To avoid Janu-worry, City Press asked celebrity chef Siba Mton­gana and fi­nan­cial jour­nal­ist Maya Fisher-French for tips on how to en­joy Christ­mas within a bud­get

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Christ­mas big spenders

The Nzama fam­ily from Nag­ina, west­ern Dur­ban, are big Christ­mas spenders. Their av­er­age bud­get for Christ­mas Day alone is R3 000. It sounds out­ra­geous, but when Wendy Nzama ex­plains where all the money goes, it’s un­der­stand­able.

The bulk of the Nza­mas’ Christ­mas bud­get is spent on food. The fam­ily be­lieves in cook­ing up a storm for Christ­mas. “Over the years we have not cooked the stan­dard rice, curry and sal­ads, but have opted for African cui­sine – chicken feet, but­ter­nut, samp, beans, sweet pota­toes, in­testines, ox­tail and steamed bread,” Nzama ex­plains.

But this year, the fam­ily is do­ing some­thing dif­fer­ent: they are go­ing gourmet. For the main course, it’s a choice be­tween leg of lamb, corned beef, ox tongue or Hong Kong chicken with rice, roasted veg­gies and baby pota­toes.

For dessert, the Nza­mas will be hav­ing brown­ies topped with hot cus­tard and stewed fruit or ice cream.

Nzama (33) says Christ­mas is a big deal for her fam­ily be­cause ev­ery­body comes to­gether at her grand­mother’s house in Nag­ina.

“My mother, fa­ther, aunts, un­cles and all our kids cel­e­brate Christ­mas at my gran’s place. All in all, we are look­ing at 13 fam­ily mem­bers, in­clud­ing chil­dren – and that’s not count­ing the neigh­bours,” she says.

Although more than half of the Christ­mas bud­get goes into food, some of it is spent on gifts for the fam­ily’s six chil­dren. Gifts are a big deal for them and they even use a stokvel to save for them. “We en­cour­age each child to save at least R40 from their al­lowance ev­ery month. By De­cem­ber they have about R500 each in the kitty,” says Nzama.

She es­ti­mates that with the gifts and all the ex­tras needed for Christ­mas, their to­tal bud­get is about R6 000. She ad­mits that this may be ex­ces­sive, but “Christ­mas is spe­cial to us be­cause it means a fam­ily day and it’s some­thing that hap­pens once a year”.

Mton­gana and Fisher-French’s rec­om­men­da­tions are still worth con­sid­er­ing, says Nzama.

“The tips make sense and they are doable. In these eco­nomic times, ev­ery cent counts.

“We will con­sider cut­ting down on hav­ing dif­fer­ent kinds of red meat and maybe just have leg of lamb and chicken, so that peo­ple have a choice. We will cer­tainly try to with­draw money and carry cash on the day we do our Christ­mas gro­cery shop­ping to avoid buy­ing things that were not on the list.”


Most of us have loads of left­overs the day af­ter Christ­mas and they can of­ten last for a few days. But if not used or eaten, the food goes to waste

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