Festive feasts don't have to cost a fortune

(NC) The holidays can be expensive, especially when it comes to feeding your family. Whether prepping for large celebratory gatherings or baking gingerbread cookies with the kids, the grocery list can quickly feel endless. Save this season with these simple tips:

Ask guests to bring a dish. If you're hosting a big dinner, one great way to cut costs is to have each guest bring a dish, potluck style. Choose a specific course for each guest or family to contribute ahead of time so you can build your menu accordingly. From savoury sides to sweet treats, this will also help you save time.

Set a budget and stick to it. It can be easy to go overboard during the holidays, especially when you're hosting. As a first step, decide in advance how much you're willing to spend on food and entertainment. Another great way to stay within budget is to use points-based reward cards. Kathy Buckworth, lifestyle expert and finance writer, says it's all about saving up points for those big shops. “The PC Financial World Elite Mastercard is a great option because for every $1 you spend you can earn up to 30 PC points. Points can be redeemed towards free food at participating local Loblaws, Real Canadian Superstore and Provigo so you're really maximizing your spending and seeing that return.”

Plan your menu in advance. Planning meals ahead of time can be a huge cost-saver. In the weeks leading up to the holidays, write out your menu for each meal including everything from drinks and appetizers to baking ingredients. Not only will this help you stay organized during your shopping trips, it will also help you determine if it all fits within your budget. For even more savings, try incorporating items that are in season, especially when it comes to fruits and vegetables.

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