8 Ideas to Minimize the Cost of your Christmas Dinner

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Hosting a Christmas dinner or even lunch can take a toll on your wallet, especially if you have an extended family and have to host more than one reception. All the extra money you spend on food or drink won’t be available for gifts, so it’s important to keep your Christmas reception budget under control.

Below are 8 ideas you can use to minimize the cost of your holiday dinner.

christmas-dinner1. Get invited
The best advice to save on your Christmas dinner is to get invited. People love hosting Christmas dinner, so let others take the lead if you can help it. Just make sure you don’t wait until the last minute to figure out your holiday plans. Otherwise, you may be eating alone!

For example, try to maintain a rotation so that each year a different family member will organize the Christmas dinner. In the long run, this is the best solution for saving money.

2. Make guests contribute
Rather than covering the entire cost of the Christmas dinner yourself, ask your guests contribute. You don’t have to make them pay for dinner, but each person or couple can bring something small – potluck style. For example, sparkling wine or Christmas pudding are usually easy to carry and your guests will usually be happy to bring something.

3. Buy ingredients in advance and freeze them
To avoid costly last minute shopping trips, which will cost you both time and money, buy your ingredients in advance when prices are lower. Then simply freeze them until Christmas. For example, you can buy meat or fish a couple of weeks in advance and leave them in the freezer. When the time comes, you will have everything ready to go.

4. Cook at lot of seasonal vegetables
Seasonal vegetables are not only good for your health, but they are also usually quite cheap. So cook loads of them. Your guests will love it and you won’t have to spend a fortune on expensive cuts of meat and fish.

5. Look for specials
Shopping centers and supermarkets want you to shop with them so they will often have some good deals on traditional Christmas food products. For instance, turkey, oysters, and Christmas pudding are usually on specials for a limited time.  Shop around (when competition is fierce, prices go down) and be careful not to wait until the last minute as prices go up just before Christmas.

6. Get the proportions right
Christmas hosts always tend to cook way too much food. During the Christmas season, your guests have probably been eating rich food for days and have probably not gotten much exercise either. Cooking more means spending more, so if you get the proportions right, you will save money.

7. Serve alcohol in moderation
Wine and champagne are essential during the holidays, but they do account for a large share of the dinner costs. To keep this component of your budget under control, try to slow down alcohol consumption as much as possible. Use smaller glasses if you have to and don’t pour huge quantities all at once. That way, your guests will appreciate their drinks even more and for a longer period of time.

8. Don’t waste energy
Keep your energy bill under control. Even though this isn’t a direct cost related to the Christmas dinner, you could be unpleasantly surprised by the expense.

If you are having 10 to 20 people in one room, it is more than likely to be warm, so turn the heater down or off for awhile. Your wallet and guests will appreciate it. Furthermore, avoid leaving lights, appliances or the TV on when no one is using them. Before going to bed, make sure to turn off all of your Christmas decorations!

How else can you save on costs for Christmas dinner?  Leave a comment and let us know!

Fred Schebesta writes about saving money at Savings Account Finder. He helps people compare savings accounts to maximize their interests and return on investment.

Categories: Frugality, Spending and Saving

  • http://www.fiscalfizzle.com/ Wojciech Kulicki

    “Get Invited” sounds a little sleazy, but it’s probably the most frugal suggestion up there. Of course, it’s polite to always bring something, but the cost of a bottle of wine or even a dish is peanuts compared to the time, money, and energy required to host a dinner at home, even when others contribute.

    This was an awesome list, and very timely as we prepare for our own Christmas dinners.

  • Nancy

    How about … use coupons, buy produce at the farmer’s market, and also shop the post holiday sales for non-perishable goods. During the summer I’ve purchased Ocean Spray cranberry sauce for as little as 33 cents a can at Big Lots. We enjoy it all year round including Easter, Father’s Day, etc!

  • Anissa

    Taking turns hosting really helps especially if the “host” only needs to provide the main course and the guests bring everything else.

  • http://nonfinancepro.info/2012 Smart Money Manager

    These are really practical and I would love doing it this coming Christmas. Thanks!