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    • nzmegs
    • By nzmegs 23rd Oct 09, 10:42 AM
    • 1,024Posts
    • 1,361Thanks
    Cheap Christmas Dinner?
    • #1
    • 23rd Oct 09, 10:42 AM
    Cheap Christmas Dinner? 23rd Oct 09 at 10:42 AM
    Once again this year xmas is rolling round and I am wondering how we are going to afford it. We have decided (the adults at least) to focus on the kids for the presents and to have a nice meal together.

    What I am wondering is how many ideas can we come up with to keep the meal costs down to a minimum. I don't mean having cheap and nasty food - but places to buy cheaper turkeys, stuff you can make yourself and avoid buying, stuff you can buy in advance etc. Anything anyone can think of to make it cheaper for our family.

    We have anywhere form 6-10 people coming plus kids....eek it is always a scary thought doing all that cooking!

    Lets see how many ideas we can come up with....
Page 1
  • Mrs Thrify
    • #2
    • 23rd Oct 09, 10:53 AM
    • #2
    • 23rd Oct 09, 10:53 AM
    Cheepest is to get invited to someone else's house.
    Next cheepest is to ask people to bring the starter or pud.
    That leaves you with just the roast turkey dinner. I would stack the plates with plenty of veg and cut back on the meat. Saying that I would try to buy a boned and rolled turkey and ham to put on my food slicer as it makes a little go a long way as the meat is thinly sliced.
    Decorations used are the ones comming down from the loft.
    With children I would set them a craft task like making all the party hats.
    In the sales which now start before Christmas I would buy the crackers etc for the table.
    If winter comes, can spring be far behind?
    Spring begins on 21st March.
  • tryingtoruletheworld
    • #3
    • 23rd Oct 09, 11:23 AM
    • #3
    • 23rd Oct 09, 11:23 AM
    We usually have roast beef/pork, much cheaper and tastier than turkey! (no one in my family is a big fan of turkey, and they are soooo expensive!)

    People really over-estimate the size of joint/turkey you need, lets face it, by the time you have loaded your plate with roast potatoes, stuffing, veg, pigs in blankets, yorkshire puddings, bread sauce and anything else you fancy, there isn't a lot of room for meat! And you need to leave room for the christmas pud!

    Also, if you like to fly by the seat of your pants you can get stuff reduced in M and S just before they close on christmas eve. But then the family might not be impressed if all you can get hold of is a seafood platter for dinner!
    • MrsBartolozzi
    • By MrsBartolozzi 23rd Oct 09, 11:23 AM
    • 6,209 Posts
    • 48,801 Thanks
    • #4
    • 23rd Oct 09, 11:23 AM
    • #4
    • 23rd Oct 09, 11:23 AM
    Does it have to be turkey?
    I only ask because for the last 4 years (might be more) we've not had turkey for xmas lunch. Last year, admittedly we had no guests, the boys (inc OH) wanted pizza - it's a celebratory meal so why not have what you like I suppose:rolleyes:. I had a lovely stuffed duck roast I got from Sains for almost nothing on xmas eve!

    It's only a game
    ~*~*~ We're only here to dream ~*~*~
  • fluffybunnies
    • #5
    • 23rd Oct 09, 11:57 AM
    • #5
    • 23rd Oct 09, 11:57 AM
    we almost always had chicken for our christmas roast- that was serving at least 7 people (more if grandparents/people from church were there)...but my Mum was always a bit stingy with the meat anyway....
  • valk_scot
    • #6
    • 23rd Oct 09, 1:19 PM
    • #6
    • 23rd Oct 09, 1:19 PM
    We usually have a big chicken plus two sorts of stuffing, pigs in blankets, roast spuds, Yorkshire pudding (my DD's favourite with any roast), roast carrots and parsnips, peas and sprouts. I can easily stretch that to eight people using a Extra Large chicken from M&S at about £9 and the rest doesn't add up to mega money, plus it's a lot tastier than most turkeys anyway.

    For starters I make a choice of soup or prawns + smoked salmon + veg crudites + brown bread and butter. For pud there's Xmas pud or nice ice cream.

    I bought the Xmas pud, crackers, gift wrap and cards in January, tbh, when they were all silly low prices. Sorry not much of a tip for this Christmas but keep it in mind for next!

    I find it's the extras that can push up the Christmas food budget so I do think twice if I really need them. None of us really like brandy butter or cream on our pud, just custard, so I don't buy them unless we've got guests and even then it will just be single pouring cream. I don't buy lots of nibbles or cheeses or even mince pies, because once again we won't really eat them. If guests are coming I'll knock up a batch of cheese straws or dip to eat with vegetable fingers and bread sticks. I buy or make some pastry for the freezer and usually have a jar of mincemeat somewhere so I'll make mincemeat pies if needed, otherwise I'll use it up later with no waste. None of us like Christmas cake much so I don't bother. We have wine and beer in the house, because that's what we drink, and that's what guests get offered. I don't feel the need to stock up with spirits or port or whatever on the offchance one single guest will like one glass of something that normally they wouldn't drink anyway.

