Over-50s foot the Christmas dinner bill

Davis Davies/PA

Many of us will be reining in the usual over-indulgence at the weekend as we prepare for a budget-friendly Christmas.

Yet it is the over-50s who are mainly picking up the bill for festivities this year, as they shoulder the burden of cash-strapped families.

The full Christmas dinner can get expensive and it is the over 50 age group who pay for it, according to a study by Saga.

It found 56% of over 50s say they will pick up the family's entire food and drink bill this Christmas, while in the 50 to 60 age group the proportion intending to pay rises to 65%.

Around the 9.2m over 50s expected to be hosting Christmas dinner in their own home for their children and grandchildren this year. Around 37% are following a family tradition of playing host and preparing turkey and all the trimmings for everyone.

Another 17% said they followed a family rotation and this year was their turn, 8% said their children found the job too stressful and expensive and 6% were going on holiday instead. The poll of 10,000 over-50s also shows that only 3% claim to be paying nothing at all towards Christmas food and drink.

While one in four are expected to make a contribution in the form of a turkey or wine, and one in five will do some festive baking to provide Christmas puddings, cakes and mince pies.

Dr Ros Altmann, Director-General of Saga, commented: "Despite the current alarming living costs faced by older people in the UK, these generations by and large don't stop giving. Not only are older people supporting their children and grandchildren with general living costs, they are also continuing to foot the bills through one of the most expensive times of the year for many people."

Tips for cut the cost of Christmas dinner

Do it yourself
They might be great time-savers, but consider whether pre-prepared foods are worth the extra cost. Frozen roast potatoes, pre-chopped vegetables and pre-made extras like stuffing and pigs-in-blankets may be handy, but you're paying for the packaging and convenience, and can shave costs by making your own from scratch.

Crowning glory
Many families favour turkey crowns over the whole bird as they provide less wastage and better value for money. If you're happy to forgo leg meat, it may be worth roasting a crown or two for your Christmas dinner instead this year.

Make new traditions
Your family may have come to expect crackers at the table, Yorkshire puddings and three types of potato, but do you really need them? Trim back on unnecessary extras so you can make the best of what you do have at dinner.

Split the cost
If you're hosting the entire Christmas shebang at home, you may find yourself footing the bill for everything from canapés and puddings, to cheese and drinks. Draw up a list of what you need and ask guests to bring something to help ease the cost.

Don't overdo it
Be realistic when heading to the supermarket this week and don't buy more food than your family needs. There is only so much you can eat before you get sick of rich foods and sweet treats, so don't allow adverts, special offers and tempting displays to sway you.

Plan your meals, write a list and think carefully before buying bumper packs of mince pies, nuts and chocolates for example, when smaller portions will do. Cutting back will help both your wallet and your waistline.
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