each person or couple makes one course and beverage. And rather than staying at one location for the whole night, the group travels from home to home to eat, drink and celebrate the holiday together.

This past December, my friends and I planned a progressive Christmas dinner party. Because this was our first experience, we took away some valuable tips and tricks that'll help green your festive gathering.

Tips for an eco-friendly progressive dinner party

Find stops in the same neighborhood. Planning is key when it comes to a progressive dinner party. Start by establishing how many stops you'll make throughout the night. It'll set the tone for how long your group stays at each destination and how many courses need to be prepared. Also, finding stops that are close in distance means your group won't have to rely on a car. When you're ready to change locations – and snack options – get some steps and keep the party going on foot!

Prepare your course in advance. The first stop on a progressive dinner party has an advantage in that they have extra time to prep their dish. If you've volunteered for the night's second or last leg, be sure to conserve energy and make a recipe that doesn't require an oven or stovetop. Find a recipe you can set and forget, such as a hearty slow cooker recipe or a simple no-bake pie. This way, when guests arrive at your door, all you have to do is start serving.

Skip the plastic. Say no to plastic utensils, cups and plates for the environment's sake. It might seem like the most convenient and festive option at the time, but more than 90 percent of plastics in the U.S. make their way to landfills. Opt for reusable dinnerware and cups and know you're making the sustainable choice.

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