Is there anything that spreads more holiday cheer than Christmas dinner? Hosting a big, delicious dinner on Christmas day is part of the tradition. Whether you’re hosting a meal for your entire extended family or just a few loved ones, you’ll want to make sure it’s special.
With so much pressure to host the best Christmas dinner ever, it can feel impossible to stay on budget. Let’s face it, classic Christmas movies paint Christmas dinner to be some kind of massive feast that could feed an entire army. How are you supposed to keep up?
With inspiration like that, it’s no wonder so many families struggle to make ends meet financially around the holiday season. In fact, this year Australian shoppers are on track to spend a record $50 billion during this season leading up to Christmas day. That’s a lot of cash that Australians simply don’t have.
Luckily, Christmas dinners come in all shapes, sizes, and budgets. It’s possible to throw a dinner you love at a price you can afford. Skip the stress of buying more food than you can afford and choose to save this holiday season with these budget tips.
Start with a Plan
If you try to go to the grocery store without a plan, you’ll quickly find yourself overwhelmed and swept away in the chaos of holiday shopping. The grocery stores get particularly packed at this time of year, so start shopping early to avoid dealing with that rush.
Don’t go shopping the week (or day!) before Christmas. Start now. Make a plan for everything you want to serve. Leave no dessert or side unaccounted for. The sooner you start your planning, the more time you have to recruit relatives and friends. Are you inviting guests to your dinner? Share your holiday dinner list with them to see if there’s anything they want to take care of. Most guests love contributing something to the feast!
Delegating sides, desserts, and drinks to your guests eases the burden on your own wallet and saves you time in the kitchen. Start shopping early by making a list of all the ingredients you’ll need for your dishes. Make sure you check with what you already have in your kitchen and pantry to avoid buying more than you need. The earlier you can shop, the more opportunities you’ll have to find great deals.
Look for Coupons
While the holidays are usually known as the most expensive time to shop during the year, the opposite is true of groceries. Many holiday staples go on sale during November and December. You can find deals on baking supplies, veggies, and all the extras you need along the way.
If you want to master Christmas dinner on a budget, check your local grocery guides to see what coupons are available. This is why it’s essential you start shopping early. Some of these sales will go quick! Don’t be afraid to buy canned goods, frozen vegetables, and other “pre-packaged” foods. These are just as fresh as their produce aisle counterparts, and they’ll taste just as delicious on Christmas day.
Borrow What You Need
Are you out of nice plates to serve your dinner? Ask around. It’s a waste to buy expensive glassware and serving tools that you’ll only use once. Instead, see if any of your guests have something you can borrow for Christmas day.
If borrowing isn’t an option, consider using disposable plates and cups. While not as pretty as glassware, they’re easier to clean and inexpensive. Plus, disposable items are perfect for the younger members of your family who might need something more durable for their meal.
If you must have glassware, opt for cheaper styles that you can use again and again. Nothing looks more sophisticated than a classic white plate set, and you can grab one anywhere for a few bucks.
Stick to Your Christmas Dinner Plan
It’s easy to get distracted by the holiday season and fun items in the store. Remember that even grocery stores are designed to make you want to buy more, even when you don’t need these extras. Stick to your plan to keep from blowing your budget.
The next time you catch yourself thinking “Oh, I should grab this for my dinner,” take a second to think it over to yourself. Do you really need it? If you’re worried you’re not going to have enough wine, for example, can you ask a friend to bring a bottle? When in doubt, wait it out. Odds are you’ll realize you didn’t need it after all.
Budgeting for Holiday Cheer
It’s time to create a Christmas dinner your guests will rave about for years to come. Don’t fall for the myth that the perfect meal comes with a big price tag. It’s all about spending time with your loved ones and celebrating the best time of year.
Start with a plan and stick with it. Ask for help from your friends and family. Most Australians actually regret overspending at the holiday time, so don’t let that be you this year. Your finances can stay healthy all year round with proper budgeting. It’s great to love Christmas and to want to make it special for your family. However, be reasonable. It’s the memories that matter more than material things.
If you need help managing your budget this holiday season, reach out to an expert at Debt Busters. We know just how magical this time of year is for everyone. Let’s make sure your family enjoys everything there is to love without blowing your budget.