How to make Christmas cheaper

With a bit of clever cooking you can make Christmas surprisingly cheap without cutting back on the festive cheer. Here's how...

A roast chicken

The pressure to spend a fortune at Christmas grows every year and if you have a flock of expectant guests knocking at your door it's easy to feel overwhelmed with the expense of it all.

But a traditional Christmas celebration filled with fine food, seasonal treats and homemade gifts doesn't have to send you into the red. With a bit of clever cooking you can make Christmas surprisingly cheap without cutting back on the festive cheer.

Use your leftovers

Bread and butter puddingAs much as we might try, most people fail to polish off the Christmas lunch and end up with an abundance of food the morning after. With this in mind you can do some planning and shouldn't need to buy an excessive amount of food for Boxing Day. Getting creative with your leftovers is a great way of saving money – and a really satisfying way of feeding your family.

Oven baked rosti and bubble & squeak make a mouth-watering addition to Boxing Day brunch, and use up all the classic Christmas ingredients.

Turn the remnants of the cheese board into a tasty tart, whip up a sherried turkey & ham bake, or if you're out to impress make it a roast turkey & cranberry Wellington for the ultimate Boxing Day buffet. Leftover root vegetables can be combined into a delicious veg & orange cake, and excess Christmas panettone can be turned into an extra-posh bread & butter pudding. But of course no Christmas would be complete without the famous turkey curry – so here's one for Bridget Jones's mum.

One of the main reasons for wasting money at Christmas is panic buying. Remember, the supermarkets are only actually closed for a couple of days, so try not to fall into the trap of massively over-spending on things you don't really need. There are only so many mince pies one family can eat and if you have guests it's likely they will also bring a surplus of food and drink with them. Here are some more of our favourite Christmas leftover recipes.

Austerity cook Jack Monroe told us one of the first cookbooks she bought was Gastronomy Economy by Allegra McEvedy. "She [Allegra] really installed in me the fundamentals that you can make leftovers good, you can take one ingredient and make it go into three meals. And that you can make cooking fun, even when its simple ingredients and you’re on a budget," says Jack.

You can view all our Christmas leftover recipes here.

Budget cooking

Poached pears in spiced teaShop-bought canapes and starter classics like smoked salmon rack up the shopping bill in no time. Lots of people skip the starter on Christmas Day altogether, but if you want to stick to your starter how about trying cheap and easy winter classics; like a sophisticated but simple celeriac tartare with smoked trout, ham hock and mustard terrine, or smoked mackerel salad.

If you don't have hundreds of guests, a Christmas centrepiece of classic roast chicken and gravy or foolproof roast chicken can reduce the stress and cost on the big day. Seasonal sides like winter root mash and creamy parsnip & squash bake are inexpensive and delicious.

If your guests are too full for Christmas pud, finish off in style with a light and festive dessert like poached pears in spiced tea. It'll set you back much less per serving than your traditional Christmas pud but your guests will never guess.

You can view all our Christmas budget recipes here.

Cheaper cuts

Three hour pork belly'Forgotten cuts' like pork belly and lamb shanks have become more popular (and pricey) in recent years - but they're still good value and especially delicious in slow-cooked dishes. Gordon Ramsay's oxtail soup is a delicious winter warmer. If you've got guests staying for the full Christmas period - dishes like lamb neck with Christmas spices and three-hour pork belly are sure to score you culinary points - as well as saving you pounds.

You can view all our cheaper cut recipes here.

Edible gifts

Cupcake kitHomemade gifts always make a special impression and are a fantastic way of keeping Christmas costs down. A touch of pretty packaging can turn edible treats into something that looks really special.

Chocoholics will love the triple chocolate cupcake kit and you can indulge cheese-loving friends with a stylish baked camembert kit. Mulling syrup, pickled pears and vintage vanilla fudge are all bound to please the adults too.

Get kids whipping up their own presents in the kitchen with child-friendly recipes like festive jammie dodgers or special chocolate buttons - even if the results don't look perfect granny's sure to be impressed. If you really want to spoil someone you can always make up a whole hamper, and this can make a lovely family present, which cuts the cost of buying lots of seperate gifts. Discover tips on making your hamper look extra special, and homemade treats to put in it, with our how to make a Christmas hamper article.

You can view all our edible gift recipes here.

Got your own delicious tips for keeping Christmas costs down? Then please share them below. Or check out our favourite low-cost Christmas recipes here.

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