Cooking Christmas dinner or lunch for the masses on Christmas Day can get very expensive and be extremely stressful.
This is one of the things I dislike the most about Christmas. It feels like I am spending most of the time in the kitchen cooking the food, cleaning up with dishes and serving drinks rather than enjoying the excitement of the kids and the time with family. If you ever feel like you are nothing more than the Christmas kitchen wench, then we have some pointers to help make the day more relaxing for everyone, including you!
Check out these pointers on how to plan Christmas dinner on a budget!
Set a Budget and Stick to It
How much can you afford to spend on one meal?
Start planning as soon as you can to set aside the funds you will need. You don’t need to spend a fortune to have a beautiful lunch. In saying that – you have to be realistic. You may want a five-star gourmet seafood buffet, but you might have to settle for roast pork and all the trimmings instead! Start with a firm figure of what you can afford to spend – and work your way backwards! Budgeting is all about compromise! Have a look through our Christmas recipes for some ideas on inexpensive but delicious Christmas meals.
Christmas Pot Luck Dinners
You shouldn’t feel like you have to supply all the food. If your family are coming to your house, ask them to bring a salad, a dessert or an appetizer. Every bit helps. Maybe even split the cost of the meat and provide the salads etc.
Bulk Up the Meal with Big Salads and Sides
If you can fill up your Christmas visitors with inexpensive nibbles, and provide a beautiful piece of meat with huge sides like Rice Salad or Bread Rolls and Mashed Potato – this is a guaranteed way to make the meal go a lot further. There are some delicious ways to serve up sides now, so they don’t need to be boring.
Think Outside the Square
Is Uncle Dave a fisherman? Get him to supply some fish or prawns. Aunty Sue used to own a catering business? See if you can borrow some platters or a couple of recipe books on catering to a larger group. Use your family and friends to your advantage! Don’t forget about things like extra chairs, tablecloths and glasses! Most people are only too happy to be able to help!
Christmas Wishing Wells
One of my friends does this with her rather large family and it seems to work very well. Each year, one family member is in charge of the shopping, cooking and hosting but on arrival for Christmas dinner, everyone puts a certain amount of money ($50 per family let’s say) into a Christmas jar put out for this very purpose. That way, everyone is contributing the costs. At the end of the day, the host has some extra money to put away for the next month or pay off the costs incurred.
Work with what you have
Sure, you don’t have matching speciality Christmas bowls and serving platters but who cares! Use what you have. Pick up a cheap green tablecloth and red napkins and create your own Christmas centrepieces by adding red food colouring to the water in a clear vase or by adding some white tissue paper to a bowl and placing a few Christmas tree ornaments in the middle. If you really love the idea of having matching Christmas platters and decorations, then put some money aside and shop in January when everything is at least 50 per cent off.
So, how do you plan your Christmas dinner?