Around the holidays, I am usually too broke to even “pay attention”, let alone pay an enormous grocery bill, so I have a plan. Parts of the plan are not pretty, but you will save money!
1. Do not have your holiday dinner on the holiday.
(I see your eyes bulge, let me continue.) As a divorced parent of adult children, I already am used to the fact my children would not always be mine on the holiday. Now that they both have “significant others” the schedules become more complex. I have never felt it was a “do-or-die” that everyone in the family be present in my home on the “official” holiday. The only stipulation I made was that during the holiday season I would reserve a date for a family meal that everyone had to attend. (Doctor’s excuses sometimes accepted.)
Besides, do you know the discounts you can get on seasonal items the day after the holiday?
2. Buy whatever you can, the year before, at the “After-Holiday Sales.
Do I need to explain this means decorations, and non-foods? Do not buy your turkey for Thanksgiving 2008 on 11/23/07 just because it is “on sale”. It will not be pretty, or probably edible.
3. Make out a menu with a budget.
This will be the most laborious part of the process. If you wish, get one item from each of the dinner attendees that must be on the menu. (Make this subject to your own discretion.) My son always asks for lobster, until he starts catching his own, and we live in Texas, this item always is deleted.
Do not attempt to compete with the Golden Corral restaurant. You are just preparing one meal, the guests will eat again, somewhere else, trust me.
Regardless of your budget, do try to find a recipe you have never tried before just to spice it up a little. (No lobster, unless you have just inherited money!)
4. Clip coupons.
Even if you are not a normal coupon user, if you have access to coupons via a newspaper or magazine subscription, it is beneficial to clip coupons during the holidays. During the holidays regardless of our finances, lets face it; we buy things we normally do not buy. Stores usually have great sales on name brand holiday products, combine that fact with coupons and you can save money.
5. If someone offers to bring a dish, let them!
Just find out what they are bringing so you do not duplicate their offering.
6. After the meal, take a realistic look at the leftovers, and freeze whatever you know will not be consumed in the next three days. If it is something that does not freeze well be sure to offer your guests “doggie bags”.