Thanksgiving is often treated as the beginning of the Christmas shopping season, with many stores now opening in the evening for what was traditionally a day off for workers. That’s an unfortunate change that affects millions of Americans, people who may forget that the holiday provides a nonsectarian way for everyone to give thanks to God for His abundant blessings.
For those of us planning to celebrate Thanksgiving as it was intended, we’ll be gathering with family and friends to mark the occasion. Whether you are hosting or visiting, there are several ways you can save money this Thanksgiving.
1. Make a plan. Will you be hosting or will you be visiting someone this Thanksgiving? Either way, there likely will be a big meal planned, perhaps with 10 or more people on hand. That’s a lot of turkey and fixings to be served. If you are hosting, nail down who will attend and then start your plans. If you are visiting, plan on bringing a dish or a dessert with you. Your host(ess) will tell you what is appropriate.
2. Set a budget. How much can you spend this Thanksgiving? Will it be $50? Perhaps $100? Maybe more? It is reasonable to work within a budget, but that does not mean that you must bear the full expense alone. Moreover, your guests may want to bring something with them, to make your dinner a special one. As the host, you can supply the turkey and the main items, leaving the desserts, wine and snacks to others to bring.
3. Start shopping now. Weeks before Thanksgiving, supermarkets begin to offers specials on Thanksgiving items. Cans of cranberry sauce. A bag of potatoes. Pumpkin and apple pie. Even the delicious turkey that will grace your table will go on sale. You just need to track those supermarket circulars and be prepared to make a jump on what goes on sale. If you think about it, some of those items you’ll be serving at Christmas too, so stock up and save.
4. Meat matters. You can easily pay quite a bit for meat these days even with deals on turkey. You’ll find, however, that not everyone likes turkey. Further, you may also find that it is cheaper to serve cutlets with no fat or bones to mess with. Consider buying a smaller turkey and a ham, figuring on a pound of meat for each person present. With 12 people, you’ll need 12 pounds of meet, not the 18-pound dried out turkey that some people will serve.
5. Your other dishes. If your crowd consists of mainly vegetarians, then they won’t touch the meat. That means you can up the quantity of vegetables, choosing green beans, peas, squash, broccoli, beets and carrots that many people enjoy. Going heavier on the other dishes including your breads and snacks will save you money. It just may prove to be a crowd pleaser too.
6. Plates and such. If you already have a china set and flatware, then you won’t need to buy those items. If you’re short on these things, then try to borrow what you want first. Otherwise, it can be perfectly acceptable to use disposable plates and flatware for Thanksgiving. Simply opt for the highest quality items such as Chinet plates and heavy duty cutlery. You can also buy from your local dollar store serving platters and dishes, and decorations.
7. Decoration ideas. You’ll be decorating your home for Thanksgiving, but you do not need to go overboard. Concentrate on making the table and the server the focal point of your celebration. Homemade decorations including the name settings and centerpieces your children make at school can be fun additions to any table. You can also add gourds and acorns to a clear bowl and put that on display.
One of the most expensive items that will be served are drinks, especially anything alcoholic. As the host, you can provide the punch and leave the wine to your guests to bring. If they decline, you’ll have a delicious drink to serve up with the meal and you can brew coffee afterwards. Provide one dessert, such as pumpkin pie, and invite your guests to bake or buy their favorite Thanksgiving treats.
See Also — How to Spend the Thanksgiving Holiday