Entertaining is difficult in economic times like these. It isn't that we don't have the same impulse to shower friends and family with treats, and to host them at celebrations, but for most, our means are not what they might have been in years past. And for those fortunate enough to not have financial woes, extravagant spending for the holidays seems somehow callous and inappropriate.
But how to not lose the festive spirit?
Here are some of my favorite frugal ways to celebrate the times.
Snack #3 Celebrate on a budget
For parties, go pot luck! Maybe a couple of years ago you could afford to provide food and drink for all 50 of your nearest and dearest, but that is not the current reality. If you love to host, open your home and announce that you will provide non-alcoholic beverages, and the centerpiece of the buffet (a turkey or a ham or even hearty stew or soup). Then ask that your guests bring whatever tipple they want to drink and a dish to share.
You can pick a theme, everyone bring their best family recipe, or have a chili cook off or a pie contest. Or just ask people to let you know what type of dish they are bringing so that when the third person says "brownies" you can gently suggest chips and salsa or a salad instead.
Even better, ask people to print out enough copies of the recipe for their potluck item so that everyone can take home a stack of new noshes for their files! (this also encourages people to think about their best dishes and ups the ante a bit)
In terms of beverages, a big pot of hot apple cider, and some chilled sparkling water are good places to start. Regular Coke, maybe splurging on the adorable small glass bottles, Tonic water and ginger ale, and lemons and limes will really be all you need.
Having said that, one of the best investments you can make for parties is the Soda Stream carbonated beverage maker.
The cost of mixers and pop for one party will pretty much pay for the machine, and you won't have quater-used two liter bottles going flat in your fridge, or throw away half full cans of pop. You make the fizzy water, everyone can add the syrup of their choice. They have tonic, regular and diet, as well as 38 other flavors. This is a savings machine that feels like a splurge.
Yours in Good Taste,