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5 Money Saving Last Minute Tips for Holiday Party Food

By on November 30, 2015
5 Money Saving Last Minute Tips for Holiday Party Food

We’ve come around the Thanksgiving corner and now it’s time to focus on the Christmas parties in store for you this Season. Make a mental list of all the friendly events you’ll be attending to celebrate the Holidays with family and friends.

If you aren’t careful, you can easily spend $15 to $20 or more for every plate of party food or sweets for office get togethers, ornament exchanges and Christmas family reunion celebrations that come the week after or before December 25th.

Take measures now to keep bringing a fun and delicious treat from wreaking havoc with your December budget by doing a little preliminary shopping as quickly as possible.

Stock up on some of the following items:

1. Cake mixes and frosting

Head to a big box store and take advantage of loss-leader cake mix specials. Grab a bottle of vegetable oil – it’s probably on the same aisle and make sure you have eggs in the fridge throughout the Season. You’ll be just 90 minutes away from mixing, baking, cooling and frosting your way to a real “homemade” cake.

Use a 9×13 pan to save the trouble of frosting and stacking layers of cake. Just cool the cake and spread on a tub of frosting. Voila!

Use melted butter in place of vegetable oil for that rich dense wedding-cake texture in your cake if you are feeling adventurous. (That’s a wedding cake baker secret!)

Stick with the classics – chocolate, vanilla and yellow are always a party favorite.

Don’t underestimate the amount of sheer joy associated with a simple, remind-me-of-my-childhood cake can bring to other party-goers.

2. Ingredients for “Dump Cakes”

Even easier than making a cake and frosting it, the classic dump cake will make you a party super-star. These pans of delicious cobbler-y goodness are always a big hit. Part cake, part pie, serve this lovely dish when with vanilla ice cream.

Classic Dump Cake (the recipe that started the trend)

Yellow cake mix
Cherry pie filling
20 oz Can crushed pineapple (do not drain)
1 Stick of Butter

1. Spray a 9×13 or 10×13 pan with cooking spray

2. Open can of cherry pie filling and dump into pan. Follow that with the opened can of crushed pineapple – juice and all. Swirl them around. I don’t like to over mix at this junction. Your goal is to evenly distribute the fruit but not pulverize it.

2. Sprinkle the dry, just opened cake mix on top of the cherry pie filling and pineapple. (Do not add any of the ingredients this cake mix calls for. Just sprinkle it over your red and yellow sugary goodness.)

3. Dot slices of butter over the dry cake batter. (An alternative approach is to melt the butter and pour over.)

Bake for 45-50 minutes until the top is lightly browned. Can be served hot or at room temperature.

Some other combinations:

2 cans apple filling, spice cake mix, a couple handfuls of chopped pecans, butter

Large can of peaches (29 oz) undrained, yellow cake mix, butter

3. Nutella and a bag of standard pretzels

It’s time to dust off and wash your dip and chip platter. Fill the center with Nutella and surround it with pretzels. Cover and head to your party. (Or sneak in your ingredients in a Trader Joe’s tote and set it up when no one’s watching.)

Every time I bring this dish girlfriends are always stunned by how yummy this is and ask me for the recipe. Victory!

4. Sour cream, ranch dressing powder, frozen spinach and pretzels

This is a fantastic dip that is easy to make the night before a fun party.

Defrost the spinach and completely drain it in fine mesh strainer – press the spinach firmly to remove as much water as possible.

Mix the spinach, 16 oz of sour cream and one package of ranch dressing mix together. If you have a container of this ambrosia, use 3 tablespoons.

Chill and serve with pretzels.

The salty crunchy meets creamy salty is a wonderful match. (Nothing but pretzels will do.)

5. Bag of Pre-made Frozen Meatballs and Sauce

I find the best deals on meatballs at Sam’s Club and Costco. Simply pre-bake the meatballs until they start to turn brown and acquire a crust or they’ll turn out gray and sad.

Pull out your crock pot, add your browned meatballs and cover with a sauce that has been pre-heated on your stovetop. Within an hour, you’re appetizer will be ready to go.

Sauce suggestions: (Quantities will be based on how many meatballs you are taking to your event. Eyeball the sauces. They’re easy, it will be fine.)

1. Equal parts of no-bean Wolf Brand chili and grape jelly. Seriously, this is ridiculously good – a real catering secret.

2. Jars of pre-made pasta sauce. Pour heated sauce over your meatballs in a crockpot and simmer until the meatballs take on the flavor of the sauce. Serve with rolls for mini-meatball subs or with toothpicks.

3. Sweet and Sour Sauce. Purchased in bulk at a Sam’s Costco or restaurant supply

If all else fails… the bonus tip:

Buy a case of wine

When all else fails, be the one who brings a bottle of wine. Red or white, choose your favorite. Watch for Holiday specials at your local larger liquor store and take advantage of case pricing.

My target is $6 to $8 a bottle. I have found a wonderful bordeaux, a lovely pinot grigio and some nice sparkling wine in this price range.

By purchasing in advance and having a few bottles waiting, you won’t need to stop by the liquor store to make an impulsive purchase or fun by the bakery for cookies everyone will just nibble on.

Prepare yourself for the Christmas season with an hour of shopping at a grocery store, Target or Walmart. You’ll save money, time and worry better allowing you to focus your attention on family and friends.

Shellie Gardner is the owner of Christmas Light Source. Formerly an Electrical Engineer, she left corporate life behind to do what every engineer wants to do and started her own business. Christmas Light Source is now one of the top online retailers of Christmas Lights. She has been married to David Robinson for 18 years and they have two lovely boys. She’s thankful every day that she gets to think about Christmas lights all year long! Follow her on Facebook!

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