A Frugal Feast: Entertaining for the Holidays

It’s a time of togetherness, of peace and goodwill, and it’s the time of year when many of us are getting together with our families and friends to celebrate. But don’t let party planning get your tinsel in a tangle, you can entertain or feed a houseful of guests without breaking the bank by planning ahead and getting creative in the kitchen.

Décor and More

Once the phone calls are made or the invitations are sent, get to work decorating. Some creative additions to your living room can be found in your backyard. A cut and trimmed bough of a pine or spruce tree tied with ribbon is a jolly welcome on the front door. For your table, branches from the local park can be easily spray-painted and arranged in a vase. Use dollar-store ornaments or photographs from Christmas past to add color to your centerpiece.

For sit-down meals, you can add a special touch with easy-to-make place cards. Simply glue wrapping paper scraps to the lined side of a note card, write your guest’s name and fold. Or, use pinecones to prop up your name cards. It’s special touches like this that make guests feel at home, in your home.

Eat, Drink and Be Merry

Forget about the heavy, traditional meals or intricate appetizers. Aside from the fact that your guests may already be sick of green beans and turkey, reinventing your holiday menu is an imaginative and budget-friendly alternative to the usual party fare. Say ‘Feliz Navidad’ with a taco bar. Ground beef or slow-cooked pork (just don’t tell Hank) is cost-effective and easy to make in the slow cooker. Add some bowls filled with salsa, sour cream and some shells.

What’s a holiday meal without something festive to drink, too? If you want to serve wine, you’re better off buying it by the case. Ask your local grocery store if they have any deals for large orders. Use that purchase to enliven your punch. Mix juice (cranberry or cherry, for instance), white wine and club soda in a bowl and serve with slices of lime for both color and taste.

Lastly, you can stay seasonable and reasonable and throw a “leftovers potluck.” Invite your guests to bring over whatever leftovers are taking up space in their fridge. From mix-matched six-packs to sugar cookies, your guests will be grateful to reclaim their counter tops while you’re able to feed your friends with some home-cooked goodness. It’s a win-win for everyone and a sure-fire way to land yourself on Santa’s nice list for next year.

Year-end savings are a great way to prepare your finances for the months ahead. For more savings advice, get in touch with your MCU personal finance officer. And, from all of us to all of you, we hope that your holidays are merry and bright!

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