    Makes me sound a bit mean with guests? Well, I think my guests get fed and watered pretty well...plenty of food and drink, but not the entire choice of what the TV ads say we need, no! Anyway I think folk get a bit sick of a couple of weeks of "traditional" fare. So if I have guests on Boxing Day they might get lasagne or curry, tbh, or something else we like and would eat normally anyway. It's the hospitality and sitting round the table to enjoy the company that really counts, not making it look like the M&S or Iceland Christmas food ads.
  • Olliebeak
    • #7
    • 23rd Oct 09, 1:28 PM
    • #7
    • 23rd Oct 09, 1:28 PM
    I usually buy a turkey but we don't always have it for Christmas Day. If it's just OH and myself, we've been known to have Minted Lamb Shanks, Beef Wellington, Haggis or even Cottage Pie - depending on what we decide on OR what whoopsies I come across in the weeks before Christmas. The Beef Wellington was whoopsied to £1.50 .

    The Turkey gets cooked on whatever day DD and dgk's come around for a meal.

    I have another 2 'family days' (one my family and one his family - too many for the house if we mixed it up!) where it's all buffet-style/help yourself.
  • ubamother
    • #8
    • 23rd Oct 09, 1:31 PM
    • #8
    • 23rd Oct 09, 1:31 PM
    I think that often its the Christmas Day "extras" that can inflate the cost - almost without you noticing. Things like nuts, chocolates, mints, sweeties, crackers, table decorations can easily cost as much, if not more, as the food.

    I agree with asking guests to bring something - if you're not comfortable with this for food, asking each guest to be in charge of something - after dinner chocolates, crackers, a liqueur, candles - often guests feel bad if they don't bring something and if you don't ask you might end up with endless bottles of red wine and bunches of flowers (which is obviously wonderful, but may not so helpful!!) If you are silly like me, pick a colour theme and ask them all to bring something in that colour - red crackers, red wine, red-wrapped sweeties - much more fun involving them this way than you feeling you can't afford to entertain them.

  • Olliebeak
    • #9
    • 23rd Oct 09, 1:37 PM
    • #9
    • 23rd Oct 09, 1:37 PM
    ...... Things like nuts, chocolates, mints, sweeties, crackers, table decorations can easily cost as much, if not more, as the food.........
    Originally posted by ubamother
    These are the things that I try to buy in from around August to November - usually get crackers, party plates etc in January if I can find them.

    I've had 'gold themed' decorations for about 10yrs now and just buy a few new ones every year - have to admit that I've had to gradually increase the size of my tree. Now on a 7ft one that only just fits in my bay window - so can't go any taller .
    Last edited by Olliebeak; 23-10-2009 at 11:00 PM.
    • Caterina
    • By Caterina 23rd Oct 09, 1:39 PM
    • 5,813 Posts
    • 40,381 Thanks
    Be adventurous, do the veggie thing, it saves a fortune (and a few lives too)!

    Re. Christmas tree, last year we used a lovely old dried apple tree branch and decorated it with stuff that we have collected over the years, including dried orange slices (look lovely when pierced at the top, with a ribbon through the hole as hoop).

    Our Christmas wreath is a metal ring that comes from my cooker (it is the old burned element) covered in foliage and kept together by red yarn and decorated by ribbons that I have saved over the years, from packets of sweets and other gifts.

    I think that if all the family is in agreement it is possible to do a very frugal, very fun Christmas.
    Last edited by Caterina; 23-10-2009 at 1:42 PM.
    Finally I'm an OAP and can travel free (in London at least!).
    • got-it-spend-it
    • By got-it-spend-it 23rd Oct 09, 1:49 PM
    • 4,981 Posts
    • 26,648 Thanks
    I agree that it is the extras rather than Christmas dinner itself that ends up being costly. Christmas dinner for us is masses of veggies (carrots, parsnips, peas, sweetcorn, cabbage), none of which are particularly expensive. We also have plenty of roast potatoes, home made yorkshires and some kind of veggie loaf- usually lentil. I appreciate that this isn't everyone's idea of a good Christmas dinner, but it always goes down well in our non-meat eating house! I admit I do buy a Christmas pud, but only a bog standard one so that's only a few pounds.

    For the extra nibbles, which seem to be what push the costs up, I always keep an eye on the cheapy Poundland/ 99p store type shops as you can often pick up some great treats. I also try and get things from about now, up until Christmas when they're on offer.

