One of the most enjoyable aspects of the holiday season is having friends and family come to stay for a visit. But having those extra people in the house can often lead to a blown budget and post-holiday debt. Fortunately, there are several ways you can be sure your houseguests will have an enjoyable stay while keeping your finances under control. Let’s see what they are:
Plan a Menu
First, find out if your houseguests have any food allergies or dietary restrictions. Then, plan a menu around simple, crowd-pleasing meals such as spaghetti and salad, chili and cornbread or a big pot of warm and hearty soup. Focus on dishes that are easy to make, easy to clean up and make good leftovers (or freeze well). Keep fresh fruit and grab-and-go snacks, like protein bars, in a basket on the counter so guests can help themselves and not feel shy about searching through your cabinets for a snack.
Find Cheap or Free Activities
Keeping guests entertained can be one of the biggest expenses. Do some detective work and search out discounts for local events on sites like Groupon or Living Social. You can usually find deals for stage shows, sporting events and even big-name concerts. But there are plenty of free activities to enjoy too. Look for holiday lighting events, community musical performances and other seasonal happenings. You’ll probably discover events that end up becoming some of your favorite holiday traditions.
Rent or Borrow What You Need
Need four more dining chairs? Air mattress spring a leak? No playpen for your cousin’s curious toddler? Having houseguests means you’ll probably need things you don’t regularly use yourself. Instead of buying (and then storing) all those odds ‘n ends, see about borrowing them from friends or co-workers. If no one in your network has what you need, there’s a good chance you can rent it for a fraction of what you’d pay to purchase something you only need once or twice a year.
Buy in Bulk
With guests in the house, you’re going to go through more toilet paper, tissues, paper towels and other household essentials. To save money, stock up on the basics at a warehouse club like Sam’s or Costco. No membership? No problem. Sam’s Club offers a one-day trial pass, and anyone can shop at Costco if they have Costco Cash (a Costco gift card), regardless of membership status.
Accept Assistance Gratefully
If your guests offer to chip in for gas, groceries or other costs, don’t be ashamed to accept it. Most people understand that having guests can be expensive and are happy to help out. Plus, they’re saving on hotel and other travel costs by staying with you. Just be sure to return the favor the next time you visit them.