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Creating the best Christmas feast on a budget

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Noche Buena, which translates to “good evening” in Spanish, refers to the night of Christmas Eve commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ. In the Philippines, it is more than just a night before the Christmas Day; it is a grand celebration where every member of the family — even those living or working abroad — gather together to sit down for a sumptuous feast, while wishing everyone good cheers and glad tidings.

Since Noche Buena is one of the most important traditions among Filipinos that only takes place once a year, it is really considerable to make it extra special and memorable. From the food to serve on the table, to the fun-filled activities to try during the Christmas feast, everything must be planned accordingly.

A Filipino Noche Buena would not be complete without food. And with all the price increases in the market, preparing and cooking for the anticipated feast doesn’t need to be expensive. There are several ways to come up with mouthwatering dishes without breaking the bank. The first tip to take note is to set the budget. According to Singapore-based financial comparison platform GoBear, this is significant as it will guide you on which dishes to include in the menu. “How much are you willing to spend for the feast? Setting a budget will give you a guide on which dishes to include in your menu. It is also important to consider the number of people present during the night,” it says.

Making a complete list of what to buy is also a big help to avoid unnecessary ingredients not included in the menu. “Stay within your plan, and you certainly will pay less on impulse buying,” GoBear says.

Moreover, the financial comparison platform suggests to slash out a few recipes that might be serve in the upcoming occasions. “Make a list of your family’s favorites. There are times when one dish might just look and taste the same as the other. In this case, try to slash out a few recipes which you can also actually serve for Media Noche. You don’t even have to buy everything your family wants to eat that night. A little dash of variety can already spice up the feast,” it explains.

Devoting enough time to shop is also necessary. “It’s the time of the year when everyone keeps on rushing around, and this won’t do good to your ‘shopping-on-a-budget’ venture. Having enough time will let you compare prices of different brands. You can even check out what’s on sale and stay away from regular priced items,” GoBear says.

Furthermore, GoBear suggests to look for the wholesale price but never buy bundled packages. It says that some grocery stores offer ingredients in a basket which seem to be cheaper but it is actually not.

Another great tip to prepare for Noche Buena on a budget is to look for homemade products, which are generally cheaper compared to their grocery-sold counterparts. GoBear says that aside from helping out small business owners, you can even negotiate for prices with them especially when buying in bulk.

Meanwhile, adding some decors in the dining area can also set the tone for an exciting Christmas feast. One inexpensive way to do this is by using fruits and ribbons as accessories.

“Pomegranates, pears, apples, lemons or grapes can all be beautiful (and edible) accessories. Choose a color theme and layer the color in different sizes and textures to make your holiday table unique. It’s an inexpensive way to create the perfect Christmas table setting. No need to store it until next year – just have the fruit for dessert,” Freshome, a go-to destination for anyone who is passionate about home design, says.

In choosing a ribbon, on the other hand, Freshome suggests to look for wired ribbon, which makes it easier to bend and fold into shape.

To make the Noche Buena feast even more special and memorable, don’t forget to gather the entire family for a photoshoot session. Make it extra special with matching outfits or creative shots in different parts of the house. The final photos can be printed out on a bigger canvas that can be displayed on the wall, or have them copied into smaller prints that can perfectly fit in wallets.

“Christmas can be very expensive, but you can always reduce your expenditures through planning, creating a budget and exploring other possible options to buy what you need. It takes a cup of patience, a teaspoon of an initiative, and an ounce of resourcefulness to make the holidays fun yet affordable,” GoBear says.

Above all these things, a secret for the best Noche Buena feast is putting God at the center of any relationships. While the Yuletide season might end, the love of God does not. Mark Louis F. Ferrolino





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