SAN MATEO, Calif., Dec. 6, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — This holiday season, Americans are planning to spend $660 on gifts on average – which does not include the cost of holiday meals. Smart planning can help consumers keep a rein on additional spending, says Andrew Housser, co-founder and CEO of Freedom Debt Relief.
The cost of a holiday meal of turkey, stuffing, potatoes, rolls, vegetables and pie for 10 people is about $50 this year, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation. That does not include the cost of alcohol or other beverages. For consumers hosting multiple holiday gatherings through New Year’s Day, costs can quickly add up.
“For some people, especially those worried about debt, December can be a hard month,” says Housser. “Fortunately, there is time to evaluate budgets, do some planning, and make sure that the costs of holiday meals and get-togethers do not create – or add to – debt.”
Housser and his team at Freedom Debt Relief provide these six tips to help consumers manage the costs of holiday meals.
- Plan. Consumers who are just days away from a holiday gathering with little to nothing planned will be more likely to spend too much. Instead, decide on what meals you will host, and create a simple budget for the events. Include food, drink, decorations, serving dishes or utensils you may need, any travel, and even child care expense if that applies.
- Keep the food close to home. Save up to 15 percent by purchasing in-season seasonal vegetables such as pears, cranberries, oranges, beets, Brussels sprouts, squash, sweet potatoes, spinach, cauliflower and broccoli. If you are in the market for a turkey, ham or other meat, see if you can purchase one from a local farm (check a local natural foods market or visit www.localharvest.org to locate farmers).
- Take stock of your kitchen. Chances are good that you already have many grocery staples in your pantry. Before making a shopping list, check supplies of essentials such as flour, sugar, chicken stock, cooking oil and spices.
- Keep menus simple. Most get-togethers probably do not require multiple potato dishes, casseroles and desserts. Stick to tried-and-true basics to save time and money. Think carefully about whether you really need appetizers before the main meal.
- Use the china. Avoid buying plastic and paper ware, and you will reduce both cost and waste. If you are short on place settings, borrow, check thrift stores, or look online at sites such as Craigslist, eBay or Nextdoor. By using items that are colorful but not particularly holiday-themed, you will save, and be able to use the items throughout the year.
- Try a different type of celebration. You can slash costs by supplying the meat and asking others to bring side dishes and dessert. Consider a group gathering a day or two after the actual holiday. Perhaps the main holiday meal could include only immediate family members or close friends, with others invited for dessert and coffee. Create a new tradition by asking guests to bring a family favorite dish and the recipe as a parting gift. Or, make your tradition a post-meal dessert party, leaving the expensive main courses (and drinks) off the menu.
With some thoughtful planning, it’s possible to host gatherings families and friends will enjoy – without going overboard financially.