One of my most memorable holiday dinners was Easter of 2013, when we were living in Alaska. The building we lived in was occupied solely by my husband's hockey team, giving it a very "dorm-like" feel. Like us, the majority of the team was also thousands of miles away from their families, which led us to celebrate many milestones, holidays, etc. together.
With the guys out of town the week leading up to Easter, one of the other girls and I took it upon ourselves to treat everyone to a great Easter dinner. We collected $10 from every person that planned on attending, which set our budget. With a list and calculator in hand, we set off to Costco to bring our vision to reality. Surprisingly, we were able to stay on budget, only going over by a few dollars to splurge on a few extra bottles of wine. In the end, the meal was a hit, and all 20+ guys walked away full and happy.
Whether its Canadian thanksgiving, American thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, or a holiday in between, hosting a large dinner should not break the bank. Here are 5 tips for hosting on a budget.
Tips for Hosting on a Budget
Plan a menu.
Once you know the number of people that will be attending dinner, and their likes and dislikes, plan a menu accordingly. If you have some picky eaters, now might not be the time to whip up that new recipe you've been dying to try. Use an online meal calculator to figure out just how much food you need based not the number of people. If you're cooking a turkey this holiday, there are many resources available online to be sure what size you'll need for the number of mouths you're feeding.
Stretch your dollars.
Plan a menu that takes advantage of ingredients already in your pantry and fridge, or menu items that use similar ingredients. Before you go shopping, check grocery store flyers for sales and promotions and always, always, always go with a list so that you don't go overboard. If possible, buy generic instead of name brand and use loyalty rewards points toward your final bill.
Cook from scratch.
When time is limited, it may be tempting to pick up pre-made items, but in the long run, they will just end up costing your more and chances are, they are less healthy than cooking from scratch.
Don't go overboard with the decor.
Focus on the meal. Chances are, people are going to remember the meal more than your centrepiece. If you do want to spruce up the atmosphere, purchase decor from the dollar store, reuse what you already have or take inspiration from the outdoors with natural evergreen clippings, twigs or fall leaves.
Make it a potluck.
If you're feeling overwhelmed due to lack of time to prepare a large meal, or even the cost of preparing a large meal, don't be afraid to ask your guests to bring certain items. Let guests bring dishes they enjoy making. This is also a great way to start new traditions.
Do you have any tips or tricks for hosting on a budget?