BOSTON (CBS) – A big item in the holiday budget is the amount spent on special food and drinks for the festivities.

Whether it’s a party you are having or serving Christmas dinner try making it cheaper.

If you are planning a party the easiest thing is to make it a potluck affair. Be sure to put potluck on the invitation. Let your guests help and contribute. They are happy to do so.

Instead of a dinner party have people over for cheese and wine. Or a tree decorating party and serve cookies and mulled cider, grown-up mulled cider.

Christmas dinner: again make it potluck if possible. Start thinking now about how to make it less expensive. Start by checking the store 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 $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 whipped 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 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 and pie crusts.

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 them.


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