Q: It’s my turn to host my family for the holidays. How can I entertain the crowd without spending a fortune?
A: While it’s great fun to gather under one roof for a festive meal, feeding a crowd can seriously strain your budget. Fortunately, it’s possible to be a great host without breaking your budget. Try these 3 handy tips to save on expenses:
For all personal finance matters, it’s crucial to make a plan. The plan should identify your needs for a project and how you intend to meet them. For a meal, that includes all the food on your menu and anything else you need for the meal. The earlier you start planning, the better. Having a plan lets you capitalize on the rotating grocery specials and allows you to incorporate more seasonal produce, which is always cheaper. The plan also helps you create a budget for your holiday meal spending.
The sheer volume of tasks involved in hosting a holiday meal can quickly become overwhelming. You need to cook, clean, decorate, and stock your house with essentials, like toilet paper. It’s a lot of work! That’s why it’s important to delegate wherever possible. You can ask one of your guests to create the menu and put the kids in charge of the decorating.
By outsourcing responsibilities, your task turns from overwhelming to manageable. This decreases the temptation to find a quick and potentially expensive solution at the last minute.
While everyone loves a nice holiday roast, cuts of beef big enough for an entire family can easily top $200. Instead, look for seasonal specialties, like spiral cut ham. You can also serve turkey breast or whole chicken, both of which can feed many without draining your wallet. If you have the time, slow-cooking cheap cuts of pork can make ham or bacon that’s tastier and cheaper than what you get at the supermarket. Allow to cure in the fridge for several days, and then cook with a smoker or a standard grill. Use the same home-cooking ingenuity to save on sides. To feed lots of people for mere pennies, use root vegetables. Rubbing potatoes, sweet potatoes or carrots with salt and pepper, and roasting for 40 minutes on medium heat can turn ordinary produce into delicious, inexpensive sides. Finally, substitute other people’s cooking for your own. Ask your guests to pitch in by bringing desserts or sides. This will save you time and money.
Don’t forget that the best things about the holiday are free. Your guests will remember the shared experience of the holidays more than what was on their plates, so focus on being gracious and making your guests feel welcome.
Your Turn: What’s your best holiday-budget survival tip? Do you have any go-to tips or tricks that save on costs? Let us know how you host with the most (without spending the most) in the comments!