Brittany D. McClure
The Valdosta Daily Times
We’re in the final countdown, budgeteers! In just 10 days, Christmas will be here and for those matriarchs (or cooking patriarchs) of the house, you know what that means ... Christmas dinner! Yes, while everyone is sleeping off their 5 a.m. present opening frenzy, you get stuck slaving away in the kitchen.
To add insult to injury, your feast is quite pricey, which is the last thing you need after buying useless presents that will be forgotten about and tossed in less than a year’s time. No worries though, I have all the tips you need to make your Christmas dinner cheaper and more “budgeteery” (which basically means awesome).
1. Ham or turkey? That is the question.
It’s pretty difficult to find a way to make the centerpiece of your dinner cheaper. Most people eat ham on Christmas, but lucky for you, I’m always looking out for you. Until Dec. 18, Publix is selling Publix premium semi-boneless ham halfs for just $1.69 per pound. Harvey’s has Lee’s or Carolina Pride smoked hams for just $1.29 per pound. If you’re looking to throw a salute to Thanksgiving, Harvey’s also has Jennie-O turkeys for just 99 cents per pound.
2. Don’t desert the desserts.
After the craziness of trying to prepare an entire dinner, a lot of cooks opt for store-bought desserts. This, of course, gets really pricey. However, even when you try to cook a fancy dessert on your own, all the ingredients can really add up. That’s why these sugar cookies are the best solution for those of you on a budget not willing to sacrifice good taste! For just under $4, you can buy an entire roll of Pillsbury sugar cookie dough. Roll it out and use Christmas cookie cutters. Bake them and leave them blank. When your guests come over, set them at a table and let them decorate their own cookies! The frosting is the best and easiest part: a little powdered sugar mixed with a drop of vanilla extract and some food coloring. Make separate bowls for separate colors. It solves your dessert and your entertainment problems.
If you’re cooking the dinner, there is no reason you should also have to supply the spirits. Have guests bring their own drinks, and even if you’re not alcohol drinkers, have guests bring two-liters of different sodas and jugs of tea.
4. Borrow vs. Buy.
If you don’t have enough plates and cups for everyone, don’t feel the need to buy more. A lot of people opt for paper plates and plastic cups thinking this is an economical option, but in fact, there is a way for you to get everything you need for free ... That’s right, free! If you have friends and family that are going elsewhere for the holidays, ask them to borrow dishes and silverware. Napkins, cups, plates, utensils, etc., are the little things we often forget about when planning a budget, use this saved money to help fund your side dishes.
5. Don’t pre-plan your menu.
I know, you probably think this is a typo considering how much I harp about never shopping without a list. The truth is, when you’re shopping for singular, big dinners, it is better to just wing it at the store. Make your menu according to the vegetables and other sides that are on sale. You are going to get the best value this way. Sure, your shopping trip may take a little longer, but ultimately, it’s a sacrifice we budgeteers often have to make.
6. The unconventional tip.
If your goal is to have everyone together and not to have the world’s most glorious dinner, then this tip is for you. Cook an untraditional Christmas dinner. Whether that means cooking spaghetti (which is always delicious) or even ordering pizzas for your house of 20, Christmas is about family and friends. You never know, Christmas pizza may become your family’s newest tradition.
Those are all the tips I have for you this week, budgeteers. Keep an eye for next Sunday’s article when I will tell you how to hit those after-Christmas sales. Be sure to like me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BrittanyDenneyMcClure and follow me on Twitter @BudgetBrittany.