Worried about inflation? Try hosting a more frugal Christmas party

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Rising food prices might be causing you headaches, but some lifestyle gurus say inflation can inspire creativity for those looking to host a more frugal Christmas party this week. 

There are “multiple ways to save money” at yuletide gatherings, according to Amy Hannon, author of the recent book “Gather and Give: Sharing God’s Heart Through Everyday Hospitality.” 

Hosts can create centerpieces by placing grocery store flowers or fresh foliage from outdoors in repurposed glass bottles or jars, the Arkansas-based pastor’s wife said in an interview.

“For the food, serve a few pork tenderloins instead of a big beef cut. It’s delicious, easy to cook and very cost-efficient,” said Ms. Hannon, who owns a kitchen boutique shop.

She recommends serving simple side dishes like roasted potatoes or sauteed asparagus with salt, pepper and lemon juice.

For dessert, Ms. Hannon says baking a boxed cake or brownie mix and topping it with berries or homemade frosting can feed 9-12 people for $10.

The average cost of Christmas dinner for a small family has risen from $51.75 last year to $60.29 this year, according to retail data collector Datasembly. The company averaged the costs of 13 traditional foods, including turkey, ham, eggnog and biscuits.

Nationally, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the cost of food at home increased 12% last month from November 2021. The bureau’s latest Consumer Price Index found the cost of dairy rose by 16.4%, bread by 15.7%, ham by 7.8% and turkey by 12%.

But families can have a great holiday dinner party without turkey or ham, says lifestyle blogger Annie Diamond, who edits the website Most Lovely Things.

Ms. Diamond, a Connecticut-based mother of two grown children, said she and her husband of 33 years serve Allison Roman Shallot Pasta with crusty bread and a salad. That meal with two bottles of simple table wine comes in at under $100 for eight houseguests, she noted.

“Keep it simple and have friends contribute to the menu,” Ms. Diamond told The Times. “Remember that it’s really about getting together, not one person doing everything.”

She also suggests making 10 wreaths for about $5 with a few inexpensive glue guns, canvas ribbon from an art supply store, pinecones gathered outside and cardboard recycled from old boxes. People can bring extra glue guns and make wreaths together as a group activity, she noted.

“I find entertaining simply makes everyone more comfortable and relaxed,” Ms. Diamond said.

Another budget-friendly trick is to host a holiday brunch or dessert night rather than a full-service dinner, said Crystal Paine, founder of MoneySavingMom.com and author of “The Time-Saving Mom.”

She said offering a hot chocolate bar or breakfast foods, heating up apple cider and playing games should satisfy everyone without breaking the bank.

“This can still be just as special but will likely be much more affordable,” Ms. Paine said in an email. “You could even make it hands-on and do a Christmas cookie-decorating contest or Gingerbread house-making contest.”

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