Okay, okay, its a feast… it’s supposed to be over the top, too much to eat. Well, you can still celebrate the season without busting your budget. My first suggestion which will save you the most may or may not be for you….
Here’s an idea…
This Thanksgiving, give thanks by giving.
Yes. That’s right. By giving. Instead of sitting down to a huge meal with all the cost, time, and cleanup- how about starting a new tradition of giving. By donating your time on Thanksgiving Day to help those less fortunate? There are literally thousands of organizations nationwide that open their doors and serve Thanksgiving meals to the homeless and those in need. It’s a great lesson in sharing for the kids, and you save money while doing a great thing.
You could start by contacting your local Churches, Salvation Army, or homeless shelter and ask if they have a Thanksgiving dinner planned.
If you just can’t give up that time, think about helping out before the holiday. Some of these organizations put together bags of groceries for a Thanksgiving meal. Many can use some help assembling the bags, and delivering the bags days before T-Day. They can always use some volunteers. And, it feels good. Way better than an overstuffed belly.
If that’s not for you, there are still lots of ways to save on your Thanksgiving Celebration.
First, don’t overbuy. Experts suggest one to 1.5 pounds of turkey for each guest, if you are serving turkey. I’d go a little on the lower side, buying a slightly smaller bird, unless you are really attached to leftovers. (You can really stretch a bird out for a week or more with soup, sandwiches, broth, casseroles – I’m not getting into that here. )
Lots of Veggies I’d make an absolutely huge bowl of homemade mashed potatoes. I mean really, what’s cheaper than potatoes? (In my family, my grandmother “Mimi” had a giant bowl that was reserved for mashed potatoes – and only on Thanksgiving and Christmas. That bowl must have held a full gallon of potatoes, and darn if it didn’t always get emptied. The kids loved making a pond for the gravy…)
Frozen vegetables instead of raw can save you money, and lots of time in preparation. Adding just a little spice or special ingredient makes an ordinary dish of frozen veggies into a real treat.
Last year, I took some steamed green beans, and added a drizzle of maple syrup and some ground fennel seed and WOW… even the fussy kid who didn’t like green beans wolfed down a helping. (I didn’t have almonds handy – sure slivered almonds are a traditional fave.)
When buying for the feast, be sure and use your coupons. Don’t expect many doubling opportunities during this season, but many stores will have a promotion where you can get a free turkey! Check out your usual store and see what they have to offer. And when you get your circulars, do most of your price shopping at home, and know where you are going to buy.
Be sure and check to see if any of the local stores do price matching. This can save a LOT of time and gas.
Two of the areas that people traditionally overspend are on beverages, and desserts.
Beverages tend to be a bit pricey. If you are serving wine, go ahead and buy the box. It’s a lot cheaper, and put in a festive decanter no one will know. Coffee, tea, iced tea are all options and relatively inexpensive when compared to bottled beverages like apple cider or cranberry juice. (Although I’ve had some cranberry juice concentrates that are absolutely delicious at about half the price- look around.) There are even some very good hot apple spice mixes for a reasonable price.
The working concept here is that powdered drinks are much cheaper. You don’t want to pay for water and packaging if you can mix it up cheaper at home. And you don’t have to sacrifice taste!If you have the table settings, a water glass in addition to a beverage glass will help cut down on the volume of beverages you need to buy.
One of the traditional beverages at our Thanksgiving is egg nog. And due to popular demand by kids and adults alike, we cut the egg nog in half with milk before serving. Most of us think the prepackaged egg nogs are too thick. The savings is just a bonus. (And making egg nog from scratch makes me a little nervous….)
Desserts are a no brainer. If you are having guests, ask them to bring a favorite homemade dessert. If this is not your style, then remember one word. “Scratch.” Yes, scratch. Challenge yourself to make a dessert from scratch. Believe me it’s not that hard. Even I was able to make a delicious mile high apple pie. Pumpkin pies are relatively easy to make also – you did save an uncarved pumpkin from Halloween didn’t you?
And decorations… if you have kids, let them go wild and make decorations for a week or two before T-day. Construction paper, scissors, and glue. Simple. My nieces absolutely love creating place markers with the guests names on them. Keeps them busy. For your centerpiece, instead of ordering a floral bouquet from the local shop, how about gathering your own selection of dried wildflowers, acorns, leaves or other decorations from nature. Place them in a festive transparent vase, or even a clear bowl. (It’ll probably have to come off the table when all the food arrives anyway!)
Just do a little pre-holiday thinking, and you can come up with some of your own Thanksgiving saving ideas.
Comment here and share some of your own tips for saving money and still celebrating in style!