    I also make my own mince pies. Even if you were to buy the pastry and the mincemeat you get many more for your money than if you buy them.

    Nibble are also easy and cheap to make for Christmas tea or boxing day. I buy a slab of frozen puff pastry and add various cheese fillings with chutneys. Home made pizza dough is easy to make, and can be kept frozen until needed. You then just need to add some passata and grated cheese and it doesn't take much longer to make than baking ready made ones.
    Yummy mummy, runner, baker and procrastinator
    • tori.k
    • By tori.k 23rd Oct 09, 2:24 PM
    • 3,532 Posts
    • 9,451 Thanks
    Reading the food shopping thread they raved about Lidls turkey crown's, i cant comment as im veggie and to my shame always brought a pre cooked chicken christmas eve to do for the kids.
    i do second a food slicer i got one cheap of ebay and now cook up a couple of joints of meat and slice them for dinners/sarnies for the boys its saved me a bomb over the last 8 months.
    i dont know if you already get a sack of spuds but it works out alot cheaper then buying from the supermarket.
    also as someone else said ask everyone to bring a dish,my siblings and i now do this boxing day when we decend on mother, so she's not stuck in the kichen for hours playing the martyer
    • nzmegs
    • By nzmegs 23rd Oct 09, 4:20 PM
    • 1,024 Posts
    • 1,361 Thanks
    wow - you guys are brilliant thank you! I think sharing the load is a wonderful idea and I have just remembered I have a pile of paper plates in the cupboard. No washing up for me this year!

    Any ideas on alcohol? I guess stocking up over time from supermarkets is best and only buying what you liek to drink. Everyone else can either bring their own or lump it. I remember one year having to pop to a shop xmas eve becuse one member of our party wanted red wine - we hate it. I hate that feeling though when the face drops "oh have you got any red???" "no - but give me 20 minutes and I'll get some for you...." Won't be doing that again.
    • Toonie
    • By Toonie 23rd Oct 09, 5:23 PM
    • 734 Posts
    • 3,567 Thanks
    As far as drinks, I think the bringing your own is the best way to go about it, as that way you can't complain. That is what I always say to anyone coming over for any type of occasion. I do tend to have juice and lemonade on hand though for anyone who wants a soft drink.

    The Jus-Rol website has lots of suggestions for what you can make with pastry which can be useful if you are stuck for ideas for starters/nibbles
    • piglet6
    • By piglet6 23rd Oct 09, 5:36 PM
    • 1,508 Posts
    • 5,621 Thanks
    Sharing the load is definitely the best way (and I think it makes your guests feel better, too - everybody knows that hosting Christmas dinner is not cheap, so it takes away the guilt of knowing that you are costing your host a lot of money, and allows you to feel a bit more "equal"! ).

    We always have chicken, because none of us like turkey, so if there are lots of us, we just cook two chickens (and when we have had last minute extra guests in the past, we defrosted a couple of extra breasts from the freezer and cooked those, too - sliced them up and added them to the serving plate in the kitchen, and nobody was any the wiser). We keep an eye out in the weeks up to Christmas for yellow-stickered items and pop them in the freezer, and last year we actually bought 2 x M&S Dine in for £10 offers in November when they included large chickens and froze the chickens (and kept the sparkling wine!) for Christmas. I know M&S isn't always MSE, but overall, by careful choice of the biggest chickens (yes, I did go through the whole shelf to find the largest ones! ), we actually saved over £8 on each £10 deal, so felt that for a special occasion, it was justified!

    You can also keep an eye out for yellow stickered veg in the run up to Christmas and prep and freeze that, too.

    Crackers: we used to (pre-MSE ) spend more on crackers to get "nicer" gifts in them. Then we realised as we were clearing the table, that 9 times out of 10, people leave their gifts on the table anyway, so now we buy cheap (but pretty! ) ones with "rubbish-y" plastic gifts that amuse folks while they are at the table. If we want to, we then buy additional little "table gifts" which are chosen specifically for each person (you don't have to find something that fits in a cracker, and it often works out cheaper than the £5+ per cracker () that we used to spend on the ones with the "nice" gifts). Much more appreciated than that mini silver photo frame or bottle stopper that they didn't really want anyway!!

    Lastly, as many others have said, we don't really need all the extra food items that the supermarkets tell us we have to have. I always moaned that I put on a few pounds over Christmas (and couldn't work out why...). Then I realised that I manage to get through the other 11 months of the year without big tins of Roses/Celebrations, barrel tubs of mini cheddars/twiglets, enormous bags of peanuts ("yes, of course, we need to have salted and dry roasted..."! :rolleyes, and an endless stream of mince pies and sausage rolls (for those all-essential between-meal snacks! ) and I don't feel deprived, so why do I need them over Christmas? :confused: If you do want some of these things, then consider buying a smaller "normal" size packet/box - the special bigger packs produced for Christmas are much larger than we actually need...but we all fall for them (who hasn't ended up throwing half packs of leftover things away in January when the dreaded "New Year's diet" starts?! ).

