Do you use real (not disposable) plates and flatware for big parties? I always do, as I really don't like eating a holiday meal off a paper plate. But I make an exception for dessert. When you realize you'll run out of plates for that 22-person gathering, or someone is going to have to wash forks between courses, why not consider a compostable option? Here are some that I really like.
I always carefully count my forks, knives, and plates before setting up a big dinner. But sometimes I forget about dessert and scramble to find enough plates or bowls to serve pie to 25. The dessert round is also of course one more thing to clean up afterwards.
So instead of buying or borrowing another stack of plates, I like to use compostable options instead.
These are the plates and forks I really like, and they're made of wood or bamboo and compost or biodegrade quickly so I feel good about sweeping them into the compost pile (you can see an Inhabitat test on a similar product, reporting on how quickly they break down).
The catch with this kind of product is that it's cheapest to buy them in fairly large bulk from a restaurant supply source, like the one I have listed below. It may seem like a lot of money, but a one-time purchase can last you through several years of parties and holidays. I keep a stash of these compostable products in a box in my basement and they come in so handy when I have big parties!