It is officially holiday season! I absolutely love this time of the year because it’s a time when family gets together, good food is being shared, and everywhere you go smells really good (don’t act like it’s just me who smells cinnamon everywhere). However, I know this time can also be a bit challenging on the budgets with all of the holiday parties; events and activities; and Christmas shopping. Thanksgiving is especially hard because you get to cook and eat food you normally don’t get to indulge in any other time of the year (or at least I hope you don’t); and you feel compelled to go overboard with all the dishes you want to make and the decorations you want to put up. Don’t let this year’s Thanksgiving Dinner blow your budget and follow these 5 tips for making it through with bare bones.
Tip #1: Determine how much you have to spend | thanksgiving
Before you start planning your meal and sending out the invites, you’ll want to really think about how much you have to spend on everything. The first thing you’ll want to do is look at your monthly budget and determine what amount you feel comfortable with. If you’ve been putting money aside this part should be very simple. Next, write down everything you think you’ll need to have a successful dinner. That includes ingredients, decorations, utensils, etc. Once you’ve come up with that list, start writing down a ball park range of what you think those items will cost. If the total amount is over what you have allotted, start going through the list and eliminate items that aren’t necessary or reducing the anticipated purchase amount. Don’t increase your budget to accommodate the list, rather adjust the list to accommodate your budget.
Tip #2: Plan ahead. Planning ahead is key to having a successful Thanksgiving dinner on a bare bones budget. By planning ahead you give yourself enough time to thoroughly scan your pantry for ingredients you may already have; plan grocery trips around sales and double ad/coupon days; and prep all items to ensure there isn’t anything missing from your list to avoid last minute, costly grocery runs. The best way to plan ahead is to create your menu and invite list early (after you’ve come up with a spending amount, of course), and to stay organized. Have an overall Thanksgiving Dinner grocery list and scratch off items as you go. Don’t rush and definitely bargain shop!
Tip #3: Keep it simple. When your Thanksgiving budget is barely there you might have to compromise on a few dishes. Try to keep your dinner menu simple. Choose classic recipes that require few ingredients and less time for preparation. The turkey is the most expensive item on the menu, so opt for roasted chicken or turkey breast as the main dish instead. Also, stick to recipes you know well to avoid dinner fails and wasted ingredients.
Tip #4: Decorate with DIY’s. If you’re really trying to go all out this Thanksgiving, but don’t have room in your budget to purchase fancy decorations try DIY projects. Use items you already have at home or purchase inexpensive supplies to spruce up your table. If “doing-it-yourself” is not your thing, the dollar store is a great place to find seasonal decorations. With a little bit of creativity, you’ll have your table space looking like something out of Good HouseKeeping Magazine for pennies out of your pocket.
Tip #5: Divide and conquer. Plan to make one main dish and a dessert; and have your guests bring the sides. Going with the potluck option for Thanksgiving dinner not only saves money, but is a fun way to include everyone. It can actually become a family tradition, for example, Uncle Ray can be known for making the best macaroni and cheese while Aunt Betty can’t step foot in the door without her famous mashed potatoes. If you’re going with this option make sure you still stick with a reasonable budget for the dishes you are responsible for because it’s easy to get carried away when you’re only making “one” dish.
What are some ways you save money on Thanksgiving dinner? Does the smell of cinnamon make you want to buy more holiday stuff? Let me know in the comments section below!