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1 December 2015

Top tips for entertaining at home this Christmas

Dining out with friends can be expensive – but eating and entertaining at home could help you get around that

Australians are cooking up a storm at home in an effort to combine socialising with saving. The latest ING DIRECT Financial Wellbeing Index (Q3, 2015) shows that one in three Aussie households open up their homes every one to three months, inviting friends over for dinner rather than going out to a restaurant.

While the average household entertains approximately eight times a year, high income households do the hosting almost 15 times a year – nearly double the average.

But it seems that even hosting a dinner party is getting too expensive for many of us: the ING DIRECT Financial Wellbeing Index also found that one in five of us (21%) are entertaining less than a year ago, with budgetary constraints one of the underlying factors.

If home entertaining is your thing, but you’re concerned about the rising costs, then never fear. Here are a few tips to help you stretch your dollar further:

1. Go large

Money concerns aside, almost half (46%) of you enjoy the entertaining and cooking aspect of hosting a party at home. So why not prepare large portions of serve-yourself, hearty food? Tacos, pasta dishes, stir fry’s and curries are easy, low effort dishes which stretch to feed multiple guests. Never mind the ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’ you’ll get when you walk in with a big pot of food to a table full of hungry guests, cooking tasty yet inexpensive food will help you keep expenses to a minimum.

So you’re not bearing all the costs or effort yourself, consider asking guests to bring a plate or side dish to accompany your main meal. This could also help accommodate the needs of your gluten free and vegan guests.

2. Save time

While 44% of Aussies say they enjoy the relaxing environment of a dinner party versus dressing up and going out, 19% still think it’s too time consuming.

Save time by chucking some meat and veggies in a slow cooker for a one-pot, set-and-forget meal with minimal effort and minimal cleaning, leaving you with stress free time to mingle and show off your house. After all, that’s what 15% of you enjoy most about hosting.

3. Champion cost-efficiency

Around 45% of Aussie households find the cost of providing food and drink for everyone is too expensive. Consider making alcohol stretch further by adding soft drinks and mixing up some punch. If you insist on wine, pouring it into a decanter could help hide the fact that it may have cost you $6 instead of $60 – and the decanter gives you bonus fancy points!

Finally, take a tip from the baby boomers who have the most cost-effective approach to entertaining, spending on average $23 less than Gen Y when it comes to hosting at home. You may have caught the Masterchef bug and be intent on serving up croquembouches and filet mignon, but remember that less is sometimes more.

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