Melissa's Top 7 Money-Saving Tricks for the Holidays

With Melissa's budget-friendly holiday feast, you won't have to break the bank to feed a crowd.

Winter, Holiday

Take a cue from Marilyn Monroe's famous accessorizing trick: Make a list of everything you want to make for a holiday dinner and remove (at least) one item. You'll save money and enjoy less stress too.

Remember the most important rule of saving food dollars: Wasted food is the most expensive food you buy, no matter how cheap it was. So be sure to do a scan of your fridge for leverage leftovers, and use them to make soup, stocks, tetrazzini and other freezer-friendly dishes.

Everyone has a signature holiday dish. When your guests ask what they can bring, instead of saying "Oh, nothing," ask them to bring their favorite dish. This is a fun and social way to lighten the load (and the bill) on the host.

Gift cards: Some major grocery stores promote their gift cards around the holidays with a bonus offer. For instance, you buy a $100 grocery store gift card, and you get a $10 bonus card. Usually, the more you buy, the higher the bonus. Nothing is stopping you from using those gift cards to buy your own groceries, and using those bonus dollars yourself.

We all have the dishes we make out of obligation to tradition but that no one eats (green gelatin salad with maraschino cherries anyone?). This is the year to skip that recipe. You can always go back to making it next year if you really can't live without it (although I bet you can).

The fabulous prescription coupon. The most overlooked, yet valuable, coupon is the new/transferred prescription coupon: You fill a new or transferred prescription at the pharmacy on the coupon. They get your prescription dollars, and you get a $25 gift card free. What people don't realize is that most pharmacies will accept competitors' coupons, so you may not have to drive to an out-of-the-way pharmacy to get the deal.

Feeling squeezed by the economy this year and feeling the crunch extra hard as we head into the holidays? Volunteer at a homeless shelter, food bank or soup kitchen. There is nothing like helping those who are less fortunate than you to make you feel grateful for what you do have, which will curb overspending and keep the holidays focused on what matters: the people in your life.

Click here for more tips and recipes from Melissa, or check out Melissa's show, Ten Dollar Dinners with Melissa d'Arabian.