Here’s how to host Christmas on a budget
Christmas 2020 was such a washout that many of us are looking forward to this Christmas even more than we usually would.
And if you are hosting Christmas for family or friends, it probably makes you more determined to make sure everyone has a great time. The problem is that it can quickly start getting very expensive.
But is it really possible to host Christmas on a budget?
In this article we look at how to save money on Christmas 2021. Here are Ten Tips on how to do just that.
Ten Tips to save money this Christmas
Tip 1 : Set a spending limit
In our earlier article Is it too early to start thinking about Christmas?, we explained the importance of setting a budget for Christmas 2021. You need to be confident about what you can afford to spend before you start spending.
So plan carefully what food and drink you are going to offer your guests, and make sure this is within the limit of what you are able to spend. There are ways to make your money go further – which we shall look at below. But you need to start off with a realistic spending limit, otherwise you can soon end up in a financial mess.
Remember that Christmas is all about spending time with the people you love rather than trying to create perfection. It’s far better to keep things simple than be stressed about overspending.
Tip 2 : Shop around
Once you know the food and drink you want to serve, it’s a good idea to shop around for the best deals. Different stores and supermarkets will all offer various discounts in the run up to Christmas, so with a bit of careful planning you can shop at several stores and get the best deals from each.
Always check out supermarket own brand items. These are usually good quality and could be considerably cheaper than other brands. Also if you are buying for larger numbers of people it may make sense to shop differently from usual. For example, a whole turkey may be better value than a turkey crown, and when cooking for more people you should be able to use it all up so that nothing goes to waste.
You may also want to look at offers from online companies who specialise in delivering items such as vegetable boxes, baked goods, or crates of wine. You may be able to pick up a good introductory offer that works out better value than a store, and also delivers to your door.
Tip 3 : Presence not presents?
If you are having guests for Christmas, it’s a good idea to agree on your present strategy in advance. They may want to bring you a gift because you are hosting, but then you could feel awkward if you don’t have something similar for them.
So it makes sense to address the issue of gifts beforehand and either agree not to exchange gifts, to set a strict spending limit on gifts, or perhaps to do a Secret Santa between you.
If your guests insist that they must bring gifts because you are hosting, ask them to bring something else instead. Which leads nicely on to our next tip . . .
Tip 4 : Say yes to all offers
As hosts, it’s easy to fall into the trap of trying to do everything ourselves. People ask if they can bring something or help in some other way and we usually say no, just to be polite. And to be honest, it can sometimes seem more hassle to explain to someone else what you want than just do it yourself.
But this is the year to change all that! Think in advance what you could ask people to bring so that you are prepared. It may be a starter, dessert, cheeses or Christmas crackers. But take every opportunity to share the load with everyone who offers. It will make things much easier for you, and you will save money too.
Tip 5 : Operate a Bring Your Own drinks policy
One of the biggest expenses when you are hosting Christmas is drinks. Not only are drinks expensive to buy, but you are also trying to make sure that you have absolutely everything that anyone may possibly want. This can turn out to be ridiculously expensive, and can also mean that you are left with a lot of stuff afterwards that you don’t really want or need.
So why not stock up with a few basics such as beer, wine and soft drinks, but ask guests that if they want anything different they need to bring it themselves. That saves you spending lots of money on spirits or cocktail ingredients on the off chance that someone might want them.
Tip 6 : Have your very own bake off
If you have baking ingredients in your home, perhaps even left over from last Christmas, see if you can top them up then use them to make something for this Christmas. Whether it’s mince pies, shortbread, Christmas cake, Christmas pudding or whatever else you feel like, get baking.
Even better if you could club together with a friend or two, to swap the results of your efforts. You could each end up with a few home-baked goodies at a fraction of the cost of buying them.
Tip 7 : Don’t waste food
Christmas can result in a huge amount of food being wasted. This is such a shame, and is really like pouring money down the drain. So when preparing meals over the festive season, think about portion sizes. Prepare enough food for everyone, but not too much that they are leaving it on their plates.
To help you with this, check out The BBC Good Food’s guide to Christmas portion sizes to work out how much food to make for the number of people you are trying to feed.
It’s also important to use up everything that you do buy, so when planning meals for the few days after Christmas, try to base them on the kinds of ingredients you are likely to have left over from Christmas itself. Everyone jokes about turkey curry, but there are many meals that can be made from all kinds of combinations of leftovers. Take a look at Love Food Hate Waste for inspiring recipes using leftover ingredients of your choice.
Tip 8 : Start your food shopping and preparation now
There are still a few weeks to Christmas so it’s a great idea to start buying as much as you can in advance. For example, non-perishable items such as canned, dried and frozen goods.
You may also be able to prepare some Christmas food in advance – for example gravy, stuffing or desserts – and freeze it. Advance preparation can help you spread the cost and also save money by making the most of temporary special offers.
Advance preparation also means less rushing around nearer Christmas, and avoids the last-minute supermarket frenzy and panic buying.
Tip 9 : Use supermarket vouchers and loyalty points
Let’s be honest, most of us ignore those supermarket vouchers that spew out of the till. But it’s always worth checking them as they can either help you save money or gain more loyalty points on your next purchase.
Loyalty points can really build up over time, and could knock a few pounds off your Christmas food bill. So do make the effort to make use of resources you may already have without realising.
Tip 10 : Try out cashback sites and apps
There are many cashback sites and shopping apps that can help you to save money on your food shopping. For example, you may be able to buy online through a cashback site or scan your shopping receipts into a shopping app then receive cashback in your Paypal account.
A few popular sites and apps to start with are:
We hope that the information in this article helps you to save money on hosting Christmas this year, and that you and your family have a wonderful time.
For more financial and lifestyle tips do visit us again here at Simple Fast Loans.