Thanksgiving On A Budget

Thanksgiving On A Budget

by Steve Gamel

Everyone naturally thinks big, big, big when it comes to Thanksgiving. After all, they don’t call it “a feast” for nothing, right? But when you’re on a budget, finding ways to trim the fat without sacrificing all the things that make Turkey Day great for the entire family can get complicated.

To help eliminate those concerns, here are 10 tips to do Thanksgiving on a budget.

Make a plan:
Start by listing out all the things you know you’ll need for the big day and then add in what you might need. Remember, Thanksgiving celebrations aren’t just about Turkey Day itself; if you have family coming into town, you’ll need to prep for several days – possibly an entire week. That includes the food, alcohol, decorations, entertainment, extra supplies for sleeping arrangements, etc. Set a tentative plan for how you’d like to see the week go, and prepare accordingly.

Set a budget and stick to it:
Sit down with your significant other weeks ahead of time and put a specific budget together. Once you do that, start assigning costs to whatever items you need to purchase; if anything falls outside the budget, you’ll know right away what you need to eliminate or cut down on.

Make it a potluck:
If your budget is razor thin this year, consider asking guests to do their part in the name of ensuring everyone has a glorious FEAST. There’s no greater feeling than being able to delegate, and at this time of the year, most people are more than happy to contribute by bringing their favorite dish or dessert. The less you have to make, the better.

Shop smart:
The local grocery stores are bound to have deals here and there, especially in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving. Check online, get a rewards card, check the newspaper and your mailbox for coupons, and even sign up for emails. Along with this, while fresh foods sound better, they can also be more expensive. Things like cranberry sauce or pumpkin pie filling can be bought in a can. Shhhhh – we won’t tell on you.

Take stock of your guest list:
There’s a tendency to go overboard with Thanksgiving, so be mindful of your guest list. There’s no need to buy enough food to feed 20 people if it’s only going to be your family of three and grandma and grandpa.

Cook from scratch instead of buying prepackaged:
If you are making a salad, a bag of salad costs $2.50 per bag, and it barely feeds three people. If you buy a stalk of romaine lettuce for .99-$1.99, you can feed at least six people. You pay for convenience. Now that’s not always the case for every food, but you get the point. Compare prices to see if it’s more cost effective to make a dish from scratch.

Save on drinks by making dinner BYOB:
Everyone loves to partake in a few alcoholic beverages during the holidays. If you’re planning on having a big crowd, make it a BYOB event. If you don’t want to go that far, at least consider limiting how much alcohol you buy. If your guests want more, they can go buy more – most people are not going to complain.

Repurpose older decorations:
This isn’t just for decorations but also anything you might have buried in the cabinets or in a hall closet that you could repurpose. See what you can make with what you’ve already got lying around. You’d be surprised what you still have, and doing so will help keep yourself under budget.

Prioritize the side dishes:
Pick the sides you think would be best and stick to two or three of those rather than five or six. This really comes into play when you know you won’t be entertaining a large crowd.

Go basic with entertainment:
Think in terms of what we’ve already taught you about potluck and BYOB. There’s always football or great old-school holiday movies to watch on television, and almost everyone has board games lying around. There’s no need to go out and buy anything fancy – just use your surroundings.

What tips do you have to make Thanksgiving more budget-friendly? Share them with us on our Facebook page.

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