By Tiffany, Contributing Writer
One of my favorite aspects of the holiday season is the parties. However, even these come with a limit.
You see, somehow last year, we found ourselves attending three Christmas parties in a row. THREE.
I’m not talking about three weekends in a row. This was three days: Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
As an avid meal planner, this throws a huge kink in my plans. I can skip dinner and plan an extra appetizer or dessert for a party. Sure, that’s no big deal. But to do three of them? In a row?!
Technically, I guess I could have made a triple batch of something yummy and brought it each night, but part of the fun of parties is trying out all the different foods. And making the same thing three nights in a row is super boring and probably against every unwritten rule of party-attending. Likely even more so during a holiday season that seems to be centered largely around food.
Creativity aside, here’s what I really struggled with: What can I bring to a holiday party that is relatively easy, won’t cost a lot of money but still tastes good?
In our house, all food comes out of the grocery budget, whether the food was for us or if it was a dish we took elsewhere. We love to contribute at parties and fellowship, and enjoy having people over for dinner even more so. But all of these are taken into consideration when I meal plan for the month and how we eat on other days balances it all out.
Striking a balance between a frugal budget and a month full of holiday parties is not an easy task.
In order to help us all make it through this holiday season – and all the holiday parties – without going broke, I’ve come up with a list of 16 easy and frugal holiday party dishes.
PS – If you struggle with eating real food on a real budget, I have very exciting news for you! Details are at the end of this post!
Every dish you see listed meets these four simple and straight-forward requirements:
- It uses common household ingredients. We need to be able to make something with what we already have in the house. No special trips to the store, no crazy expensive or unheard of ingredients.
- It should be relatively simple to make. Between hair, make-up, babysitters and keeping the nice dress drool-free, there’s enough to worry about as is. Whatever we bring needs to be easy peasy.
- It should be frugal, and ideally less than $5 for the dish. You know we’d spend more than that if we picked something up on the way, so $5 is a good goal to aim for. The best part though is that since we’re aiming to already have the ingredients in the cabinet, we’d likely spend far less than that.
- It can’t use a lot of pots. Because someone has to wash them and let’s be real – that someone will likely be you.
Remember that frugal doesn’t have to be boring, and appetizers and desserts aren’t meant to be a full meal. Start with this list of 16 easy and frugal holiday party dishes for the next Christmas party and not only will you bring an item that is sure to be a crowd pleaser, but you won’t break your pocketbook in the process!
- 3-Ingredient Homemade Crackers (DF, ready in 20 minutes)
- Rosemary Parmesan Cheese Crisps (10 minutes)
- Hummus with Cut Vegetables
- Homemade Ranch Dip or Homemade Blue Cheese Dressing with Cut Vegetables
- DIY Cheese Tray. Take various cuts of cheese from the fridge and add fruit jam with homemade crackers on the side.
- Trail Mix. Other additions include pretzels and holiday-themed candies, too, even more so if they’re a temptation in your own house.
- Cinnamon Sugar Biscuits with fresh fruit and Homemade Whipped Cream
- 5 Ingredient Homemade Peppermint Fudge
- Vanilla Bean Baked Cheesecake Apples
- Pumpkin Fudge
- Honeyed Pumpkin Spiced Popcorn
- Homemade Salted Caramel with fresh fruit
- Ice Cream with Homemade Chocolate Shell and Crushed Peppermint Candies
Allergy Tip: If you know you’ll be serving individuals with dairy allergies, make a batch of one of these homemade non-dairy milks to take with: coconut milk, almond milk, rice milk, peanut milk and hemp milk.
Before you stress about what to bring to the next holiday party, take inventory of your kitchen pantry first. Chances are you can come up with several options without having to stop and pick up something on the way!
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Do you have a favorite go-to dish for holiday parties? Share it with us in the comments!
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