Featured Image Big family means big celebration. I grew up with many siblings, cousins, and now am blessed to have a bunch of nieces and nephews. Celebration happens often, from birthdays to congratulatory dinners. Through it all we’ve learned how to get together without breaking the budget. Here are some tips and tricks I’ve picked up along the way. 1. Have a pot luck or a shared dinner! Not all the cooking and food preparation has to fall squarely on your shoulders. Frequently, guests bring a gift for the hosts. Instead, you can encourage everyone to bring a side, a dessert, or an ingredient for your shared dish. For fun, you can center a theme around the pot luck as well. For example, “Family Favorites Feast” or “Game Day Classics” and tie it into the décor. 2. Make your own decorations. DIY is all the rage these days, and with good reason! With just a few materials, you can make some very festive decorations to place around your home. You may be able to find decorations that fit your theme or are season-specific. There are some great ideas at www.pinterest.com or www.diynetwork.com. 3. Shop your refrigerator and pantry. One of the biggest issues when it comes to hosting is the grocery store bill. If you buy all necessary food items at once for a large dinner it can add up quickly. Before making the menu for your event, try looking in your cabinets and refrigerator first to see what you can piece together. In addition, if your event is a few weeks away you can begin gathering non-perishable items early to prevent one large shopping trip that breaks the budget. These are a couple sites that will create recipes from ingredients you have at home: www.supercook.com and www.myfridgefood.com. 4. Partner with friends or family for supplies. There can be a lot of value in an item that’s gently used from a friend or a family member. Speak with others about the upcoming event and ask if they have any old supplies or decorations that they’d be willing to give or allow you to borrow for the event. They may have something stored in their closets that would be perfect. You can also look for items on sites like www.craigslist.org and https://us.letgo.com/en. 5. Buy now for next year’s event. It’s no secret that immediately following a holiday all those holiday-specific items are discounted, and as time goes on, the discounts get greater and greater. After a holiday or season change, you may have some success buying non-perishable items for next year. Find an out-of-the-way place in your home to store them, and come next year there won’t be such an impact on the budget! Stephanie R. Stephanie is a Lending Advisor at Virginia Credit Union. The middle child of a 7-person family, Stephanie enjoys helping others and bringing people together. Other stories by Stephanie R.