The holidays are coming, which means lots of family, food, and fun. I love hosting family at our house for the holidays, but having extra people in the house can kill our normal budget. But, it doesn't have to with these 6 tips to save money when you're hosting holiday guests:
Set Your Budget
If you are hosting 4 additional guests for a week over the holidays, you'll need to increase your food budget. Don't forget to also account for increases in your utilities (like water and electricity).
Plan Your Meals
With a little thought, you can plan your meals now to avoid eating out later. Choose inexpensive recipes that you can easily double. Depending on the type of recipe, you could cook it now and freeze it for later or plan for a slow cooker meal, so you don't end up spending all your time in the kitchen. If you have time, you can start buying the extra ingredients over the course of several weeks so your budget doesn't take a hit from extra mouths to feed all in one week.
Share the Costs
If your budget is super tight and you're hosting family, consider asking that everyone contribute a small amount for meals, especially if you are hosting a lot of people for an extended amount of time. Or perhaps ask them to purchase food and cook for a meal. Of course, take into account the ability of guests to contribute, remembering that they likely had expenses travelling to your house.
Borrow Needed Items for Guests
Does your guest need an item that's bulky for them to bring with them on the plane? Ask your friends if they have items that you can borrow while your guests are in town. Ideas include a car seat, pack ‘n play, air mattress (if you don't have enough beds), etc. Unless you plan on using those items regularly, it's more cost efficient to borrow them if you can.
Use Freebies for Guest Baskets
If you like to provide a little fun basket of toiletries for your guests to use while they stay with you, gather all your freebies that you've received and put them together. You likely have sample size shampoo and conditioner bottles that you can use as well as free toothpaste and toothbrushes from the drugstores (after coupons and loyalty bucks or points).
When we have guests, we love to plan activities so that we can enjoy a day out together. However, the cost of tickets for multiple people can quickly add up. Keep an eye out for discounted tickets for attractions through LivingSocial or Groupon. Or sometimes, you can get discounts through AAA or your local warehouse store (like Costco).
You can also get creative. Last year, my sister and her family each had Six Flags season passes (and so did we), so we were able to visit Holiday in the Park together for free.
What about you? How do you save money when you're hosting guests over the holidays?