Entertaining family and friends does not have to drain the budget
The holiday season is all about gathering with friends and family to enjoy each other’s company, along with some holiday cheer. Unfortunately, at a time when your spending is already stretched to the brink, being the happy holiday host can be a budget buster.
According to BMO’s 2015 Holiday Outlook, people plan to spend on average $1607 on holiday related expenses. They have earmarked almost $240 for entertainment expenses, which is not much, when you consider the rising cost of food.
“When you are budgeting for the holidays, the lion’s share of your dollars goes towards gift buying. However many people forget to budget and to plan for the expenses that come with hosting over the holidays whether for a long-term stay, holiday party or even surprise visits,” says Jeff Schwartz.
“Not accounting for these expenses may mean adding debt that has already snowballed over the holiday season.”
Are you planning on hosting over the holidays? Here are some tips to keep your guests and your wallet happy:
Watch the clock
If you are planning a holiday get together aim for mid-day, rather than an evening soiree. People will eat and drink more in the evening then they will earlier in the afternoon.
Better yet- have an open house that runs between meal times and offer snacks and drinks rather than a full meal, cutting your hosting costs substantially.
Share the load
You’re gracious enough to open your doors to invite friends and family in to partake in holiday cheer- you don’t necessarily have to foot the entire bill yourself.
Make your event a pot luck. People are usually more than happy to be able to contribute something. Make it more fun by including a theme- guests love to bring one of their favourite dishes from when they were growing up.
Request that guests BYOB. Alcohol is a major cost centre when it comes to entertaining.
Holiday time also means a lot of unexpected guests dropping by to say hello. What are you going to feed them? Before you reach for the phone to order expensive take out, take some time now to plan for these surprise visits.
Put together some freezer meals that can be whipped out in a hurry on demand – casseroles, lasagnas, shepherd’s pie, and spaghetti sauce all work well.
And if no one shows up over the holidays, you’re stocked for a bunch of meals in January!
The long term visitor
Do you have family staying with you over the holidays? You’ve probably spent a lot of time deciding where everyone is going to sleep, but you’ll want to do some menu planning too. Account for breakfast, lunches, dinners and snacks. Get out that crock pot for some long term cooking, which will let you use less expensive cuts of meat. Or consider skipping meat altogether for a few less expensive meatless options.
Have you spent beyond your means over the holiday season? Are you worried about the debt that you’ve accumulated? We can help you devise a plan to get on top of it. Call one of our trained credit counsellors or check out our free online debt analysis tool to get started.