Thanksgiving is a time to relax and enjoy a nice dinner with your loved ones. You don't want to spend it stressing over the Thanksgiving budget -- you want to spend it having an enjoyable day with friends and relatives, and relaxing on the couch with a tryptophan-induced nap.
Try these tips to save big bucks on your holiday spread and avoid worrying about holiday budgeting woes.
1. Host a potluck
Split the mealtime burden up by making Thanksgiving a potluck dinner. Not only will this distribute the economic burden among the Thanksgiving table, it offers a chance for new and interesting side dishes and desserts. You may end up with some tasty variations that become new family traditions.
You may want to coordinate the dishes with all of the expected guests so you don't end up with 15 desserts and no side dishes. Not that there's anything wrong with 15 desserts, but some of your guests may insist on something a little more substantial.
2. Shop early, shop wisely
Map out your grocery list well before Thanksgiving Day, see what you already have in the pantry, and purchase the rest as you find suitable bargains. Most of your needs for the side dishes will keep for some time, and you may be able to find a deal on a frozen turkey well before the holiday. If you wait until the last minute, you may end up paying a holiday premium.
If you are hosting a large group, buy your supplies in bulk from warehouse stores or check for bulk bargains at your local grocery store. You may also find useful coupons in your paper, in grocery store flyers, or at online coupon sites.
3. Keep decorations simple
You really do not need extravagant decorations to make the holiday special. Make your own simple decorations with whatever you have to work with. Natural decorations such as small gourds, pinecones, and leaves can make a festive centerpiece. Check out dollar stores and thrift stores if you want to supplement this with inexpensive store-bought decorations.
After the holiday, you can check craft and hobby stores for discounted Thanksgiving decorations that you can store and use for next year -- although you may want to wait until after the craziness of Black Friday settles down.
4. Don't prepare too much food
Leftovers are a typical Thanksgiving tradition (as is overeating), but traditions are no reason to fix far more food than everyone will eat. Quite a few leftovers go to waste every year, as families get sick of eating the same things day after day.
If you have an accurate head count for the holiday, you should have a pretty good idea of how much food to prepare. You can also have creative backup plans for any leftovers instead of just living off turkey sandwiches. Consider using your leftover turkey creatively by including it in casseroles and salads, or perhaps a nice turkey chili.
5. No disposables!
Paper plates and plastic utensils may save some cleanup time, but they are an unnecessary expense. Besides, the Thanksgiving holiday is a perfect time to break out the good china and fancy glassware and serving trays.