Christmas and New Year’s should be all about fun, faith and family. What Christmas shouldn’t be is expensive and stressful. Unfortunately, more often than not, it does become a strain on the pocket and the mind. Especially when you’re entertaining and hosting family dinners during the holidays. Does it always have to be like that? No. As I’ve learnt over the years, people really aren’t bothered about how fancy your dinnerware looks as long as they have cheerful company and a well-cooked meal.
In my last post, I talked about how to make planning for Christmas dinners easy and stress-free and here, I’ll share how I’ve started entertaining on a budget without compromising on the things that matter.
Menu Plan to Make Grocery Shopping Easy
Planning is essential and even, if you’re more spontaneous and spur-of-the-moment than I am, do plan out your menu for the big dinner. It’ll help you use items that you already have in the pantry and also, make shopping for groceries quick, easy and inexpensive. Here are my 5 fave ways of saving money on groceries.
Focus on the Essentials
A good part of our life goes in worrying about the little things that don’t really matter or count. Let that not be the case with your dinner party. Focus on the food. Keep everything else simple and straightforward. Family dinners should be about conversation, laughter and relaxation and not worrying about if the cutlery matches the flatware. If it does, great. If it doesn’t, that’s fine too.
Keep it Simple
Simple things look good, taste good and cost less. For instance, instead of expensive crackers topped with expensive olives or exotic toppings, opt for an inexpensive platter of homemade baguette slices topped with crushed tomatoes, homemade pesto and good quality, domestic cheese. I got this idea from one of Nigella Lawson’s cookbooks. I forget which one. The fact that it had red and green colors won me over.
For main course, choose a dish that suits dietary preferences or requirements and can be cooked in bulk easily. If like me, you’re preparing in advance, it should also freeze well. Good thing is most meals can be cooked in bulk and frozen. Pair a gravy-based chicken or meat dish, rice or bread, a salad and a side dish of vegetables. Simple yet filling. Now you know what we’re having for our Christmas dinner!
Décor Tips to Save Money
Choose to use cloth over paper for napkins and table linen, and your regular dinnerware instead of disposables. Not only will you save money, you’ll also help the planet. Mix and match instead of coordinating everything. If seating is an issue, go the buffet way. Keep table decoration simple –some flowers, a few candles and that’s it. All the Christmas décor is bound to make up for it. ***smiling***
Delight with Dessert
Dessert is an important part of any meal for me and for Christmas and other holidays, I bring out the cake and team it with a platter of cookies, some plain vanilla ice-cream or custard. It’s simple, most of the stuff is already there and ready and when you serve it, it looks delightful. The brown of the cake glowing against the white of the ice-cream. Yum!
Oh, and if you want to go the cookie route, do check out Jessica at Life as Mom’s 12 Days of Christmas Cookies. Bound to make an impression without hurting your budget!
There you go. Entertaining with ease and without busting the bank. Going the simple route is not only stress-free but also economical and I’ve found that my guests, family and me included enjoy our meal together more than ever.
So, what do you do to save money when entertaining during the holiday season? What are your budget entertaining tips? Spread the holiday cheer and do share!
Photo Credit: Rene Erhardt