I'm a girl who loves to throw a dinner party. I'm not even what most people would consider a social person. It's all about the food, really. I love planning the menu, spending all day in the kitchen, and then enjoying all my hard work with my loved ones. I've quickly learned that Christmas dinner can be an incredibly expensive undertaking. Even if your family is small, filling their plate with turkey, cranberry sauce and all the best side dishes quickly adds up.
Celebrating the holidays shouldn't be a source of stress or a financial burden. There are ways to keep from going totally broke when hosting Christmas dinner, but it won't happen without a plan. Not sure where to start? Here are a few ideas for keeping your holiday meal affordable and delicious.
1. Ask for help
Even if you are hosting Christmas in your home, there is no reason you should bear all of the financial responsibility for the meal. Ask your family members to bring a side dish or dessert along with them. Avoid having seven trays of Christmas cookies and no mashed potatoes by creating a menu in advance and asking each person to sign up a specific item.
2. Plan ahead and shop early
Make the plan for you meal weeks in advance so you can start shopping early. Watch the sale ads for the stores in your area for the items on your grocery list so you can avoid paying full price. Each week, when you head to the store for your regular shopping trip, throw a few of these items in your cart.
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3. Embrace technology
Keeping track of sale ads and making trips to multiple stores is one way to get the lowest price, but you can also use your smartphone to find out if you're paying too much for a specific item. Download Scan Life, an app that lets you compare prices from the comfort of your home or ShopAdvisor, an app that watches prices change and makes predictions on when an item will be at it's cheapest.
4. Do you own thing
Turkey may make a great centerpiece for a holiday meal, but a great holiday meal doesn't need a turkey as the centerpiece. Consider skipping the traditional Christmas meal altogether and opt for a more affordable option instead. In my family, we all drag our waffle makers to the host's house and feast of waffles, quiche and bacon on Christmas Eve. If breakfast for dinner isn't your thing, Italian food is also loved by many and typically very affordable.
5. Who says it has to be a dinner party?
If money is really tight, maybe you would be better off skipping dinner altogether. Instead, plan a more budget-friendly get together outside of the dinner hour. A casual lunch of soup, salad and crusty bread would make a great follow up to opening presents. Get together earlier in the day for brunch or late in the evening for dessert and coffee. You never know, you just might start a new tradition.