BOSTON (CBS) – When you are budgeting for this holiday, don’t forget the money you spend on holiday food.

We plan for the big things like presents and travel but forget the special food and drinks we purchase for the holidays. Whether it’s a party you are having or serving Christmas dinner consider doing it cheaper.

A Party:  The easiest thing is to make it a potluck affair. Put potluck on the invitation. And when someone responds and asks what they can bring; tell them. And keep a list of what people are bringing so you don’t end up with all desserts.

Wine:  If someone brings an expensive bottle, open it. Then haul out the less expensive stuff and put it in a carafe. Two Buck Chuck which you can get at Trader Joe’s for more than $2 is a great second or third bottle to open.

Think about using boxed wines which also give you a lot of bang for your buck and more wineries are producing them. Plus there are many imported wines from Australia and South America with funky names. Just remember to take off the price tags before serving. Remember after the first glass or two, most guests cannot tell the difference.

Christmas Dinner:  Start thinking now about how to make it less expensive. Start by checking the flyers or websites. Cooking it yourself is still cheaper than ordering a ready-made dinner from the grocery store.

The grocery stores will have sales on ham, roast beef and turkey. The easiest meal to prepare is ham. They come pre-cooked and all you have to do is heat it up. Some even come pre-sliced. And if your group is small you can get a small ham.

Consider making the desserts yourself. Bakery pies are going for $17 and cookies are a $1 apiece. Make the cookies a family project this weekend and make enough to eat and freeze. As for pies, buy the pre-made crust and add the filling. Apple, blueberry, pumpkin or cherry. And cover any mistakes with ice cream!

Centerpieces for the table do not have to be expensive. Wrap some small boxes and add bows and you have an instant centerpiece.  Save those branches you cut off the tree and put them in the center with some candles.

Use coupons. Grocers want you in the stores and sales and coupons are how they get people in the door. Check out the Sunday paper but also go to and I found coupons for all of the Pillsbury products (rolls, biscuits, cookies, flour, pie crust).

One more thing:  My Martha Stewart tip for the day: Christmas morning is usually very hectic. Make muffins and Christmas breads this week and freeze.


You can hear Dee Lee’s expert financial advice on WBZ NewsRadio 1030 each weekday at 1:55 p.m., 3:55 p.m., and 7:55 p.m.

Subscribe to Dee’s Money Matters newsletter here.


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