Easy Entertaining – Frugal Holiday Entertaining

Carmen D. Lade

One aspect to take into consideration when entertaining is the financial cost. If you aren’t careful, expenses can add up, pushing you over budget when feeding a crowd. Follow these easy tips to keep your holiday gatherings memorable and budget-friendly!

1. Don’t worry about decorating the entire house. Focus the festive decorating in the room where you are entertaining. Concentrate on the food and the table if you are on a tight budget.

2. Use what you have. Re-purpose items you already have on hand instead of buying new ones. Collect branches and pine cones yourself and use for decorating instead of purchasing them.

3. When choosing a menu, make budget-conscious choices. For example, a standing rib roast is a beautiful entrée, but it will push your budget way up. Host a Buon Natale theme, an “Italian Inspired Christmas” and prepare two delicious, yet inexpensive pasta main dishes along with salads and a loaf of foccacia. Choose recipes that call for lower cost ingredients.

4. If you are hosting a large gathering, warehouse stores can save you quite a bit of money. Use a shopping list when grocery shopping and do not stray from your list even if the store carries irresistible new items you would like to try. Stick to your list and you will stick to your budget.

5. Filling in your menu with purchased items is a great time-saver, but be aware that it can increase your overall costs substantially. Preparing all the food yourself or taking guests up on their offer to bring a dish is one of the most cost effective ways to save money when entertaining.

6. If you serve alcohol, skip the mixed drinks and serve wine and/or beer along with other non-alcoholic choices. Or if you wish to serve a cocktail, make a “Cocktail of the Evening” and serve it in a pitcher or punchbowl, rather than having an open bar.

7. Skip the disposable party ware and use dishes and serving pieces you already have for your table setting. Washing a full load of dishes in your dishwasher saves money and energy over washing them by hand and is less work for you!

8. For a centerpiece, think fruit and vegetables rather than flowers. For Thanksgiving, use a serving tray and fill it with squash, mini-pumpkins, apples, pears, nuts for an attractive centerpiece. Use a silver bowl with pomegranates, apples or clove-spiked citrus fruit for Christmas. You can eat most of the items after your holiday gathering is over.

Do a few things and do those well. If you concentrate your efforts and budget with this in mind, you will pull off you entertaining with style and efficiency.

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