If you don’t plan for it carefully, Thanksgiving can be a very costly gathering. With the December holidays just around the corner it’s a good idea to try and keep expenses down. But how can such a huge family celebration be accomplished on a budget? Here are some tips to help you think about preparing for the big feast without breaking the bank.
Plan a Budget
Plan a basic budget for Turkey Day so you know how much you’ll spend on decorations, food, and entertainment and activities, before you take a trip to the grocery store. It’s better to not be surprised when you see your grocery bill or your bank statement at the end of the month. Try making this budget a couple months ahead and you can even save in advance for what you need.
Prepare Dinner from Scratch
Canned or pre-made items usually cost more than buying actual ingredients and making dinner yourself. Pick up a bag of real potatoes instead of a box of instant, make your own pie crusts, or make your own stuffing with leftover bread. Also consider cutting back on what you make. By trimming your menu down you’ll be able to spend more time creating fresh, high-quality dishes and less tempted to buy, pre-made options.
You can also save money by looking through your local paper or online at places like Coupons.com for any coupons that might be available for items on your list. Check to see if your local stores are having sales as well. Grocery stores often run special holiday promotions.
A great way to cut back on some of your Thanksgiving costs is to ask your guests to contribute. A potluck-style dinner is a good way to get everyone involved and channel the spirit of the holiday. Split up some of the prep work, ask guests to bring side dishes or desserts, or have them create decorations. Sharing the responsibilities for the festivities may even start a few new traditions.
Have Guests Bring Booze
Many people enjoy drinking on Thanksgiving, but alcohol is very expensive. Instead of covering the costs yourself, ask your friends and family to bring a six-pack of beer or a bottle of wine to dinner. If everyone contributes the costs will be minimal.
Make Decorating Easy
Buying decorations can get just as expensive as the food items if you aren’t careful. Try purchasing just a few set pieces that you can use every year and fill the rest of your home with free or inexpensive items from nature like dried grasses, herbs, leaves and gourds. You can even enlist help from your kids or your guests’ kids by having them create holiday decorations. That can be a really fun activity at Thanksgiving for the little ones.