How to Host Christmas Dinner on a Budget

Spend less this Christmas with money saving tips from LoanPig

Christmas is almost upon us and many of us are feeling the pinch. In our recent article Ten Tips to Get Christmas Sorted we looked at various ways of saving money in the run up to Christmas. In this article we go into more detail about how to host Christmas dinner without spending a fortune.
Here are ourTop Ten Tips.If you follow these you should be able to have a fabulous Christmas dinner,without breaking the bank:
  1. Plan ahead
Taking time to plan your Christmas menu before you go shopping can save you a lot of time and money. Most of us are busy and impatient at this time of year, just wanting to get everything done. But it is well worth spending an hour or so carefully planning your Christmas dinner and making lists of everything you need.
This time spent planning will reap rewards because you will then just buy exactly what you need instead of ending up with far too much food and a lot of waste.
  1. Break with tradition
The default assumption is that you will have turkey and all the trimmings on Christmas Day. If this is what people genuinely want, then go ahead. But many people now prefer different types of food. There is a growing interest in eating less meat, and if you do serve turkey you may well find that you are also needing to provide some kind of vegetarian alternative as well.
So this year instead of automatically rushing into a turkey dinner just think of who you are catering for and whether they really want that. More importantly what do you really want? So many of us spend time and effort doing the turkey dinner but don’t really want it ourselves. So be bold this year and cook the food that you and your guests really like, even if you break with tradition by doing so.
  1. Remember Christmas is a season
It’s so easy to focus all your culinary efforts on Christmas Day and forget about the rest of the holiday. So give some thought to your menus for Boxing Day and the next few days as well. This can help you to save money by buying food items that will work together to carry you through the season.
So if you do decide to have turkey it can end up being more economical to buy a large bird if you know you will then be able to use the leftover meat for other meals over the next few days. If this is the case then you can also buy vegetables, salads, sauces, condiments etc that will enable you to stretch the turkey into several more meals.
But if you usually end up just leaving the leftover turkey to rot then throw it away a week or so later then either get  a small bird or a turkey crown. Or you may want to consider chicken as a perfectly acceptable replacement.
  1. Forget the big shop!
You will probably find it better to do a few small food shops in the remaining time between now and Christmas, rather than leaving everything till the last minute. This will enable you to do your shopping in an organised way and to spread the cost. It will also ensure that everything is available as things can sometimes run out nearer Christmas.
Most importantly prevents it avoids that last minute supermarket frenzy where you just end up throwing much more than you need into your trolley “just in case”. Items that you don’t need, can’t afford and will probably end up being wasted.
  1. Shop around
Another advantage of doing your food shopping in batches is that you can shop around for the best deals. Most of the major supermarkets, and many local stores, have a varying offers and discounts in the run up to Christmas. So if you spread your shopping between them you should be able to get the best deals from each.
  1. Smaller portions
Another way that we can spend far too much money on food over Christmas is to serve people portions that are too large. In our worry about people not having enough food we can provide far too much and create a lot of waste.
So when planning your menus and food shopping, yes make sure there is enough to eat but don’t waste money on food that will end up not being eaten. There is a helpful guide to Christmas portion sizeson The BBC’s Good Food website which is a useful tool for effective planning to buy the right amount of food.
  1. Homemade is often cheaper
Whatever is on your Christmas menu, it is usually cheaper to make the little extras yourself. Whether this is gravy or stuffing, cauliflower cheese, soup, curry sauce, pasta sauce or a whole host of other foodie favourites, you can save pounds by making them yourself.
The trick is to ensure that the ingredients you are using for these items are things that either you already have in your cupboards or that you can use for another meal over the Christmas season. You are then getting your money’s worth from these items rather than buying a carton or jar of something that will just be used once.
  1. Get everyone involved
Leading on from the above, it can be tempting to refuse all offers of help when you are hosting, but this is the year to change that! Many guests actually feel uncomfortable if the host has gone to a lot of effort and expense, and is rushing around doing everything. So when guests ask if they can bring anything, say yes. Whether this is a homemade signature dish or dessert, cheese, chocolates, crackers or party games accept it with good grace. It will be one thing less for you to do and will help to spread the cost.
  1. Don’t buy all the drinks
One of the main areas where you can spend a small fortune when hosting Christmas dinner is drinks. As hosts, our instinct is to try and cater for every possible combination that people would like. The problem is that there is now such a wide variety of popular drinks that it is simply impossible to have everything.
So remember that you are not a pub! Why not just keep things simple with a basic choice of wines, beers and soft drinks. Make this clear to guests in advance so that if anyone wants anything else then they can bring their own drink of choice. This will keep everyone happy whilst keeping your costs down.
  1. Find extra money
We all get to the point a few days before Christmas when it just seems that ends will not meet. You need to find extra money but where from?! Well many of us have hidden money that we don’t realise is there. This can be in the form of loyalty cards and vouchers.
Most people have at least one supermarket loyalty card and never give it a second thought. But next time you are shopping, ask the cashier how much your points are worth: you might be pleasantly surprised! You can then use the points to go towards your bill which can be very helpful at this time of year.
Also check around your home for supermarket vouchers or other gift vouchers. Many of us have these kind of things lying around and don’t bother to use them but it can be well worth it. You can even resell unused gift vouchers online on sites such as Zeek and make a bit of quick cash this way.
If you are really stuck for cash then you may want to consider a small loan just to tide you over the Christmas season. For example, LoanPig offers loans of £50-£1500 over 1-12 months. We can give you a loan decision within minutes of your application, and the money within 24 hours if your application is successful. We also have access to one of the UK’s largest panel of lenders and brokers, so that if we can’t offer you a loan we can put you in touch with others who can try to find the best loan deal available for you.
We hope that thesemoney savingtips enable you to have a wonderful Christmas without ending up in debt by January. Check back here soon for moremoney savingtips from LoanPig.