Family Together Christmas Celebration Concept

Budget-Friendly Holiday Hosting

Most of us have good intentions but we completely miss the mark when trying to stay on top of holiday spending. To say the least, as much as we’d like them to be, the words Christmas and budget are not synonymous.

There may be gifts for the kids, for grandma, grandpa, nieces and nephews, cousins, teachers, the bus driver, and the list goes on. By the time we’re in peak holiday mode, the Christmas budget has nearly dried up for many of us. If you’re hosting during the holidays, it’s not only an added expense, spending can be excessive if you don’t stick to budget. Here are 12 ways you can please your guests and save money:

  • Plan ahead

It’s a no brainer but if you don’t think ahead, you’ll lose sight of spending very quickly. Organizing your guest list, food and drink options and miscellaneous items like inexpensive décor are critical to putting on a successful, cost-effective gathering.

  • It’s all about presentation

You can turn cocktail hour into something a little more regal by thinking outside the box. If you’re putting out a meat or relish tray, try using holiday themed trays or lining dishes with pretty holiday paper. For added sophistication, consider serving appetizers to your guests instead of leaving them on the counter or table.

  • Make it a potluck

Don’t slave over the stove all day if you don’t have to. Instead, ask guests to bring one dish each and if you’re comfortable, consider assigning each person a menu item that fits with your theme. If mom’s bringing the meat, perhaps grandma can bring the potatoes? Hosting a potluck dinner isn’t only economical, it will likely lower your stress level, especially if you’re hosting a big gathering.

  • Serve a signature cocktail

Stocking the bar fridge with beer, wine and liquor may offer up a wide variety of drinks to please everyone’s palate but it will likely contribute to a dried up bank account by the end of the night! Offer a signature holiday cocktail (think candy cane punch) that you can offer to guests. Have beer or wine on standby if the cocktail doesn’t suit everyone’s style. You’ll save big and the festive drink will likely become a topic of conversation for the night.

  • DIY decorations

Skip pricy ornaments and decorations from high end craft stores. They might look Martha Stewart – like but they come with a hefty price tag. Buy gold or silver spray paint, gather up some pine cones with the kids and decorate your own wintery centerpieces . Placing the DIY décor in festive bowls or candle holders will create a unique, holiday look.

  • Create classy ambiance

The sounds and smells will invite your guests in before they have a chance to give you a holiday hug. Be sure not to overwhelm party-goers will strong scents- stick to smells that are subtle like essential oils. They won’t overpower people who walk through your front door. Looking for a natural way to make your home smell nice? The wafting scents of cinnamon and vanilla can be easily created by placing water, lemon, cinnamon and vanilla extract into a slow cooker. Set it to high and forget about the rest.

  • Choose in-season foods

Picking fruits or vegetables that are in season will help you stay on budget. Opting for brussels sprouts or squash are a couple of good options.

  • Host brunch

Unless you’re exclusively serving vegetarian dishes, putting on a Christmas dinner means buying meat and some cuts can be pricey. Instead of opting for a turkey dinner with all the fixings, why not host brunch instead? Pancakes, sausage and eggs can be served up for far less.

  • Bring out the fancy plates

Paper plates make for a quick clean up, but nothing says fancy like dusting off your fine china. You can also use everyday  dishware and it doesn’t even have to match! Having guests eat on a plate that doesn’t bend really ups the ante.

  • Make it BYOB

Alcohol can eat up a large part of your budget so if you’re looking for a quick way to save, ask guests to bring their own. You can have some alcohol on standby but not bearing the brunt of the booze bill means you can spend a little more in other areas.

  • Leave room for leftovers

If you love to host and are opening your home two consecutive days, why not carve a huge turkey and use the left overs for the next day? Turkey sandwiches, stews and pot pies make great meals even if they’re made from last night’s dinner.

  • Don’t go for prime rib

No one says you have to serve steak or lobster when you host a meal. Pasta dishes like lasagna or inexpensive dishes like chili taste delicious and won’t break the bank. Opt for cheap carbs too like bread or dinner rolls.

Whether you choose to keep things simple or prefer to host something more elaborate, keep these tips in mind to ensure you stick to your intended budget. Remember, the January visa bill will be arriving before you know it!