The holiday season has begun and next up to the plate (pun intended) is Thanksgiving! If you find yourself as a host this year don’t stress we’re here to help. There are tweaks and tricks to hosting the most fabulous of Thanksgiving meals while staying on budget. Here they are!
- Now is the time to get out and shop, but you need to be smart about it. If you have a game plan the grocery store will be a breeze. Let’s start here:
- The pantry – Before you leave your house stop by the 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 free!
- Free Bird – Not only is it everyone’s favorite Lynyrd Skynyrd song but a great Thanksgiving perk. Check out all the ways you can eat your turkey free of charge.
- 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.
- Gives thanks to the season. Tailor your dishes around what’s being harvested this time of year. Simple ingredients at the peak of harvest will surely wow your guests.
- There are many ways to make your home look like a featured home on HGTV without breaking the bank. Here’s how to dress up your décor on the cheap:
- 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.
- 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 and neighborhood. Set up a corner of your home as a craft area and allow their creativity 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 and being a great host!
- 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. Here’s how to Potluck in style:
- 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.
- Trying to stock your bar to fit everyone’s cocktail taste will send your budget out the door. There are three easy ways to skirt around this issue. Let’s drink and be merry:
- Make a signature cocktail – There are infinite websites available that have suggestions and provide recipes. The best part is you can make large batches of your cocktail to set out instead of making individual cocktails. You can get creative and come up a catchy name or have a fun “name the drink” game. As the evening goes on the names will surely become more festive. A prize may be the winner carves the turkey next year.
- Box wine – Nobody needs to know. Giving your guests a choice of one red and one white will be enough. Combine with the first suggestion to make a festive fall sangria!
- Buy in bulk – When you are at the liquor store ask if there is any discount if you buy it by the case. Also, check the sales flyers. You can find great deals, especially around the holidays.
- Volunteer at a local food shelter or church. 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.
- Think outside the box. With families being busy and having to schedule relatives joining from out of town you may consider moving Thanksgiving to the weekend. If all else fails:
- Cheaper flights. This move may help those out of town guests with their expenses by offering cheaper flights and use of frequent flyer miles that are usually blacked out, but it may help you save money as well.
- 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.
Other Cost-Saving Measures for Thanksgiving and Beyond –
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. Many times, if a person purchases a large turkey, a lot of the things that can be used to make side dishes are included for free with the purchase of the turkey. Be sure to view several sale advertisements before deciding where to purchase the groceries for the meal. Oftentimes, a person can save $10 or more just by shopping at various stores for the best prices.
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 macaroni and cheese. 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.
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. However, if the meal is not free, restaurants should be avoided at Thanksgiving. It is still cheaper for a person to create their own holiday meal than it is to have someone else make it for them.