Try these frugal holiday dinner ideas and shake things up a bit while saving money!
Holidays can be expensive. Hosting big family dinners can also be expensive. But they don’t have to be! Save yourself some time, money, and stress; try these frugal holiday dinner ideas this Thanksgiving and Christmas and have a great day with your family and friends, instead of stressing in the kitchen or over your budget.
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1. Have a themed holiday meal
Don’t think you have to eat the traditional turkey or ham dinner when the holidays roll around. Eat what you want! If you like spending all day cooking and look forward to it every year then, by all means, cook the bird and have the traditional meal, but you don’t have to. Why not have a different theme? You could do a taco bar, your own version of never-ending pasta, appetizers… Think outside the frozen poultry aisle and have some fun planning a frugal holiday dinner.
One fun thing to do would be to celebrate your heritage and try sampling dishes. Have Italian roots? Plan a taste of Italy! Irish? Whip up a stew, roast some potatoes… try a bread pudding. Irish Christmas meals aren’t that different from American turns out… Unless you’re in the mood for goose instead of turkey or ham. German? Try your hand at some apple and sausage stuffing (sounds interesting) or some Christmas Stollen. I’m really curious about that one now.
If you have French ancestors be sure to bring your appetite. You definitely have lots of menu options to choose from if you’re going the traditional holiday dinner route. Whether you go all out with the theme or keep it simple the point is to have fun with it!
2. Make it potluck for a truly frugal holiday dinner
I’m from the south and it’s just pretty standard to ask what you need to bring when you’re invited over to eat. If your guests offer to bring sides/salads/desserts, let them! Better yet coordinate it and say, sticking with this theme I will provide the main dish of (insert dish of choice). Heck, come up with a suggested menu for people and suggest/ ask them to bring something specific. It’s fun, frugal and a little different for Thanksgiving dinner.
You can create an event on Facebook, set up a meal on SignUpGenius, send out an evite… There are lots of different ways to organize a potluck. Just try to be sure it’s somewhat organized and everybody doesn’t show up with salad and rolls. Again, refer back to my first tip and keep the potluck meal more cohesive by establishing a theme ahead of time.
3. Make it a progressive dinner
Have a large group of people to get to and not a lot of space? It’ll take some coordination for sure, but make it a progressive dinner. Start a little early, and show up to one house for appetizers and conversation. Another house can host the next course. You may choose to have a soup course, salad course, main course, and final stop dessert and coffee (to stay awake after all that yummy food).
Just match the number of houses participating with the number of courses (or throw in a house you just play games and drink another coffee). End the night with a bonfire and smores. Make it fun and memorable by totally changing things up.
If you have small kids I would advise keeping the number of stops to a manageable number of stops to avoid some overwhelm. Or maybe have the kids stay at one house after say the main course while adults go on to the next for coffee and dessert. The kids can have a dessert and unwind without being drug off to another few stops. If they’re old enough maybe make it a slumber party.
Make the Holiday Yours with a New Tradition
Not only can starting a new tradition liven things up a little, if you use these frugal holiday dinner ideas it can also make it easier on everyone’s wallets, which is sure to be appreciated. Holidays should be about spending time with the ones you love creating memories. So switch it up and make some great ones!
What are your favorite non-traditional holiday dinner plans? Frugal doesn’t have to be any less fun. It can even mean having fewer dishes to wash! Who doesn’t love that?!