Thoughtful gifts and candy canes aren’t the only elements of the holidays. December is a month filled with hosts and hostesses stressing over every last detail for their family dinners. Anyone that has ever hosted a holiday get-together should be familiar with the tongue-swallowing bill that gets racked up. A few years of appetizers and beverages alone could put a child through college. For those determined to throw a successful Christmas, New Year’s, or Thanksgiving dinner without going broke- here you’ll find five helpful tips!
One of the simplest methods for controlling your holiday food costs is requesting dishes from guests. For every bottle of wine or side dish your friends or family bring along- you save cash! It is very important that you give some general guidelines to anyone that you make a request to. Warn them about any food allergies, unnecessary purchases, or undesirable dishes.
Don’t worry about appearing rude! As the host or hostess, the expenses will be primarily falling upon your household. Asking that your visitors pitch in is completely acceptable. If possible, request higher-end items to alleviate personal costs.
2. Don’t Pay Sticker Price
It’s easy to forget that sellers are humans too- not just faceless machines! Unless it’s a difficult to find ingredient for your dinner plans, never settle for the price tag! Having the confidence to make an offer can take the strain off your budget. Stretch those dollars as far as you can- you’ll need every stray cent for gifts! Whenever possible, do your shopping at privately-owned establishments so as to freely bargain.
3. Use Psychology
Holiday shopping can be a lot less expensive if you learn some simple tricks to stay a step ahead of retailers! When bargaining with the sales staff, attach something over seventy cents with your offer. This simple psychological tool gives the cosmetic impression of a better offer. Try not to counteroffer too quickly- it conveys an eagerness that sellers are liable to take advantage of. Keep your offers reasonable- a low-ball offer can leave a bitter seller that’s unwilling to negotiate with you.
The psychological tricks don’t stop after the shopping. Refrain from offering straws to guests at the party. Why? A straw allows the drinker to swiftly and easily empty their glass. In this way you can avoid the costs of constant refills and the chore of cleaning up dozens of discarded cups.
4. Generic Brands Are Your Friends
A name brand box might look great on a shelf, but by the time your party starts- that box has long since been fed to the garbage. It should go without saying, but by investing exclusively in generic brands you are able to severely cut down on expenses! Why pay for the label when your family can dine on food just as good without guilt? Remember- your guests are there to have a good time and putting you in the poorhouse is counterproductive.
5. Quantity Over Quality
While there are those that would chide this advice, the fact is, a feast’s worth of good food is better than a single platter of great food. When you are stretching every dollar, it doesn’t make sense to focus on purchasing the highest quality products. This principle also applies to what main course you serve.
While shrimp and crab cakes might be delicious- it takes literally hundreds of them to feed a lengthy guest list. In similar fashion, avoid trying to impress visitors with extravagant offerings. Caviar might make for a good talking point at any party, but that doesn’t make it the most delectable (or cost-effective) dish. Serve in bulk- go for inexpensive mass produced meals like spaghetti, chicken, chili, ravioli, soup, or anything else that can be strained. After all, it’s better to leave everyone full than a half-starving mob.