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7 Frugal Tips For How To Entertain Guests At Your House For The Holidays

By Heather Levin

Here’s the scenario: you’ve got your Aunt Edna, Uncle Frank, and your three cousins coming for the holidays. Plus, your parents have been subtly hinting they’d like to come stay as well.

You’re trying to be excited about having so much time with your family, but you can’t help but think about how much this is going to cost. With guests, tntertainment costs increase exponentially, utilities shoot up, and it becomes almost impossible to save money on grocery bills.

The good news is that with a little preparation, houseguests don’t have to be as expensive as you might think. Here are 7 strategies to help you budget for your houseguests:

Strategy #1: Plan Your Spending Now

Are you on a budget plan? Do you have any kind of cushion?

It’s important to know where you stand financially so you’re not pressured into spending money that you don’t have. If you know exactly how much you’re able to spend on fun activities, then you can make better financial decisions when your family gets here. So, take the time to figure out where you stand budget-wise, and how much you can reasonably afford to spend.

Strategy #2: Cook Ahead

You don’t have to spend your family’s entire visit slaving over the stove (unless, of course, you’re using this as a clever avoidance tactic) or dropping a ton of money at a restaurant.

You can save money and time by planning ahead and cooking meals in advance. There are tons of recipes, like lasagna, that freeze beautifully. Need some inspiration? Check out this list of 100 Make Ahead Meals. Read the fine print, though! Some of these can’t be frozen. Want more? Check out these healthy, cheap, and easy meals to make.

Another great way to cook ahead is with your crock pot. Meat and veggies can be tossed in early in the morning, and by the time the day’s over, you have a hot delicious meal waiting. What’s better than that? One of my favorite crock pot recipes is Hoppin’ Jon. The site where I got that recipe, A Year of Slow Cooking, is chock-full of awesome crock pot recipes!

Strategy #3: Research Activities

Start researching low-cost or free activities you can do when your friends or family gets here. And if you have a AAA Membership, use it! There are tons of AAA Membership discounts on awesome activities including restaurants, sporting events, and museums.

Strategy #4: Use Your Warehouse Club Membership

If you have a Costco or Sam’s Club Membership, now’s the time it can really pay off. Head here to pick up bulk supplies before your houseguests arrive.

Strategy #5: Think About Who’s Coming

What’s there to think about, you ask? Well, as an example, consider the potential problems if you have a guest with small children coming over. Your favorite vase and the DVD player could be broken before you turn around. Or remember your favorite plants? They’ll have their fingers in the dirt (and then on your white carpeting) before you know it.

If kids are coming, then kid-proof your house in advance. If very small children are coming, then make sure plugs are protected and stairs can be blocked. If you don’t have any children, use your local library to stock up on kids books and movies before they arrive. There’s nothing like keeping children distracted.

Conversely, if you have elderly relatives coming, analyze your house carefully. Are there rugs or cords they could trip over? Will they have trouble getting in and out of the tub? Do you have nightlights handy? Be prepared!

Strategy #6: Be Careful What You Loan Your Guests

If your mom borrows your car to run to the store, what will happen if she gets into an accident?

If you’re planning on loaning out your car, make sure you know whether or not you’re protected if something happens to it with someone else driving. This could be a very expensive mistake if you’re left unprotected!

Strategy #7: Give Yourself the Night Off

Mark Twain once said, “Houseguests are like fish; they’re only good for three days.”

At the end of your parent’s 10-day holiday stay, you’re going to agree with that statement!

After your guests leave (and they will…eventually), give yourself the night off. Resist the urge to manically clean the house and put everything back to where it was. Instead, pour yourself a glass of wine, put on something cozy, put your feet up, and revel in the fact that you have your house to yourself again. Trust me, this will feel as good as a vacation!

Do you have any additional tips for preparing for houseguests?

(Photo Credit: mollypop)

Heather Levin
Heather Levin is a freelance writer based in Detroit, MI. She's passionately committed to living green, saving money, and helping others do the same in their life.

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  • AFP

    Boo. Way to be a total Scrooge about the holidays. Let your mom borrow your car! Let kids run around in your house and touch your plant! Live a little!

  • Heather Levin

    @AFP- I’m all for having an awesome time during the holidays.

    But, it can be downright dangerous to let small kids run around your home if you don’t already have kids simply because they get into everything. For instance, many common houseplants, especially ones that show up around the holidays, are poisonous to children…sometimes fatally so. English ivy, mistletoe, Peace Lilies, aloe vera, Amaryllis…all will cause vomiting other symptoms if ingested by children.

    And if your mom totaled your car, and you found out you’re not covered because she was driving, would you be so laissez-faire about it?

    I’m not saying we should all be Scrooges. But a little prudence doesn’t hurt either.

  • http://www.madatdebt.com/ Scott Neumyer

    Good stuff! I touched on similar stuff yesterday. Great suggestions!

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