Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks, overeat, and spend time with family – but it isn’t cheap.
After jumping 13 percent from 2010 to 2011, this year the price to provide a feast for ten will rise by only $.28 from last year to $49.48, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation.
Luckily, there are simple ways to keep Turkey Day from taking a bite out of your family fun. Here are some money-saving tips for Thanksgiving…
1. Make a list
It’s easy to overspend when shopping for a much anticipated holiday dinner. Make a list of what you’ll need and exactly how much, and be sure to stick to it when you’re in the store.
2. Don’t forget store promotions and coupons
Keep an eye out for special coupons and promotions around Thanksgiving. Some stores offer a free turkey if you spend a certain amount of money. ShopRite, for example, is offering a free turkey or ham to customers who spend more than $300 between Oct. 14 and Nov. 22.
3. Know price matching policies
Find out if there are any stores nearby that will match advertised prices from competitors. Do the bulk of your shopping there – just don’t forget to bring your coupons.
4. Choose one meat…
For many, turkey is obligatory on Thanksgiving. What isn’t essential, however, is ham, lamb, and prime rib. Save money by simply choosing turkey or another type of meat for your family’s feast.
5. …and buy the right amount of it
Buy the right amount of turkey by counting 1 pound per person. If you want some leftovers, calculate more than 1 pound per person. Also remember that if you load up on side dishes, you can probably get away with less turkey.
6. Consider a frozen turkey
Buy a frozen turkey, and you could save 30 to 40 percent more than you would if you bought a fresh one. Just be sure to follow through with the necessary preparation. You’ll need three to five days to let it thaw.
7. Balance your side dishes and desserts
Whipping up a bowl of mashed potatoes is cheaper than cooking a seven-layer sweet potato casserole. Serve the essentials (green beans, stuffing, and cranberry sauce), and go light on the more expensive dishes that require several ingredients.
Of course, dessert is just as important as the dinner itself. Luckily, pumpkin pie and cookies are crowd pleasers, and they’re inexpensive to bake.
8. Be smart about beverages
Visit a wholesale liquor store, and take advantage of sales. Don’t overlook boxed wine either – on average, one box of wine is equivalent to four bottles. Boxed wine often costs $20 or less, which is the equivalent price of $5 per bottle. Serve it in a decanter, and no one will ever know the difference.
For the non-alcoholic drinkers and little ones, serve coffee, tea, or Kool-Aid, which are all cheaper than serving soda.
9. Have a BYOD (Bring Your Own Dish) party
Asking friends and family to bring a dish is a great way to mix things up. Plus, it relieves some of the meal’s financial burden on the host.
One way to go about this is asking guests to bring a type of dish, rather than a specific one. For example, you can suggest that some guests bring an appetizer, while others contribute a side dish or a dessert. Of course, there’s no shame in asking Aunt Sally to bring her legendary apple strudel either.
10. Use DIY decorations
If you’re hosting Thanksgiving dinner, you’ll inevitably want to decorate. But this doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll need to splurge on decor. Instead, make use of everyday items in your home or shop at the dollar store.
Consider using drinking glasses as candle holders (turn the glasses upside down), or dress up a pitcher with a simple cloth napkin. Also, go outside. There are plenty of things to do with all the red and orange leaves and acorns in your backyard.
Metallic pumpkins are another inexpensive decoration. Buy a few pumpkins at your local pumpkin patch, and spray them with metallic paint.
Amanda Geronikos is a writer for Money Talks News, a consumer/personal finance TV news feature that airs in about 80 cities as well as around the Web. This column first appeared in Money Talks News.