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How to Host a Stress-free Holiday Meal on a Budget
Holiday hosting can be super-stressful — and expensive. This year, with prices soaring, breaking that budget on hosting can seem like a sure thing. Lucky for you, it’s not. Here are six ways you can host a stress-free and awesome holiday meal without draining your wallet.
Simplify your meal plan
It’s tempting to go all-out when hosting, but you and your guests will appreciate simplicity. No one wants to see you looking exhausted at the holiday meal, and if you serve a reasonably full meal, no one will miss the dishes that are more time-consuming to prepare. When planning your menu, keep the prep time and cost of each dish in mind. Going simple is a great way to keep stress, and expenses, to a minimum.
Plan your menu, your cooking and your shopping as early as possible to take advantage of sales. Check your local circulars and your favorite grocery apps during the weeks leading up to your event so you know what’s on sale each week.
Think out of the box
Get creative in how you source what you need for lower costs. You can purchase day-old bread from your local bakery to use for stuffing, trim greenery from your own yard to use as decor and consider using chicken for your entree instead of the more expensive (and traditional) turkey or ham.
Accept (and ask for) help
Hosting a holiday meal for a crowd is a big deal, but you don’t have to go it alone. Don’t turn down offers for help, or be afraid to ask your guests to chip in with the preparations. You’ll cross a task off your list with each offer while helping your guests feel more at home by assisting with the cooking and/or shopping. Your budget and stress levels will thank you.
Set up a smart buffet
If you’ll be serving buffet-style, set it up with your budget in mind. Place less-expensive items, like breads, crackers and veggies, at the front of the buffet to encourage guests to fill their plates with them first. Your sides, like cranberry sauce and mashed potatoes, can be set in the center, with the proteins in the back. Dividing the foods this way is economical and convenient for your guests as well.
Don’t forget me-time
The days are packed and the to-do lists may seem endless, but don’t forget to carve out time for yourself in all the busyness. It can be a 10-minute time-out in your bedroom with a cup of coffee or glass of wine, a quick solo walk around the block or a half-hour soak in the tub. Stay calm, and take some me-time!
Use the tips here to prep the perfect holiday meal without spending a bundle or spiking your stress levels. Happy hosting!
Your Turn: Are you hosting a holiday meal this season? Tell us how you plan to keep costs down in the comments.