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7 Ways To Cut the Cost of Christmas Dinner

December 9th, 2013 · No Comments · Consumer Debt

by Kristy Welsh

(Last Updated On: February 26, 2018)

The bigger the group of family and friends you host for Christmas dinner, the more fun a potluck Christmas dinner can be.

It’s tempting to shake your head at such a notion, convinced there is no feel-good way of cutting the cost of Christmas dinner. But what you’ll likely find is that these ideas either do little (if anything) to change Christmas dinner as you know it, or the change is a fun, welcome one.

1) Clip coupons.

This is an oldie-but-a-goodie that never goes out of style:

  • Pick up a Sunday newspaper every week between now and the big day. Be on the lookout for the ingredients on your list, but also be open to items that could make great substitutions, as well as brands different from the ones you usually buy.
  • Look online. Check sites devoted to couponing in general, as well as the websites of your favorite brands.
  • Look in-store. On every trip to the market between now and Christmas, be on the lookout for those automated dispensers handing out coupons in the aisles.

2) Buy generic.

While some generic food items are closer to brand name quality than others, the difference among them, in general, is pretty negligible. And that’s a small price to pay for all that you stand to save substituting brand names with generic.

3) Start from scratch.

If you’re in the habit of buying ready-made foods for Christmas dinner, consider making more from scratch. That said, do the math first. If you don’t already have some of the of ingredients, it could end up costing you just as much (if not more) in the long run. Breads, rolls, pies, cakes, cookies and other baked items are pretty safe bets, though, since all of them use so many of the same ingredients.

4) Minimize your menu.

Some Christmas dinner dishes aren’t as popular as others, yet we continue making them year after year for tradition’s sake. If there’s something on the menu that you always tend to have way too much of, consider cutting the recipe in half, or eliminating it altogether. If you’re worried there’s someone who will be disappointed, ask around. You may find that the dish won’t be missed that much, if at all.

5) Try something non-traditional.

If you’ve never tried it, join the club. Families opt out of the traditional Christmas dinner all the time, especially if they had essentially the same meal for Thanksgiving. You’re likely to save considerably with this idea, provided you keep it simple. The trick is to make one big main dish with just a couple of sides, like chili and cornbread; pasta and salad; or enchiladas, beans, and rice.

6) Plan a potluck.

The bigger the group of family and friends you host for Christmas dinner, the more fun a potluck Christmas dinner can be. There are a few different ways to go:

  • Ask each guest to bring a specific dish.
  • Ask each guest to bring a specific category of food.
  • Ask each guest to bring their favorite traditional Christmas dish.

7) Organize a progressive Christmas dinner.

If you live in close proximity to the family and friends who usually gather, try sharing the hosting responsibilities this year. For instance, one household could host the appetizers, one household could host the main course, and one household could host dessert. In addition to cutting costs, this progressive approach lengthens, and enhances, the Christmas dinner experience.


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