Got birds and budgeting on the brain? You’re not alone. Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and while there’s lots to be excited about for this special day, over-spending can also be a big concern. If you’re hosting the Thanksgiving meal, you might be worried about how to feed everyone without breaking the bank. And, even just attending as a dinner guest comes with its own costs – cooking an extra dish, chipping in for the turkey, or bringing along a bottle of wine or a nice hostess gift.
To reduce some stress so that you can focus on having a fantastic holiday with your friends and family, here are seven saving tips to help you spend less on Thanksgiving costs.
1. Make a Plan
They say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and no matter how many ounces or pounds your turkey weights, this classic quotations definitely applies to Thanksgiving budgeting! Before you head to the grocery store, sit down and make a feasible budget for all your turkey day spending. Don’t estimate too low, or you’ll be tempted to throw the whole thing out the window. Instead, make a realistic budget based on what you’ve spent in years past, and if possible, check out local papers to see what kind of prices you could be looking at this year.
2. Eat In
While it might be tempting to let a local restaurant do the Thanksgiving cooking for you, eating out can quickly turn into a massive expense – from the cost of a multi-course meal, to pricy drinks or corkage, to the gratuity you’ll no doubt want to offer the hard-working wait staff on Thanksgiving day. That’s why eating at home is one of the best saving tips for a less pricey Thanksgiving. And if you’re not a fantastic chef, why not have a semi-homemade meal? A pre-roasted turkey plus deli sides will still cost far less than the entire tab, tip and drinks at a restaurant.
3. Ask Everyone to Do Their Part
Potluck meals are a fantastic time and money saver for everyone – and as an added bonus, a potluck meal is an amazing chance to mix and match Thanksgiving traditions from lots of different families. If you’re organizing the meal, use an online turkey day dinner planner to help you assign different dishes to different people, so that you don’t end up with three pumpkin pies and no mashed potatoes. Guests who aren’t so confident in the kitchen can contribute non-food items like napkins and wine, or be in charge of paying for ingredients purchased by those doing the majority of the cooking.
4. Hang On to Leftovers
If you make good use of your turkey day leftovers, you’ll find that Thanksgiving practically pays for itself! From turkey sandwiches to potato soup made from leftover mash, there are endless ways to use up those leftovers and save money in the coming weeks. Nowadays it’s quite common for Thanksgiving guests to show up with their own Tupperware so that the host can distribute leftovers evenly; so don’t feel embarrassed about bringing an extra container to the meal so that you can put this saving tip into practice.
5. Expect the Unexpected
When planning a big event like Thanksgiving, last minute costs will likely arise. Uncle Theo might show up a day early and suggest a big family brunch, or cousin Amy could arrive with her new boyfriend in tow and a previously undisclosed allergy to gluten – sending you running to the grocery store for a last-minute shopping trip. While you can’t completely plan ahead, you can put aside some of your turkey day budget for unexpected expenses. And if you don’t end up using this budgeting cushion, it means more money for the December holiday season just ahead.
6. Do the Décor Yourself
DIY décor is not only less expensive; it’s often better looking, and better for the environment. Check out the local plant life around your neighborhood and see if there are any colorful winter herbs in bloom for natural decorations; red and yellow leaves to create an autumn-themed wreathe; or even just a few attractive twigs which can be wrapped in twine with nametags to designate place settings at the table. Seasonal produce such as apples or pumpkins, layered together in a large dish, can also make for an attractive – and low-cost – Thanksgiving centerpiece.
7. Don’t Stick to Tradition
Your top cost saving tip for Thanksgiving is also one of the most fun – make new traditions! Swap the turkey for a couple of juicy roast chickens; replace the tablecloth with a piece of butcher paper where guests can write what they’re thankful for; or ditch the traditional dinner altogether in favor of a group volunteer session at the local soup kitchen. There are myriad ways to make the Thanksgiving holiday your own, so don’t be afraid to spend less in order to have a holiday you will truly be thankful for.