    Merry Christmas!

    SW - 29½lbs lost in 2017...
    • jc2703
    • By jc2703 23rd Oct 09, 6:07 PM
    • 1,780 Posts
    • 12,926 Thanks
    Today Chickens are on offer in Asda for £2 each - buy two; freeze them; defrost and cook for xmas day (cook a bit longer so they are a bit dry!) smother them in gravy and call it Turkey ! Hey Presto Bob Cratchetts your Uncle ; Merry Christmas!!
  • MrsE

    Crackers: we used to (pre-MSE ) spend more on crackers to get "nicer" gifts in them. Then we realised as we were clearing the table, that 9 times out of 10, people leave their gifts on the table anyway, so now we buy cheap (but pretty! ) ones with "rubbish-y" plastic gifts that amuse folks while they are at the table. If we want to, we then buy additional little "table gifts" which are chosen specifically for each person (you don't have to find something that fits in a cracker, and it often works out cheaper than the £5+ per cracker () that we used to spend on the ones with the "nice" gifts). Much more appreciated than that mini silver photo frame or bottle stopper that they didn't really want anyway!!
    Originally posted by piglet6
    Even the most expensive crackers contain tat
    I always buy pretty ones in the sales & stick in the loft, but I never worry about the contents as they are all rubbish.

    They should do crackers with after dinner mints, at least they would be useful
    • Butterfly Brain
    • By Butterfly Brain 23rd Oct 09, 8:43 PM
    • 8,736 Posts
    • 61,001 Thanks
    Butterfly Brain
    I always buy my crackers in the sales as well. In fact I have been getting a few extras every week since the beginning of September.
    So now I have all the sweets, nuts and biscuits a lot of the soft drinks and mixers, 8 bottles of wine and a few Spirits I am going to have a go at making HM Tia Maria this year - I already make my own Baileys.
    I have only got 6 presents left to buy - I so love Amazon!
    This week I got some Gammon Steaks £1.99 for 2 in Aldi and I am just waiting for them to get their Turkeys in because they were the cheapest around last year.
    I prefer to make my own bruschetta, garlic bread, cheese straws, mince pies, pickles etc
    I make all of these the last week of November and freeze them ready for Christmas
    • slowandsteady
    • By slowandsteady 23rd Oct 09, 9:22 PM
    • 386 Posts
    • 3,289 Thanks
    great thread! I might be totally mean and cheap but this year i have decided to go to Mr M and get one of their whole turkey legs that cost the grand total of £3.29! I have two in the freezer at the moment, i will probably use just one and put it the slow cooker for a few hours and each time ive done that its come out beautiful, i also have a huge pork shoulder joint in the freezer which was half price also in Mr M and cost less than a fiver so depending on who comes i may cook that as well. I usually have to work xmas, being a nurse, but we usually end up at MIL at xmas and if not its usually just me dh and my dad if we are at mine. MIL sometimes goes to her partners family for the meal, personally i prefer to stay at home as i hate anything with cream in it and dislike sprouts and every year im coerced into eating trifle and sprouts and if im really unlucky mince pies! As you can tell we arent very traditional.

    For anyone who is interested though Mr T have frozen turkeys at half price at the moment and also whole salmon-i grabbed one yesterday, might be a good deal to get now if wanted and keep in freezer?
    • ChapelGirl
    • By ChapelGirl 23rd Oct 09, 9:43 PM
    • 137 Posts
    • 164 Thanks
    Why not get your kids to make their own Xmas crackers? Or do it yourself, if they are too busy on the Playstation!


    Then you can put a couple of wrapped after-dinner mints or whatever you fancy inside. Or you might find a funky keyring or a toy car or a bouncy ball or something in the pound shop. For the ladies, what about a small nail varnish, lipstick, chapstick or eyeshadow? All you have to worry about is whether it will fit in the cardboard tube and whether it is within your budget.

    Have fun looking up and writing out or typing corny jokes and mottoes from the internet to go inside. You could even personalise them for your chosen guests. Grandpa likes golf, so find a golf joke. Aunty Sarah goes to karate, so find a karate joke or a cartoon. If you do that, make sure you put their name or initials on the outside so you know where to put them on the table.

    Make your own crepe or tissue paper party hats to go inside. All you need is the paper, a bit of glue and a pair of scissors. Decorate with stick-on gold stars or whatever takes your fancy.

    Not only will your home-made crackers be a lot more fun for your guests they could work out a lot cheaper than shop-bought, or if not at least everyone will get a thoughtful gift instead of another plastic thimble which ends up in the bin.
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