These Budget-friendly Swaps Make Classic Christmas Dishes More Affordable

With food prices soaring, these simple trades keep the holiday merry without leaving your wallet empty.

Cheese ball on black galvanized stone board served with wine and crackers. Charcuterie for dinner, cheese snack, copy space
Photo: Chinarius/Getty Images

The Christmas dinner classics we know and love can hit your wallet almost as hard as the gifts under the tree (if only Santa made food deliveries!). These less expensive recipe swaps for apps, drinks, mains, and even the notorious fruitcake will make this season much merrier for you and your budget. Every swap keeps the festive, showstopper feel of the classics so you can still impress family and friends.

Instead of a cheese board, try a cheese ball.

A few wedges of cheese from the deli section of the store might set you back almost as much as your main course — and that's before adding crackers, nuts, and fruit. Instead, try a centerpiece cheese ball family and friends will love even more.

A base of affordable cream cheese and shredded Cheddar becomes extra festive in this Christmas Tree Cheese ball. You can also stick to the classic Cheese Ball I, rolled in crunchy pecans. Another classic that's just as popular and extra cheesy? This Spinach and Artichoke Dip.

Instead of mixed nuts, try a crunchy snack mix.

Peanuts may cost, well, peanuts, but a mix of cashews, Brazil nuts, pecans, and almonds can cost a lot more. Instead, give a different combo of crunchy snacks (like cereal, pretzels, and cheese crackers) the same glazed and toasted treatment. Try this sweet holiday White Chocolate Snack Mix, or a savory, cheesy Reindeer Snack Mix.

Instead of wine and cocktails, try a holiday punch.

The holiday season has us raiding the liquor cabinet and popping wine bottles often, as well as gifting bottles at potlucks and parties. Instead, make the booze go further in a festive Christmas Punch or sparkling Cranberry-Pomegranate Mimosa. You can also make spiked and alcohol-free versions of this Old Virginia Wassail Cider so everyone can raise a glass for a toast.

two mugs of ponche punch garnished with orange wedges

Get the Recipe: Mexican Christmas Punch

Instead of a rib roast or beef tenderloin, try pot roast or pork loin.

The star beef roast on your Christmas dinner is often the most expensive main we buy all year. Instead of a rib roast or beef tenderloin, try this company-worthy Awesome Slow Cooker Pot Roast or this classic London Broil I. These more affordable cuts have a rich, beefy flavor and are also easier to cook.

Not interested in beef? Try Herb-Roasted Pork, a cut that's less expensive per pound than pork tenderloin.

Instead of a booze-soaked fruitcake, a sticky toffee pudding.

The traditional fruitcake is everywhere this time of year, but it doesn't come cheap for the baker: It's chock-full of nuts and dried fruit, then soaked in pricey rum or brandy. Instead, try other Christmas bakes that feel just as decadent and festive. We love British standards like a Sticky Toffee Pudding Cake and Mini Orange Mince Pies. Or try a moist, warm-spiced Old Fashioned Gingerbread — the cookie's sophisticated (yet easy and affordable) cousin.

Need more holiday inspiration? Check out our collection of Christmas Recipes for festive cookies, cocktails, food gifts, and more.

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