Holidays can be a stressful time for families. Not only do the days seem shorter and the to-do lists longer, there is the added pressure (many times, self-induced) of hosting the extended family for the annual Thanksgiving feast or Christmas dinner. With the increased costs of every day goods, one can easily become overwhelmed in trying to provide a holiday meal worth remembering while adhering to a budget.
This year I have the privilege of hosting our family’s Thanksgiving meal. I’m excited that family members who haven’t been in the same state in years will be sitting down together engaging in conversation, reliving memories and hopefully, make future plans together. With that excitement comes a bit of stress. How to feed my large, extended family and not break the bank? As someone who likes to entertain I’ve come up with a few tips to help feed your family for less this holiday season.
1. Don’t be so traditional. Who says that your holiday meal has to look like the picture of a greeting card? Think outside of the box on foods that are inexpensive to make but have great flavor and can feed a lot of people. Soup and potato bar anyone? Not only is this inexpensive to make but you probably have most of the ingredients in your pantry. Have all the fixings to go with it and no one will leave the table hungry.
2. Buy, don’t bake. I know, some of you have gasped that I would seriously suggest this. After all, aren’t the holidays about baking things? Let’s just think about this for a moment. My local grocery store typically has pies on sale for $4 apiece and they taste great. If I buy all the ingredients I need to bake a couple of pies, it will easily exceed the cost of purchasing them not even considering my time. If I take the 3-4 hours it would take me to bake the pies and work instead, then it was all worth it.
3. If you don’t shop sales, start doing it. I’m not a couponer. I tried a couple of times and it just wasn’t for me. However what I did learn was to buy extra of whatever was on sale that I would actually use. Don’t wait until the last minute to rush out and buy your groceries. Plan your menu now and look at the weekly sales circulars. I guarantee you’ll save money.
4. Fill them up on beverages. Now I’m not telling you to get Uncle Tom three sheets to the wind but we all know that if we’re well-hydrated we tend to eat less as many times we mistake thirst for hunger. Make up some hot apple cider or a festive punch that can be served as guests arrive and keep filling their glasses!
5. Be specific when others ask to help. One of the first questions out of everyone’s mouth is, “what I can bring?” Instead of saying don’t worry about it or whatever you want, be specific. If you need a vegetable dish, tell them! With everyone chipping in and bringing a dish, the financial burden lessens for you. Don’t let pride get in the way of that. Plus, most people don’t like coming empty handed. If there really isn’t anything else for your guest to bring, tell them to bring a bottle of wine. You can never have enough wine.
Whatever your plans are this holiday season, remember what the season is truly about. For each family, it is different and unique. Don’t be afraid to create your own greeting card.
Sarah is the mom of 2 crazy kids and 2 even crazier dogs. When she’s not hosting playdates or doing Insanity workouts, you can find her blogging at East9thStreet.
Image: Tom Curtis / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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