'Tis the season for friends, family, food, parties, and yes, spending lots of money. It may not be easy to cut down on splurging on gifts for loved ones, but it is possible to throw a great holiday party with tons of tasty treats on a limited budget.
To start, here are some general money-saving ideas to think about when planning your next party:
-If you're serving alcohol, consider serving punches or whipping up a cocktail in a large pitcher. Punch bowls look festive and are less expensive and time-consuming than setting up a full bar for individual mixed drinks.
-Buy fresh fruits and vegetables that are in season. That means no tomatoes in winter.
-Buy generic brands whenever possible. Unless the name brand is significantly on sale, the generic brand is usually much cheaper and basically indistinguishable from the name brand.
-Start planning early and look for sales. A few weeks before your party keep your eyes open for the non-perishable ingredients you need. It will give you time to wait for the sales, rather than being forced to buy something at full price last minute.
No-Pigs in a Blanket
2 packages of pre-made crescent rolls
2 packages of veggie dogs
Poppy seeds (optional)
Money saving tip: Buy store brand crescent rolls, if possible, rather than Pillsbury. Or for an even cheaper alternative, make a pie crust yourself. You can find a really easy and delicious pastry crust recipe from Better Homes and Gardens.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Roll each of the veggie dogs into one crescent roll. Place each uncooked veggie dog in a blanket onto an ungreased cooking sheet. Sprinkle with poppy seeds, if desired.
Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until puffed and golden.
Slice each pastry-wrapped veggie dog in half and serve warm with a dipping sauce. Spicy mustard is a good choice.
Adapted from a recipe from Country Living
1 cup corn kernels
4-8 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
2 teaspoon salt
Money saving tip: Buy store brand kernels and vegetable oil.
In a large pot, pop corn kernels in 4 tablespoons vegetable oil, or pop corn kernels without the oil in a popcorn maker.
Transfer popcorn to a large bowl; drizzle with 4 tablespoons vegetable oil, then toss with paprika, and salt.
1/2 lb. unblanched almonds
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
Money saving tip: You can substitute walnuts, pecans, peanuts, whatever is cheapest. Sugar coating any of these will be delicious.
Boil together almonds, sugar, and water until syrupy and then sugary. Remove from heat until set. Return until sugar begins to melt again. Remove and pour onto slab or teflon sheet. Separate the almonds to prevent clumping.
Note: you can also throw in a bit of cinnamon and nutmeg for that Christmasy taste.
Warm Bourbon Apple Cider
Recipe from Country Living
1 gallon (16 cups) fresh apple cider
5 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
2 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
3 cups bourbon
In a stockpot, heat apple cider, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger.
When mixture is hot but not boiling, remove from heat and add bourbon. Stir to distribute spices and divide cider among 20 mugs.
Recipe from Country Living
6 cups ruby-red grapefruit juice
2 cups pineapple juice
1/2 cup liquid sweetener (such as agave nectar)
4 cups bourbon
2 cups cold seltzer water
Money saving tip: Buy the juices in concentrate form, and store brand if possible. Also buy the store brand's seltzer water. It's cheaper and you can't tell the difference.
In a large container, whisk together grapefruit juice, pineapple juice, sweetener, and bourbon until combined.
Before guests arrive, pour mixture into a punch bowl and gently stir in seltzer water.
Recipe from delish.com
6 cups sugar
2 cups grapefruit juice
6 cans (light-colored) beer, chilled
Zest lemons and set aside.
Combine the sugar with water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. When the sugar has dissolved, add the zest and let the mixture sit for 15 minutes. Strain the mixture into a pitcher, throwing out the zest.
Juice the peeled lemons into the pitcher and add the grapefruit juice. Stir well.
Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Pour in the punch bowl and add the beer.