The holiday season is here and all of the jolliness comes at a price that many people cannot afford. Having a tight budget can make the holiday season rather uncomfortable due to the expectations for gift-giving, cost of large holiday meals, and seasonal entertainment.
Families who do not want to forego holiday cheer can stretch their money further by following the tips below.
Food takes center stage during the holidays and with a large family, it can represent a major expense. Look for sales on holiday roasts and birds and use coupons to save more money.
Loading up on appetizers and side dishes is a tricky way to reduce the expense for the main dish.
Cheese, crackers, vegetables, pasta, and rice are much less expensive and fill up the stomach. By preparing a cheese or vegetable tray at home rather than buying it from the grocery store, you save money while playing host.
Don’t Be Afraid To Bulk Up…Literally!
Buying in bulk is another easy way to save. Purchase large enough quantities to feed everyone but do not overdo it. Having some leftovers for the coming weeks is fine but do not buy enough to feed the family until springtime. Spoiled food is wasted food and on a tight budget, there is no place for waste. When shopping, look for store brands that are inexpensive alternatives to major names and day-old goods that are still edible.
A potluck holiday meal is a fun alternative that keeps food costs low. Prepare the holiday menu in advance and assign each guest to make a separate dish so you can focus on the main course. Guests will have an opportunity to show off their cooking skills and you will appreciate the help.
The More The Merrier
If you plan to serve alcoholic beverages with the meal, ask each guest to bring a bottle of his or her favorite to share with the group. This is a way to sample new drinks without having to purchase entire bottles of alcohol yourself.
Decorating is often the last priority when holiday budgets are small but decorations make holiday meals more festive. Before heading to the store to purchase holiday décor, look around the house. It should not be difficult to find a few glass vases or bowls. Fill them with holiday ornaments or pinecones from the yard and tie some ribbon around the outside to make them look festive.
Sprigs of evergreen can be made into a table centerpiece, with a pillar candle in a vase serving as the focal point. If you have a holiday cactus or Poinsettia in full bloom, incorporate it into the decorations. Some markets may put holiday plants on sale at the start of the season so purchase them now to have on hand for the occasion.
If you do not have enough dishes and plates to accommodate the large crowd, borrow some from friends or family members. Matching should not be a high priority, particularly if the meal has multiple courses. Guests will be focused on the delicious food and lively company, not the patterns on their plates!