Cost-cutting food prep
Splenda (www.splenda.com) offers these tips for stress-free, easy on your budget holiday cooking and baking:
- Be organized and plan ahead. Sit down for 30 minutes and think through all the aspects of your party. Make shopping lists and create to-do lists. By creating a successful routine and sticking to it you will avoid impulse purchases
- Accept help from family and friends. Organize your tasks and when a friend or family member asks what they can do to help in preparation of a party or meal – let them be responsible for a project or dish.
- Prepare foods ahead of time that can be warmed. Many appetizers, entrees and desserts can be pre-made, which will save you time and stress.
- Simplify holiday beverage offerings to include coffee and apple cider as after-dinner drinks. Add a tray with creamer, SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener and cinnamon to allow guests to customize.
- Use those holiday leftovers. Make a great appetizer spread – little tea sandwiches with turkey or ham are always a hit.
Budget Friendly Decorations
NYC-based event planner Cathy Riva (www.rivaevents.com) offers these tips for stress-free holiday entertaining:
- Use materials you have around the house. There is no need to run out and purchase decorations. Get creative and use what you’ve got. This year’s trends include neutral and wood tones with items such as pine cones and pine needles. Consider incorporating these into the centerpiece you create.
- Instead of involving kids with polishing the silver or something mundane, offer them a chance to own a project, such as setting the table or making homemade centerpieces. When guests arrive, highlight your children’s work so they feel appreciated.
- Now is the time to recycle. Get rid of old holiday cards you have been saving for years, but use them in a special way. Cut place cards out of them so you will have one white side and one side with your card décor. You can also use scraps of gift-wrap to make place cards too.
- Lisa Reynolds, RedPlum’s Mom Saver-in-Chief, recommends borrowing from friends. Instead of buying enough place settings for your party, borrow extra plates from parents or a friend. In need of a specialty serving dish? Ask if anyone you know has one.
- Create a pleasing aroma without the expensive potpourri. Put a pot of water on the stove and add cinnamon, lemon, orange rinds or ginger. Simmer on low heat throughout the day, suggests Reynolds.
- Wedding and event consultant Cheryl Jablow of Social Frog Designs suggests using candles of all sizes or colors to add elegance and a festive look and feel to a home. For safety, place candles in glass containers such as drinking glasses, flower vases, or even glass jars and keep them out of reach from children. Fill larger containers with holiday ornaments, balls, or pinecones.
- Add a bit of texture and additional color by gathering small branches and twigs that have fallen to the ground or ask your local Christmas tree selling stand if you can have, free or at a small price, loose evergreen branches and scatter them around the base of your glass containers, suggests Jablow.