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Saving on Holiday Hosting
Gifts are a major holiday expense in most households, but they are far from the only cost. Hosting -- from a family dinner to an open house for the neighbors – also can take a bite out of your budget. Consumer Reports offers some ways to spend less on holiday entertaining:
First, do your own cooking, rather than having the event catered or buying everything pre-made. Doing it yourself will save you a lot of money. Plus, you can find all kinds of fun and interesting recipes online. If you are uncertain of your culinary skills, try the recipes out ahead of time. And don’t overlook the presentation. You can make modest appetizers looks much more impressive by serving them attractively.
Also, don’t be shy about asking people to bring something. Most guests bring a hostess gift anyway, so they probably will be happy to know they are bringing something you can use. For example, if you are hosting Thanksgiving dinner for your family, you can cook the turkey and stuffing and let other people bring the side dishes, appetizers and desserts. If you are hosting friends, ask people to bring a holiday dish that they like or that represents their family traditions, and then serve everything potluck. You might have to spend a little time coordinating to make sure that not everyone brings dessert, for example. But you will spend a lot less money and save yourself a lot of time and stress.
Don’t buy a lot of expensive liquor that you might never use again. Instead, decide on a few beverage choices. For example, you might serve only beer and wine. Or you might decide to add a signature cocktail or two that you can make ahead of time. There are lots of great seasonal choices; just look online. When people ask what they can bring, suggest a bottle of wine. And be sure to have plenty of non-alcoholic choices available.
Be frugal with your decorating. Your house is probably already pretty festive, so don’t worry about getting a lot more for your party. Consider scattering inexpensive votive lights around your table (being careful to protect against fires), or collect some pinecones and fir boughs from outside. Check out inexpensive household goods stores for sale items.
The relax, sit down with your guests, and raise a toast to the most festive of seasons.