Thanksgiving is a time to gather with family and friends to enjoy a wonderful meal and create lasting memories. Unfortunately, it can also be an opportunity to create lasting debt. The pressure to put together a picture-perfect Thanksgiving feast can be temptation to blow the budget and reach for the credit card. You’ll be much happier if you clear your head, take a deep breath and follow these tips for Thanksgiving on a budget.
Set a Budget
Plan your menu, then plan your budget and stick to it. The good news is, most of the traditional Thanksgiving foods will be on sale at some point during the month. You’re sure to find coupons for the items you need, too. And don’t forget to shop from a list to reduce impulse purchases.
Choose Frozen Over Fresh
Choosing a frozen turkey over a fresh one leaves more room in your budget for the rest of the meal. Once it’s cooked and surrounded by savory side dishes, no one will be able to tell the difference. Just remember to allow plenty of time to thaw it out safely before cooking.
Cook from Scratch
Homemade side dishes and desserts are less expensive and far more delicious than packaged or prepared versions. Some of the most popular Thanksgiving dishes including sweet potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie are easy to prepare (even for novice cooks) and taste so good you’ll never go back to the canned, boxed or frozen versions.
Make it a Group Effort
If you’re having guests over, give them a chance to share a favorite recipe by asking them to bring a side dish or dessert (make non-cooks responsible for wine, sparkling cider and other beverages). You’ll end up with loads of great food and much less work, plus you’ll save by only being responsible for a portion of the meal’s total cost.
Go for DIY Décor
The food is the superstar of any Thanksgiving table, but a few special touches will definitely up the festive factor. Fortunately, Mother Nature provides plenty to work with this time of year. Arrange mini pumpkins (which ring in at less than $5 per bag) and a few pillar candles into a simple centerpiece and scatter a few bright, autumn leaves around the table. And don’t worry about matching every piece of china or table linen – an eclectic mix of styles and colors looks chic and bohemian.