The holiday season has begun and next up to the plate is Thanksgiving! If you find yourself as a host this year or you are deciding to just stay home, don’t stress because we’re here to help. There are tips and tricks to hosting the most fabulous of Thanksgiving meals while staying on budget. With many family dinners being a lot smaller this year due to the pandemic, saving money on Thanksgiving should be a breeze!

Let’s start here:

The pantry – Before you leave your house stop by your own pantry and see what you already have. It’s a great way to cross basic items off your list and the best part is that it’s all free!

Buy a smaller bird – The pandemic is making the family gatherings look a bit different this year. But that means you can buy a much smaller turkey and save some money in the process.

Be a world traveler – Ethnic grocery stores are a hidden gem for those in the know. You’ll find great buys on fresh produce, herbs, spices, and more.

Give thanks –  Plan your dishes around what’s being harvested this time of year. Simple ingredients at the peak of harvest will surely wow the family.

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How to dress up your décor on the cheap:

Table centerpiece – While you are at the grocery store or farmers’ market grab a few extra handfuls of produce you are already using in your recipes. You can arrange your table’s centerpiece enticing your guests on the amazing dishes that await them.

Use nature – Take a walk outside, but bring along a tote. It will give you time to relax and while admiring the autumnal foliage you can pick up the bounty of gifts nature gives away during autumn along the way. Decorating your home with nature will give your home an added element of warmth and coziness.

Get the kids involved – Use this time as a bonding moment with the children in your family. Set up a corner of your home as a craft area and allow their creativity to fly. Remember the fun hand turkeys you made as a kid? It’s a win for everyone. The kids will take pride in their crafts and enjoy showing off their art hung around the house. This will free up much needed time allowing yourself to focus on cooking!

Here’s how to Potluck in style:

Gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, paleo, keto, nut-free, etc. The list of allergies and diet trends can be overwhelming and hard to accommodate all of your guests. Having a potluck will ensure guests with dietary needs will have a dish they can eat and cut your costs drastically.

  • Pick a theme and think about the flow of the food when placing it out.
  • Don’t forget the labels so everyone knows what everything is.
  • Don’t forget plates, cups, napkins, and utensils.

With each guest bringing his or her own food dish, the host or hostess can save a lot of money by not having to purchase a lot of groceries for the meal. This practice also saves the host or hostess time as they don’t have to spend a lot of time in the kitchen preparing multiple dishes.

Some more money savings ideas:

Volunteer at a local food shelter – Being able to feed those in need doesn’t cost you anything and you and your family will be thankful for many years to come. Give back to give more thanks! Become a part of Feeding America to volunteer at soup kitchens, food pantries, and other meal programs.

Hit the stores –  The day after Thanksgiving, stores are looking to get rid of Thanksgiving themed décor marking their price down significantly. What was a hot ticket item two days ago is now being sold at 50% off or more! This goes for supermarkets as well. The stores are practically giving away cans of cranberries or boxes of stuffing mix. Using this to your advantage will make you the savviest of shoppers.

Cost-saving measures for the holidays:

There are many ways to save money during the holidays. A lot of folks think that they must spend a lot on the fixings for a Thanksgiving dinner, but ultimately, they don’t have to spend as much as they think they might. Turkeys are typically advertised on sale for 69 cents per pound or less right before the holiday. Be sure to view several sale advertisements before deciding where to purchase the groceries for the meal.

No one should feel that they must prepare fancy dishes for holiday dinners. For example, pecan pie can be quite expensive to make because pecans typically cost a lot. If all a person has in their cupboard is enough to make chocolate chip cookies, then they should serve chocolate chip cookies for dessert. No one is under any obligation to have certain foods for the holidays. Having something as simple as flavored gelatin for dessert is very inexpensive and tasty.

Be aware that some stores sell discounted baked goods that might be cheaper to purchase than to make the same dessert at home. Also, one should not feel that they must have many of the same types of foods. For instance, if a person is making mashed potatoes for a meal, they shouldn’t feel that they must also make sweet potatoes. If an individual is serving turkey, they shouldn’t feel that they need to serve ham as well. Making a lot of extra food dishes can get quite expensive. Sometimes keeping everything simple can save a lot of money and time!

You shouldn’t be tempted to spend every dollar at Black Friday or Cyber Monday sales. Yes, a person can get very good deals at these sales, but oftentimes there are limited quantities of the merchandise the store is offering. Just attending Black Friday sales can lead to overspending. A person might go to the sale planning on purchasing just one item and then end up buying multiple items just because they think they are getting great deals. An individual who is trying to save money should avoid such sales at all costs. Try starting a tradition of volunteering somewhere on Black Friday. Volunteering gives a person something worthwhile to do and keeps them away from all the sales.

Conclusion –

People who don’t have money to make their own Thanksgiving dinner can oftentimes find community centers, churches, restaurants, or other places that are hosting free dinners. If an individual knows that spending money to have a holiday dinner is going to be a financial burden, they should seek out free dinners in their community or ask a different family member to host this year. It is still cheaper for a person to create their own holiday meal than it is to have someone else make it for them in a restaurant. We hope you have a lovely and safe Thanksgiving this year!

Author: Lauralynn Mangis
Lauralynn is the Online Marketing Specialist for Advantage CCS. She is married and has two young daughters. She enjoys writing, reading, hiking, cooking, video games, sewing, and gardening. Lauralynn has a degree in Multimedia Technologies from Pittsburgh Technical College.