8 Simple Ways to Save Money on Christmas Dinner

If you’re hosting Christmas dinner this year, you might be wondering just how you’ll get through the holidays on budget.

While playing host around the holidays can put a huge strain on your finances — it doesn’t have to. A recent survey by The Penny Horder revealed their readers spend about $125 for a turkey dinner of around 10 people. But when writers at the website decided to put all their low cost ideas to the test they were able to feed a full-course, traditional turkey dinner to 12 people for just $85. There are inexpensive Christmas dinner ideas that will work for any budget!

Here are a few of our favourite budget tips for creating the picture perfect Christmas dinner without spending too much:

Think about skipping the turkey

1. Think about skipping the turkey

It might seem sacrilegious but, how attached are you to that turkey? All information points to the bird being the most expensive item on the table, with on average people spending slightly more than $22 on a 16-pound turkey. If you need a turkey — look for deals on a frozen one because a fresh turkey is expensive. But if you can sacrifice the turkey for chicken, a pork roast, a delicious lasagna, or even something creative like a paella, then you might find yourself banking a few extra dollars. Turkey might be traditional, but there’s no rule that says you can’t create new traditions at Christmas!

Shop at home

2. Shop at home

Before you head out the store, take a good inventory of what you have in your cupboards. You might be surprised to find that can of cranberry sauce from last year or a gravy package you haven’t used yet. Save yourself money by making sure you’re using all the ingredients you’ve already paid for!

Plan your meals in the week leading up to Christmas

3. Plan your meals in the week leading up to Christmas

Are there certain meals whose leftovers can be reused for a cheap Christmas dish? For example, if you normally serve Italian food as part of your Christmas spread, consider making pasta with some extra sauce the week before Christmas. Set aside the leftovers to use for your big Christmas feast!

Cut out expensive punches and soft drinks

4. Cut out expensive punches and soft drinks

One of the easiest places to cut from your Christmas dinner budget is the drinks! Maybe you’re used to finding a delicious punch recipe at Christmas, or maybe your family loves soft drinks. But these expenses can add up — almost without you noticing. A cheaper, and healthier, alternative is to go with flavoured waters. Add some orange slices, frozen cranberries, or cucumbers to your water and you’ve got a chic drink for the whole family for about $2.

TIP: You don’t need to be the bartender. If your guests want to indulge in adult beverages, provide a simple wine or two. But don’t feel the pressure to commit large portions of your budget to alcohol.

Use Smaller Plates

5. Use Smaller Plates

This one’s sneaky, but it works. Most people tend to overindulge themselves when it comes to holiday feasts and often much of the food that ends up on the plates of your guests gets scraped into the garbage — or just ends up making everyone feel way, way too full. Cut the waste out by providing smaller plates. It’s unlikely anyone will notice and you’ll have more to go around!

Make it a Potluck

6. Make it a Potluck

You might be one of those hosts who loves to do it all, but having everyone add something to the meal goes a long way in helping you host Christmas dinner on a budget. Have guests contribute appetizers, salads, or even special side dishes to bring the costs down.

Befriend the Dollar Store

7. Befriend the Dollar Store

Don’t be afraid to go off-brand or to the dollar store for most of your purchases! Many canned goods can be found at the dollar store for way less cheap as well as napkins and extra essentials that hosting requires like toilet paper, dish soap and decorations. No one will notice that you didn’t spend double the price on specialty napkins.

Remember: Enough is Good Enough

8. Remember: Enough is Good Enough

You may want to provide an abundance of everything — five kinds of cheese for the appetizer, three different bread choices, two salads – but the reality is that just one choice of everything is good enough. Skip the perfectionist compulsions and just focus on creating a meal that brings family together to create memories. Big family dinners are about celebrating all of your blessings — some years there are an abundance and some years there aren’t. Choosing not to focus on impressing and instead on being together with help guide your choices as you choose to create Christmas dinner on a budget.

Jolene Latimer