When money is tight, entertaining out-of-town family for the holidays can be tough. For low income families, entertaining guests and relatives often come at the price of having to cut back in other areas, such as family groceries or gifts for the kids.
If your relatives or guests are better off financially than you, there’s nothing wrong in asking them for a little help when it comes to entertaining the crowd for the holidays. Help can be in the way of buying the turkey or ham, contributing a covered casserole dish, helping with the hot water bill, or covering the entertainment costs for special holiday events around town. If asking for help is not an option, here’s some other ways that holiday entertaining can be managed despite a low income budget.
Sign up for a free Christmas dinner box. If your income is so low that you don’t think you can feed out-of-town holiday guests (or your family), call the Salvation Army to see if they or some other charity are providing Christmas food boxes for the needy. These boxes usually contain enough food to feed a family of eight. It might not enough to feed the crowd you’ll be entertaining, but at least it will get you part of the way there.
Be modest in what you provide to eat. If the idea of getting a charity holiday meal bothers you, an alternate plan is just to be modest in what is served for Christmas dinner. Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes & gravy with a veggie on the side and pumpkin pie is really all that’s necessary for a nice holiday meal. If anyone complains, point them to the direction of the nearest grocery store.
Buy tableware for holiday entertaining at the dollar store. Most of us don’t have dishes for entertaining more than our immediate family. One cheap ~ and eco friendly ~ method of assembling enough holiday dinnerware is to purchase them at the dollar store. Buying ceramic dishes in a holiday print that can be washed and reused while your guests are in town is much cheaper than buying gobs of paper goods. The dollar store is also the place to go for cheap holiday themed napkins, paper cups, and tablecloths.
Thrifty decor. Even on a low income it’s possible to decorate the house for holiday entertaining out-of-town guests. Some of my favorite thrifty decorating items include
* Arranging evergreen boughs on the mantel
* Stringing up twinkle lights indoors (about $3 for a 100-ct bulb set)
* Paper snowflakes in the windows
* Displaying glass orbs in pretty jars and bowls
For a like bit of extra pizazz, I’ll hit the dollar stores for plastic poinsettias and crafting ribbon to add a splash of color to these decorations.
Find cheap about town entertainment. Most communities have a wide variety of fun and no-cost holiday entertainment that both residents and out of town guests will enjoy. Some cheap entertainment ideas that may work for your holiday guests might include:
* Tree lighting ceremonies
* Driving around to look at Christmas decorations and lights
* Visiting the public library for free story hour or free holiday movies
* Sledding or ice skating
* Walking around down town to see the window displays
* Visiting Santa at the mall
* Seeing a movie on 50 cent Tuesdays or rent a $1 video
* Making snow sculptures
Hang around the house and create your own memories. The best part of getting together with out-of-town guests is that each holiday brings a new opportunity for creating holiday memories. Instead of scheduling all sorts of holiday entertainment, use this opportunity to haul out old board games, watch holiday TV specials, decorate a tree outdoors, or whip up a bath of homemade cookies or caramel corn. Homespun holiday entertaining not only fits nicely into a low income budget, it’s often the most meaningful of all.
Related content by C Jeanne Heida:
Christmas Guests and Decorating the Guest Room Inexpensively
How to have a no cost Christmas