Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday. You can get the entire family together and do what we all love doing most, eat. Many times we are even able to navigate the entire holiday without a family blowup.
Whether your family is going to play nice together or not may be up in the air but there is one thing that you know for sure, you are going to spend a lot of money. Thanksgiving can get expensive and the expenses can get out of hand in a hurry. Keep from going broke this year by taking into consideration some simple to implement tips. Here are our best ones.
1. Make It Strictly BYOB
Food is expensive enough, if you have to provide alcohol, your budget will quickly skyrocket.
If you figure $10 a person for alcohol, that is $200 in cash just for a simple gathering of 20 adults. That is an expense that you should not have to take on, especially if you are providing a place for the meal and all or most of the food.
Make it known that if you want to drink, you need to bring your own beer wine or liquor and some for the host wouldn’t hurt either.
2. Buy A Cheap Bird
You do not need to buy the most expensive turkey on the market. In fact, you can get a fairly cheap one if you shop the sales.
Most stores will feature turkeys as a loss leader. They sell it for pennies for the pound, just to get you into the door to buy other, more expensive items. Some stores will even offer free turkeys if you are a rewards member or spend a certain amount of money on other items.
Do not be afraid to serve a simple store brand bird. If you cook it right and possibly even throw it in a cheap brine overnight, the result can still be outstanding.
3. Borrow What You Need
If you are hosting, especially for the first time, you are going to need a lot of things. You will need serving ware, tablecloths and possibly extra seating and/or tables.
The temptation is to go out and buy this stuff, but this can be extremely expensive in the end. Why take out a $500 loan to buy stuff that you will never use again.
Instead of buying what you need, borrow it. Many families rotate their Thanksgiving dinners and you probably have a friend or several friends that will have things they can spare. If you are on Facebook, put the word out that you are in need of some things.
4. Go Pot Luck
If you make everything on the menu, you are going to need quite the food budget. Mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, turkey, rolls and the huge assortment of desserts that usually come with this holiday can get pricey.
Everyone has their own favorite dish around this time of year, so why not have them bring it. Consider providing the turkey and then letting everyone else bring a dish. You get a nice variety of food, save money and save a lot of work.
In addition, because all of that food will probably arrive with serving ware, it is a llot less things that you need to buy or borrow.
5. Don’t Go Overboard
It is easy to go overboard with Thanksgiving planning. All of a sudden a bird and a few sides turns into a dozen different dishes. This is not only expensive but a royal pain to pull off. Who needs the stress or the expense.
Instead of making everyone’s favorite, concentrate on less sides. It will save you time and money.
In addition, be cautious about the amount that you serve. For example, do not buy a 20 pound bird when a 12 pound one would have done the trick. This goes for the sides too. Do you need 10 pounds of mashed potatoes?
Sure, everyone loves leftovers but it gets old real quick.
6. Fill Them Up On Cheap Staples
Focus on the cheap sides. Think fresh vegetables from a farmers market. Mashed potatoes are one of the cheapest sided you can make and a regular at most Thanksgiving celebrations. They are also very filling.
Add to that some sweet potatoes, a green bean casserole corn and quite frankly, whatever is on sale. As long as your guests have something that they can douse with gravy, they should be good.
7. Serve A Limited Dessert
Pie, that is really all that people want. By the time they get to it, they are already pretty bloated, so there is no need to go too fancy.
Pies are another item that a lot of stores sell as a loss leader this time of year, especially the frozen variety. Don’t bother with trying to make your own desserts, it will cost you more and will be a major time suck.
There is no shame in serving a frozen pie. Top it with a hefty dollop of whipped cream and nobody will be able to tell the difference.
8. Don’t Host
The best advice of all, if you can pull it off, is to simply not host a Thanksgiving meal. The last one I threw ended up costing me about 500 dollars. It seems like a great thing to be the host but you will regret it in the end and will be happy that it is over, when it finally does end.
If you can get out of being the host, do so. If nothing else, and you get stuck with the duties, come up with a rotation so that you do not have to suffer through it every year.