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No need to bite off more than you can chew: 7 tips for Christmas on a budget

Worried about hosting a festive feast on a budget? Vicky Shaw shares some tips

For many families, Christmas is one of the few times of the year when all loved ones are gathered around the table. But while it's of course great to get everyone together, those hosting a big Christmas gathering may be a little worried about the cost of having so many mouths to feed.

Around a quarter of households' total Christmas spending will go on food and drink, research from Go-Compare Money suggests.

With a few weeks still to go, though, it's not too late to start planning and thinking ahead about ways to help cut the cost of the festive feast, rather than panic-buying at the last minute and blowing the budget.

Here are some tips from MyVoucherCodes.co.uk spokesperson Anders Nilsson for cutting the cost of the Christmas Day dinner...

1. Make the most of bargains and yellow stickers

While you've still got some time, have a browse around the supermarkets to buy reduced items, particularly if you're able to make use of them by putting them in the freezer for a few weeks so they'll be readily available when you need them.

2. Plan buying any meat in advance

In the run-up to Christmas many people will be shopping for turkey, chicken, gammon and beef - potentially leaving some shoppers struggling to get the bird or joint they want, and finding themselves limited to the stock that's left.

If you're planning to freeze your meat, you could buy it further in advance and potentially have the best choice of what's available, and buy in the sizes that you need. Just ensure you have the space in your freezer to store it. Another option could be to find out from your local butcher or supermarket if they will take orders in advance that you can collect closer to Christmas.

3. Consider alternatives to turkey

While many people have a big, traditional turkey in mind when picturing their perfect Christmas, if you don't think you're going to eat your way through it all (or, if you're really honest, none of you even like it that much), an alternative option, such as a chicken, could work out less expensive - and easier to cook.

4. Get your hands dirty

Instead of buying pre-sliced veg and microwave veg packs, get stuck in - peel and chop your own potatoes, slice your own veg and use only what you need. If you've got all the family round, there will be more people available to help out.

Likewise, don't buy pre-made pigs in blankets, stuffing and all the other extras you like with your Christmas dinner. Buy the ingredients and spend a little time making them from scratch.

5. Only use what you need

It's so easy to go overboard and cook enough to feed a small army at Christmas, but by doing this it's likely that a lot of food will go to waste. If people are still hungry afterwards, there's likely to be plenty of other snacks and food in the kitchen that they can tuck into.

6. Ask guests to bring a dish

If you're entertaining others at your home for Christmas, you could ask guests to help out a bit by bringing drinks, crackers, or even preparing a dish or two if they live nearby. This may seem a more agreeable option for some than asking guests to make contributions to the cost of Christmas dinner in cold, hard cash. Just be sure to decide ahead of time who's preparing which dish, so you don't end up with three bowls of roast potatoes and no vegetables.

7. Ahead of next Christmas, consider growing your own

While it's too late in the year to start growing your own veg for the table now, you could always get a head-start on next year and start working on your own small vegetable patch.

It doesn't have to take up a lot of space in the garden, and you can grow all sorts of veg, some of which you may be able to freeze to keep for longer.

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