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Tips and Tricks for Holiday Meals & Gatherings without Breaking the Bank!

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The countdown has officially begun in our home and with just 10 days left until the big day, we are starting to pull some cost-effective ideas together for our upcoming 2 straight days of overeating meals.  After spending so much on Christmas thus far, it seems only natural to try and cut corners where we can.  Whether you’ve planned an elaborate feast that will allow little room on the table for your guests to eat, or an intimate gathering with just a few items, the following tips and tricks will help you keep your costs down and maybe even save you a little time in the process!

- Appetizers all the way…or none at all. Appetizers can be a great idea or a bad idea, dependent upon your plan.  Unless your making all of your appetizers from scratch, an appetizer mixer before the meal may not be such a great idea for those on a budget.  This is one area where you can really cut costs and no one will really notice after seeing the elaborate menu that you already have planned..I promise!  If you just love your appetizers and can’t live without them, then consider an appetizer only gathering.  Our appetizer only gathering is something that happens every year on Christmas Eve and it’s one gathering that no one wants to miss!  What’s better than filling up on 15 different tasty treats that are sure to increase the size of your waist line?

- Clip those Coupons! If your a follower of frugal blogs, it will come as no surprise that when your armed with a purse full of coupons and you combine them with in-store sales, you can save a bundle and even score a number of your groceries for FREE!  Frugal bloggers have made it their mission to “doing the work” for you, and with a few minutes of time spent reading these money saving posts, you can head to the store with a plan to get $100 worth of groceries for about $50!  Play your cards right and you can even do much better than that.

- Gather before the gathering. No, not really.  But, consider gathering the family before the big day and asking everyone to bring just one dish.  We have multiple gatherings each holiday and the hosts will ask everyone to bring their favorite dessert or drink.  With just a few quick phone calls or emails, you can eliminate a large chunk of your cost. I love this idea, because I know if all else fails, there will be something there I’ll like and I feel better knowing that I contributed to the cause.

- Forget Dinner! Yes, really.  Dinners can be costly and you may want to consider a breakfast or brunch for your big holiday meal!  Breakfast items are much more cost-effective and once you’ve all eaten to your hearts content, you can enjoy the rest of your day!

What you CANNOT do… Don’t Even Think about Cutting Corners in the portion department.  There’s nothing worse than showing up to a gathering with your stomach and your palette set, only to find out that grandma and aunt Bertha forgot to leave you your favorite stuffing!  Focus on making less side dishes and ensure that there is plenty to go around.  When it comes to holiday meals and gatherings, throw out the idea that less is always more.  During the holidays, more will make sure your party goes off without a hitch!

If all else fails...send your husband to the store and have him shred the recipet before you see it!  Out of sight, out of mind, right? For more holiday tips and tricks or to share secrets with other moms, visit clubmum.net.

Happy Holidays!

Disclaimer: I was asked by ConAgra foods to discuss the above topic and was compensated for my time.

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3 Comments

  • Reply Crystal @ Simply Being Mommy December 16, 2010 at 2:37 pm

    I think having an assortment of appetizers is a fabulous idea. I’d rather have 15 things to choose from than a dinner…ya know.

  • Reply Beeb Ashcroft December 16, 2010 at 4:32 pm

    Great tips! I agree, don’t skimp on the portions – I always make way more than I need, because you don’t want guests going hungry. That’s where cheap staples will help – think potatoes, pasta, baked goods, and things you can make in large quantities for little money.

  • Reply Virginia from Lady V dZine December 17, 2010 at 9:28 pm

    We just had our “gather before the gathering” meeting yesterday, and everyone was assigned what to bring. It will really go a long way toward saving time, money, and stress for all of us!
    Virginia from Lady V dZine´s last blog post ..Winners- 12-09-10 to 12-17-10

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