FRIENDS AND REL­A­TIVES COM­ING FOR THE HOL­I­DAYS

The long hol­i­days at Christ­mas­time af­fords a chance for rel­a­tives to come to­gether. It is a time to re­in­force the fa­mil­ial bond. And host­ing rel­a­tives for the Christmas hol­i­days are quite com­mon among Filipinos.

The Freeman - - OPINION - EDI­TOR: ARCHIE MODEQUILLO

It is, for in­stance, com­mon for Filipino homes in cities to host rel­a­tives from the ru­ral towns to spend Christmas with them. It’s of­ten the kids who are ea­ger to come to the city at Christmas, to wit­ness the grand cel­e­bra­tions there. And then the kids only re­turn home to be with their par­ents for the New Year.

Some­times it goes the other way around. Fam­i­lies from the city would want to spend their Christmas in the prov­ince. They want to ex­pe­ri­ence the less flam­boy­ant Christmas of the coun­try­side and, well, taste again the heir­loom fam­ily recipes at the home of a dear rel­a­tive.

But host­ing rel­a­tives can be rather stress­ful – and ex­pen­sive, as well, since hosts want every­one to eat well and be merry. Ac­cord­ing to Tif­fany Aliche, in an ar­ti­cle at www.money.us­news.com, it’s easy to get car­ried away and over­spend when host­ing rel­a­tives. At the same time, Aliche shares tips for manag­ing a tight bud­get this hol­i­day sea­son and still host a mem­o­rable fam­ily get-to­gether:

1. Cre­ate a hol­i­day itin­er­ary.

It’s of­ten the un­planned ac­tiv­i­ties, like an im­promptu trip to the movies, that drain your wal­let when fam­ily comes to visit. You’ll save big this hol­i­day if you can limit sur­prise ex­penses.

Sched­ule your hol­i­day itin­er­ary out play-by-play. For in­stance, plan meals for each day in or­der to avoid eat­ing out. If you do want to take your guests out for a spe­cial meal, scope out one or two af­ford­able restau­rants be­fore­hand. Then let your fam­ily choose from restau­rants you al­ready know are in your bud­get.

You can also plan fun ac­tiv­i­ties for each day of their visit. For ex­am­ple, you can stay home and rent a movie on nights to avoid ex­pen­sive con­ces­sion snacks, and then ven­ture out the next day to win­dow shop.

Even if you don’t fol­low your itin­er­ary, you’ll have bud­get-friendly ac­tiv­i­ties to fall back on through­out the hol­i­day to en­ter­tain your guests.

2. Prune your hol­i­day din­ner menu.

Choose your menu wisely to cut costs and make less com­pli­cated dishes with af­ford­able in­gre­di­ents that can feed a large group of peo­ple.

Of course, main cour­ses like tur­key and ham are where you can get the most bang for your buck. You can usu­ally find good deals at the su­per­mar­ket on both types of meats, since they’re hol­i­day sta­ples. For in­stance, one su­per­mar­ket may be of­fer­ing one free tur­key or ham if you spend a cer­tain amount us­ing your re­wards card (ex­act purchase re­quire­ments may vary in each store).

Search your lo­cal su­per­mar­ket an­nounce­ments in ad­vance for deals and bar­gains to plan your shop­ping trips around the sav­ings.

3. Bud­get for ev­ery ex­pense.

It’s com­mon knowl­edge that it’s easy to go over­board dur­ing the hol­i­days. But the last thing you want to do is overex­tend your­self and start the New Year with credit card debt. To avoid over­spend­ing, al­ways head to the store with a bud­get and a list of ev­ery­thing you need for the hol­i­day – and not just food.

Make room in your bud­get for tableware, decor, wine, beer and even toi­letries for fam­ily guests stay­ing over. You can find most of the party tableware, dé­cor and toi­letries at the stores nearby. You can also buy in bulk at ma­jor stores.

What about the wine, beer and other adult drinks? Typ­i­cally, there’s a dis­count for buy­ing large quan­ti­ties. Look for case spe­cials or call lo­cal dis­trib­u­tors for deals. Party drinks like punch or san­gria can be af­ford­able al­ter­na­tives to wine and beer. They’re also cheaper than in­di­vid­ual bot­tles and can last the en­tire night.

4. Trim the guest list.

Be re­al­is­tic after cre­at­ing your hol­i­day bud­get. If you find it so hard to ac­com­mo­date a rel­a­tive you haven’t seen in years, it’s okay to say no. If you don’t have the funds for a huge din­ner, be straight­for­ward with your guests.

Let them know you’re hav­ing an in­ti­mate af­fair for close fam­ily and a few friends. Send­ing out per­son­al­ized in­vi­ta­tions is an easy way to tell guests that your hol­i­day party is in­vite-only with­out of­fend­ing any­one.

5. Know when to ask for help.

If you have a huge group of close fam­ily and friends who you don’t want to cut from your guest list, you can al­ways host a potluck. You can take care of the main cour­ses, and then ask every­one to pre­pare a dish. Most guests are happy to chip in.

Plan the potluck so you’ll have a va­ri­ety of hors d’oeu­vres, side dishes and desserts to bal­ance out the hol­i­day din­ner. You can also ask guests to bring their drink of choice to the party. It will save you money, plus you’ll have a stocked bar at the end of the night for fu­ture gath­er­ings.

The hol­i­days are def­i­nitely a stress­ful time for party plan­ners. But if you shop in ad­vance, bud­get care­fully and cre­ate a de­tailed plan, you’ll en­joy the hol­i­days with­out break­ing the bank.

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