How to host Christmas dinner in your condo – for cheap!
One of the biggest challenges condo owners face is lack of space. Many who choose condo living do so to minimize maintenance costs and live close to where they work and play. That often means a smaller unit where every single square inch has a purpose. For day-to-day living this is an excellent solution, but for hosting a large gathering it can be challenging. With Christmas coming up condo owners might feel like their only choice is to attend a party at a larger home, but with some careful planning, you too you can host a great party in your home and not break the bank.
Book the party room
The easiest and most obvious choice is to book your condominium party room. Most of these spaces come with food prep rooms, a lounge area and of course a spacious place to seat all your guests. With only a few weeks before the holidays the best dates may be gone already, but inquire about Christmas 2019. Maybe you can book now for the year ahead and let guests know that next year the holiday meal will be hosted by you. As a courtesy let your doorman know your plans to minimize delays of your dinner guests getting in. Go a step further and make signs that lead to the room, as some condo buildings are difficult to navigate.
Most condo owners don’t have a table that will seat eight to ten guests. If you’re hosting in your unit look into renting a dining table with chairs. Turn your condo into a restaurant like feel. Move all the unnecessary furniture out of your main space into your bedroom. Leave only the long table and chairs and a few seats for guests to lounge. Keep the focus on the table and encourage guests to claim their seats as they arrive. This way, like a restaurant, they can stand during cocktail time and know there is a seat available right way if they need it. In some cases you can rent a dining set for as low as $200 and this includes set up. Some companies will provide the china and flatware, too.
The easiest way to keep costs (and efforts low) is to make your holiday dinner a potluck. After all if you’re spending money on renting furniture or a party room to accommodate your guests you may already be looking at a few hundred dollars to put on your party. As host commit to making the main dish. Ask your guests to bring dessert and the fixings. Also, for a big Turkey dinner skip the appetizers. When guests arrive already having your first course on the go, like a soup or salad. This will keep guests occupied and save you the hassle and money of making extra appetizers.
Having a small space means there is little room to do any work once guests arrive. After all you should be talking to them and not stuck in the kitchen. Make all you dishes ahead. In fact, except for dressing the salad, don’t leave anything to the last minute. The joy of holiday cooking is that casseroles and can be cooked ahead and kept warming in the oven.
Planning ahead will make sure you don’t blow your budget. Make a list early of what you want to buy, search the flyers to get food ahead of time on sale. Make conscious choices to not cook meals that have complicated ingredients that you’ll have to go out and buy; use what you have at home first. Christmas is about getting together and enjoying a great meal with family and friends. A small space and small budget should not sway you from hosting.
Rubina ahmed-haq is a journalist and personal finance expert. She is HPG’s Finance Editor. She regularly appears on CBC Radio and TV. She is a contributor on CTV Your Morning and Global Toronto. She has a BA from York University, received her post graduate journalism diploma from Humber College and has completed the CSC. Follow her on Twitter @alwayssavemoney.