Sunday, November 18, 2012

Man, I'm Broke Monday: Holiday Libations on A Budget

The residents of The Kiefer Cottage enjoy a good party.  But because we're a one-income family, a well-lubricated holiday extravaganza can seem too frivolous and absolutely too expensive.  During the year, we don't keep loads of alcohol in the house, in part because of the cost but also because our pants are already too tight (thankfully, I did hear that muffin tops are the new black, though, so at least I'm stylish in my plumpness.  Don't correct me if I'm wrong).  However, for Thanksgiving and Christmas (and the occasional shindig), we like to kick back and enjoy a few adult beverages.

How do we do it without breaking the bank?

First off, all alcohol purchased must fall within the weekly grocery budget, so there is no extra spending.  The exception is Thanksgiving, when I go all out with food (just spent $30 on shrimp for instance), but otherwise, all extras have to still keep us under our $150 per week grocery budget.  Sometimes, that means we'll choose a cheaper dinner to make up the difference, but we're not eating beans and rice for a week so we can get wasted.  Instead, we do this for special occasions.

Found at Trader Joe's for far less than $10.
Secondly, we look for deals. While I've never seen a coupon for alcohol (perhaps they exist, but not in my state), I do see the circulars advertising specials.  For us, it's cheapest to purchase the booze at our local grocery store--we cross into Missouri to head to the Sun Fresh (in Westport).  Not only does Missouri enjoy a low tax rate for alcohol, but the state also allows for all types of adult drinks to be sold alongside groceries, so we can get it all in one trip. In Kansas, to get the hard stuff or regular beer for that matter (it's 3.2 beer at the food sto'), we'd have to go to a separate store.

Side note: don't be afraid to look in unexpected places for good prices.  My friends just told me that there's a CVS on the Missouri side of the state line that offers fantastic deals.  I plan on visiting there soon.

Cava, which is Spanish sparkling wine, for $7.99 a bottle.
Third, we're not snobs nor are we loyal to one type of drink.  We buy what's on sale unless we're talking about a few domestic varieties that shall never pass these lips again (let me make a case for Miller High Life, though. It is indeed the champagne of beers. Good stuff).  I have tried expensive champagne (excuse me, sparkling wine), and the difference in taste isn't great enough to justify spending a lot more, so never do I spend more than $10 on a bottle.  We still enjoy Cook's which can be found for about $5 at some stores.

Finally, we keep our eyes peeled for unadvertised clearance items.  For this week, we got two varieties for 60% off retail because they are about to go beyond their "fresh" dates.  I've yet to have a skunky beer when partaking in such deals.

The Apple Ale was priced at over $9, and we got it for less than $4 on clearance.
Other strategies for saving money on holiday cheer in a bottle: 

1) Consider serving a cocktail like mimosas or sangria (as opposed to something like a martini).  That'll stretch the expensive stuff.  Also, if you're mixing, you often can get by with a cheaper variety rather than the top shelf.  Anyway, this'll tone down the strength of the drinks, which can be a good thing if Uncle Darryl tends to go too far at holiday dinners, insisting that everyone join in a rousing naked rendition of The Twelve Days of Christmas (for the 8th time in one evening).

2) Buy by the case if you can because many stores offer a discount.  A liquor store near my Alma Mater would offer women an even higher discount on Wednesdays.  

3) Don't be afraid to try something new. 

4) Save the expense for a special occasion rather than partaking every night this season.

Even cheapskates can enjoy a few drinks, so hopefully you can find a place in your budget to make it happen if you so desire. 

Please don't drink and drive, though.  Have fun, but stay safe this year!


  1. such great tips. every december i have a cookie exchange at my house for some of my favorite ladies. i always serve small apps, wine, cheese but i think i may do sangria this year (its a fav of mine anyway) i follow you on twitter but am not following you here! i will be back to check in and visit. :)

  2. I like this series! We currently operate without a budget and it's not good...


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