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Turducken taste on a Spam budget: Tips for a thrifty festive feast
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Turducken taste on a Spam budget: Tips for a thrifty festive feast

We can all agree that Christmas is a special time of year. Unfortunately hosting big Chrissy get-togethers can really make a dent in the bank balance. So, how can you keep your Chrissy hosting costs down, while making sure everyone’s glasses and bellies stay filled up?

Christmas is a magical time of year. Unfortunately, the magic of Christmas doesn’t extend to making a festive feast appear for free. Turduckens don’t come cheap, so depending on your creativity with Spam, catering on the 25th can give your bank account a real beating.

Before you resort to digging through the plum pudding to nick the pennies, check out our tips for low-cost Chrissy catering that involves zero tinned meats. Unless your rellos are into that, in which case you’ve literally got Christmas in the can.

Do a cupboard stocktake well before the day

You may already have many of the staples required for your spread, so don’t splurge on double-ups when you inevitably go panic shopping on the 24th without a list. A stocktake also gives you a chance to do a cupboard cleanout. Unless you were holding onto that Keating-era jar of Vegemite for sentimental reasons.

Buy wine as presents for your guests

Wine is made for sharing – with delicious food, friends and family, so chances are any wine you gift your loved ones will end up being quaffed with the meal you’ve slavishly, sorry lovingly, prepared for them. That’s less for you to supply on the day. Can’t spell wine without win!

Start new traditions

Who decided plum pudding is the only dessert allowed on Christmas Day? If you don’t want to break the budget, break tradition. There are a million easy yet impressive dessert ideas out there that cost diddly squat. Even the humble packet cake has come a long way.

Pot luck

Have every guest bring a dish. It’s a great way to divvy up costs and time-consuming cooking. Avoid staring down a table of eight pavlovas and no roast veggies by creating a Google spreadsheet of appetisers, desserts, drinks and trimmings each guest can assign themselves to. People will work to their strengths, so make sure your sister’s pastry chef boyfriend is invited and gun for a croquembouche.

The big freeze

This one’s really only helpful if you’re willing to sacrifice your freezer real estate in the weeks or months before the big feast. In the days leading up to Christmas, you can expect to pay top dollar for traditional meats and seafood. But if you’re organised, you can nab them when they’re on special and bung them in the freezer. Just remember to thaw them out in time or it’ll be prawn pops for lunch!

Take it slow

If you’re happy to shun tradition, give oven roasting a rest and slow cook your meats using a slow cooker or a kettle barbecue like a Weber. Make mouthwatering pulled pork or slow roasted lamb shoulder with minimal moolah and effort – the beauty of slow cooking is that it uses cheap cuts of meat and prep is ridiculously simple. The main ingredient is time, but it’s worth the wait.

Bar Humbug

When it comes to saving on the drinks bill, there are a couple of ways to come at it. If you’re not keen on the idea of asking your guests to BYO, you can still keep them watered without drying up your bank account. For the organised, it’s easy to start stockpiling alcoholic and soft drinks well ahead of time. Keep an eye out for specials and buy if you’ve got the space to store it.

On the day, consider making refreshing jugs of Sangria or a festive punch to stretch spirits and wine further. Serve Aperol spritzes to use up any open bottles of bubbles. These apéritifs make for delicious entrée cocktails that will set off your guests’ appetite for dinner.

So, there you have it. Armed with these handy hints, it’s totally possible to enjoy a festive knees-up on a budget the Grinch himself would be proud of. Cheers to that!