When you reflect on past holiday gatherings, what comes to mind? Sharing stories, making memories, laughter, and probably enjoying food. Often food can become a focal point for our celebrations but this is also a time of year when money can be tight.
Here are some tips for planning a budget-conscious gathering with your family this holiday season:
Plan Your Menu
Check your cupboards, pantry, and freezer for items that you have on hand that can make a special dish. Look for items such as nuts, dried cranberries, or frozen appetizers you already have that can be easily included in your menu. If you are including a more expensive dish, balance it with less costly recipes and side dishes.
Research Ways to Save
Next look at what stores are advertising on sale and plan your menu around those best buys. Often holiday cooking staples will be on special pricing to entice customers to shop. Take advantage of online and paper coupons to save even more. Some stores also offer special sales on certain days of the week.
Save money on non-perishables by buying wholesale. Check if family or friends will split bulk perishable food items with you. Bulk savings turn into losses if food goes to waste.
Make a List
Write out the ingredients you need after checking what you already have on hand. A list can help you stay focused on the items you need and avoid impulse purchases that can make your grocery trip costly. This can also help you get everything you need in one trip and save you from making additional trips which will cost you in gas and time.
Shake Up Tradition
If your budget is tighter than normal this holiday season, it might be a good idea to create a new family tradition.
- Suggest a potluck menu that would allow everyone to contribute and reduce the financial burden falling on one person.
- Instead of a full meal, have family enjoy other activities together to celebrate along with a snack or refreshment. Host a card-writing party, cookie-decorating event, or gift-wrapping session with hot chocolate.
- Some families find creative alternatives to gift giving (which can be both mentally and financially stressful) such as holding a raffle to benefit the winner’s charity of choice.
Written by Amy Singleton, Regional Extension Agent for Kentucky Nutrition Education Program. Edited by Lauren Fernandez, Oldham County Extension Program Assistant.