To help you entertain your guests and still have a happy Thanksgiving, here is a list of ways to save money on this holiday.
1. Have a potluck. You don’t have to do all the cooking yourself; make the lazy bums do some of the work! Just ask your guests to pitch in by bringing a meal to share. To avoid having several people bring the same dish, create a master menu and have guests choose from that menu. You could focus on the main dish, the turkey, and have others bring side dishes and desserts. This is a great way to offset some of your costs.
2. Check your pantry first. I know a few people who went Thanksgiving shopping and loaded up on food, only to figure out that they had the same exact stuff sitting in their pantry. Do you have any Thanksgiving-type ingredients hiding in your pantry? These can include canned goods, breadcrumbs, and other items.
3. Buy nonperishable items in bulk. If you have items that you will use throughout the year, take this time to buy them in bulk. Head over to your local warehouse club to buy items such as sugar, canned goods, flour and candy. These are things that you can keep in your pantry for a few months anyway.
4. Bake the desserts yourself. No prefab stuff this Thanksgiving! Take the flour and sugar that you get in bulk and make your own desserts. If you buy them pre-made, you will pay a premium at the store. It should cost you about fifty cents to prepare yellow cake mix, whereas you would pay about three times that much at a grocery store. Also, try to have all of your pies go in the oven at the same time to save on your energy bill.
5. Serve boxed wine. Boxed wine is much cheaper than bottle wine. On average, one box will be the equivalent of four bottles. If your guests give you any flack, tell them that it’s better for the environment, since many places won’t recycle green glass. If your guests are too uppity for boxed wine, go ahead and put it in an old bottle. Numerous taste tests have shown that people can’t tell the difference anyway.
6. Make double batches. Try to cook as much food as you can and leave what you don’t eat for leftovers. You can freeze some and have it for later.
7. Check store promotions. During the Thanksgiving season, stores typically have promotions that will give you a free turkey after spending a predetermined amount of money during a certain timeframe, say, $300 in three weeks. Figure out if your local stores have anything of this sort, and see if it would be worth it for you to reach the spending threshold. You might be able to do it easily.
8. Wait until Saturday. It might be better for you to have your Thanksgiving meal on Saturday anyway. By doing this, you can catch all the day-after bargains. Here’s another plus – people might have a “big” dinner on Thursday, leaving you with less pressure to prepare a huge feast.
9. Skip the meal altogether and volunteer. Why not lend a helping hand? Charities, meal delivery services, and soup kitchens urgently need volunteers on Thanksgiving. You be able to skip the buying, cooking, and cleaning to be reminded how blessed you really are. Plus, since Thanksgiving is about spending time with friends and family, see if you can get them to volunteer with you.