Four frugal ways to celebrate Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving evokes images of stuffed turkey, family reunions, football, gifts, shopping and, more. But Thanksgiving does not need to be expensive. By incorporating smart money habits into a holiday made for rich experiences, you’ll have all of the ingredients for a perfect holiday.

AP Photo/The Fort Worth Star-Telegram/Joyce Marshall/file
Dallas Cowboys NFL football player Tyler Patmon, right, laughs with Shatoya Thomas and her son Skylar as players and cheerleaders serve an early Thanksgiving dinner at the Salvation Army in Fort Worth, Texas on November 17, 2014.

According to a recent fun facts bulletin by the Census Bureau, more than 4 million U.S. households will have at least three generations under a single roof this Thanksgiving. Of those I’m honored to help navigate through financial difficulty, seven out of every 10 families will celebrate multiple generations around beautifully trussed tabletops; the more giving, the greater the thanks.

So, how can you celebrate community with an abundance of guests, gratitude and spirit on Thanksgiving—and save money at the same time? Here are four ways to celebrate with your family and preserve your cash.

1. Suggest a memory-food-based communal dinner.

A client asked people coming to Thanksgiving to bring their best memory-inspired comfort food or baked good. Everybody was asked to share the warm memories behind their contribution. Money was saved, as the cost of the feast was spread among 20 guests, but the spiritual enrichment of “breaking bread” over stories of times past was priceless to all who attended (including me). There was an abundance of macaroni and cheese and pizza, yet nobody cared. It was a Thanksgiving celebration like no other.

2. Give a little, feel a lot.

Establish a tradition of contributing to charitable causes with your children and grandchildren. For example, every year my daughter and I make cash donations to the local food bank, and we offer food and time contributions to the county animal shelter. Keep in mind that your donations may be tax deductible if the IRS considers the organization eligible. Check with your tax advisor or Publication 526 to confirm whether or not they qualify.

3. Gather holiday décor from the backyard or local park.

A remarried couple used the holiday to encourage bonding among the young children from their previous marriages. The kids gathered branches and colorful leaves and spray painted them. They also made scented pine cones as table decorations. There’s no need to spend money on expensive crafts for Thanksgiving decorations or activities for the family.

4. Create a holiday spending game plan.

After dinner, the guests will be gone and there’ll be a couple of hours to unwind; it’s quiet time to check out the Black Friday deals and begin figuring out your gift budget. It’s also an opportunity to research your favorite retailers’ specials and download free Black Friday smartphone apps to notify you of deals from area retailers.

Thanksgiving doesn’t need to be expensive. By incorporating smart money habits into a holiday made for rich experiences, you’ll have all of the ingredients for a perfect holiday.

The post 4 Frugal Ways to Celebrate Thanksgiving appeared first on NerdWallet News. Learn more about Richard on NerdWallet’s Ask an Advisor.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.