A Christmas miracle '“ the big dinner that doesn't break the bank

For many families, Christmas is one of the few times of the year when all loved ones are gathered around the table. But while it's great to get everyone together of course, those hosting a big gathering may be worried about the cost of having so many mouths to feed.

If you're hosting dinner for guests, you could ask them to help out by bringing drinks or a dish or two. Photograph: PA

With a few weeks still to go though, it’s not too late to start thinking ahead about ways to help cut the cost of the festive feast. Here are some tips from MyVoucherCodes.co.uk spokesman Anders Nilsson.

Make the most of bargains and yellow stickers

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Have a browse around the supermarkets to buy reduced items, particularly if you’re able to make use of items by putting them in the freezer so they’ll be available when you need them.

Plan buying any meat
in advance

In the run-up to Christmas, many people will be shopping for turkey, chicken, gammon and beef – potentially leaving some shoppers struggling to get the bird or joint they want. But if you’re planning to freeze your meat, you could buy it further in advance and potentially have your choice of what’s available, and buy in the sizes that you need. Just ensure you have the space in your freezer to store it. Another option could be to find out from your local butcher or supermarket if they will take orders in advance that you can collect closer to Christmas.

Consider alternatives
to turkey

While many people have a big, traditional turkey in mind when picturing their perfect Christmas, if you don’t think you’re going to eat your way through it all then an alternative option, such as a chicken, could work out less expensive (and easier to cook).

Get your hands dirty

Instead of buying pre-sliced veg and microwave veg packs, get stuck in – peel and chop your own potatoes, slice your own veg and only use what you need. If you’ve got all the family round, there will be more people available to help out. Likewise, don’t buy pre-made pigs in blankets, stuffing and all the other extras you like with your Christmas dinner. Buy the ingredients and spend a little time making them from scratch.

Only use what you need

It’s so easy to go overboard and cook enough to feed a small army at Christmas, but by doing this it’s likely that a lot of food will go to waste. If people are still hungry afterwards, there’s likely to be plenty of other snacks and food in the kitchen that they can tuck into.

Ask guests to bring a dish

If you’re entertaining others at your home for Christmas, you could ask guests to help out a bit by bringing drinks, crackers, or even preparing a dish or two if they live nearby. This may seem a more agreeable option for some, than asking guests to make contributions to the cost of Christmas dinner in cold, hard cash. Just be sure to decide ahead of time who’s preparing what dish, so you don’t end up with three bowls of roast potatoes and no veg.

Ahead of next Christmas, consider growing your own

Get a head-start on next year and start working on your own small vegetable patch. It doesn’t have to take up a lot of space in the garden, and you can grow all sorts of veg, some of which you may be able to freeze to keep for longer.