Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks for food on the table, shelter over your head, and a warm bed to sleep in. This year, we want you to be able to add “saving money on my Thanksgiving feast” to the list.
7 tips to save money on Thanksgiving dinner
1. Get everyone involved and host a potluck
Usually, whoever hosts Thanksgiving dinner is stuck with cooking most of the meal while a couple guests bring a single pie or bottle of wine. So why not host a potluck dinner where everyone brings his or her favorite dish? Your guests will almost certainly love to pitch in and be happy to help. Potlucks are a great way to spread out the food costs and significantly minimize the amount of time the host spends in the kitchen cooking and cleaning.
2. Plan out your dishes early to help you shop smarter
Stores usually hike up their prices around the holidays, so this is the perfect time to use coupons and find deals on foods that don’t necessarily need to stay fresh. This article on About.com shares some great websites where you can find coupons on turkeys, stuffing, pie crusts, and much more. Of course another way to save is to make your own dishes instead of buying more expensive pre-made ones. (For homemade stuffing, freeze the ends of your bread now and you can turn them into breadcrumbs next week.)
3. Score a free or super cheap turkey by thinking ahead
There are a few different ways you can go home with a free or extremely cheap turkey this Thanksgiving:
* Some grocery stores give away turkeys to customers who spend a certain amount on other items.
* Many local businesses have turkey promotions to get you in the door (i.e. a car dealership may offer you a turkey in exchange for test driving one of their cars).
* Other organizations will also hand out free turkeys to lure people in (like this South Bend, MI medical center who is giving blood donors a coupon for a free turkey when they donate).
So keep your eyes and ears open, and you’re sure to find a turkey at little-to-no cost.
4. Buy produce that is in season
Not only will you spend a fortune if you’re constantly buying food that is out of season, but it also just doesn’t taste as good. This seasonal ingredient map from Epicurious allows you to search ingredients by state and time of year to make sure you’re always buying the freshest and cheapest foods.
5. Skip the appetizers
Think about it: you’re about to have an enormous meal (possibly the largest you’ll eat all year) and you want to munch on appetizers? Skipping the hors d’œuvres and jumping right into your main course will spare you preparation time and money. Besides, why would you want to ruin your Thanksgiving appetite?
6. Keep your menu simple
Do you remember the acronym “KISS” (Keep It Simple, Silly)? This saying can apply to almost anything, including holiday meals. You really don’t need two potato dishes, four casseroles, and three different desserts. Stick to the basics to save time and money.
Think back to past Thanksgiving dinners as well—if there were dishes that weren’t eaten but you keep making for tradition’s sake, skip them this year.
7. Dress up your table with inexpensive DIY centerpieces
Since everyone is gathered around the dining room table, the centerpiece is the most important decoration on Thanksgiving. Don’t rush to the craft store or department store and spend a fortune making your table beautiful—you can find almost everything you need around the house or even in your backyard! Here are a few of our favorite budget centerpiece and place setting ideas that use items you already have:
* Ribbon around silverware
* Autumn leaf table runner with nuts in glass & flowers
* Pumpkin and twig centerpiece
* Floating candles