The holidays are a time of togetherness, a time for friends and family to catch up and enjoy each others' company. It's no wonder meals are a central focus of the holiday schedule which better way to get people together than over a delicious meal? But preparing the perfect holiday feast does not require a major investment. Careful planning and smart shopping can help you put together a memorable family meal without breaking your holiday budget. Here are a few simple tips to get you started.
There's no need to go over the top when it comes to planning your holiday meal Most of the staples (turkey, stuffing, vegetables, pie) are reliably inexpensive, especially when you prepare them yourself. Skip fancy hors doeuvres in favor of seasonal favorites, and complement your main dish with simple sides like fresh green beans or mashed potatoes. Simplifying your menu allows you to prepare a big, delicious meal without overspending.
2. Get everyone involved
The holidays are about spending time together, so why not start in the kitchen? Get friends and family involved in the cooking process, or have them bringing something with them a pie, a bottle of wine, or a simple side dish. This will not only alleviate the pressure on you to provide everything, but will also get others involved in the process, making the meal more special. If someone insists on a favorite dish (a specific kind of pie, or their favorite side dish), let them make it. Particularly with children, this tactic allows them to see the amount of work that goes into preparing the meal, and will help them appreciate what it means to sit down as a family over the holidays.
3. Shop smart
Instead of hitting the gourmet market, or head to your local big box store or grocer for the best deals on everything you need for your holiday meal. Discount clubs like Costco or Sam's Club have all kinds of holiday-appropriate goods, from food to spices to decor. Spending your money wisely will help your budget stretch further, keeping you in the black this holiday season. Also, keep in mind that Christmas is just around the corner, so stocking up at a discount or wholesale club may be ever more practical if you can get big ticket items like turkeys or hams in bulk, and save enough for your next holiday meal in the freezer. Not only will this help save money, but it will save a lot of time shopping as well.
4. Embrace the holiday spirit
It's easy to get carried away preparing for a big family holiday, particularly when trying to do it on a budget. But do not let the pressure get to you remember that the holidays are about family togetherness and celebrating friends. At the end of the day, the most important thing is that everyone is able to come together and share a special time with one another. Make that the priority, and little things like fancy appetizers or expensive desserts will not be missed.