Shoestring Living: Be thankful for the money you’ll save this Thanksgiving
As I mentioned last week, I love Thanksgiving. It seems to be the one holiday our family is sure to host from year-to-year. To me, there’s nothing like the aromas and tastes of the day, the sounds of a football game in the background and the sight of my husband and his tasseled winter hat manning the turkey fryer in the bitter Chicago wind. This year, we’ll be having about 30 guests for dinner.
But this time around, our budget is tighter than in years’ past, posing a big challenge to this entertaining junkie. I can’t bear the thought of running out of food. I struggle to say “no” to special décor and like to pull together recipes with way more ingredients than servings. This year, I’ll implement a few strategies to ensure that I stay within the entertaining budget and get to enjoy myself a bit, too.
Can you say potluck? This is a hard one to swallow for some, but there’s really no reason for us to do it all. Having the guests bring their favorite Thanksgiving dish to share is a great way to get them involved in this holiday focused on togetherness. Once they let me know what they’re bringing, I can manage what we need as other guests respond. If you’re shooting to save, don’t fall into a trap that has caught me time and time again. I tend to fill in every imaginable hole in the menu from my own kitchen. I need to remember that it will still be Thanksgiving without my sausage stuffing as long as there is someone’s stuffing.
Plan early and shop ahead: These two definitely go hand in hand. Once you know what you’re guests are contributing, you can finalize your list. The earlier you do this, the earlier you can be on the lookout for sales on Thanksgiving staples like flour, butter, sugar and the day’s star performer, the turkey. Prices definitely climb as the holiday approaches, so watch flyers closely. This means now - this week is the time to find the best deals.
Decorate with an earthy flair: In the past, I’ve been guilty of running out at the last minute and spending too much money for fresh flowers or matching napkins. This year, I’ve vowed to work with what I’ve got, no matter what. My table will be mismatched, but things will all be in the same color family. I think that’s doable for most of us as we collect similar items over time. There won’t be flowers, but there will be various twigs and leaves collected from the outdoors and arranged creatively. I’ll throw some candles into the mix and likely some oranges and apples, prime for double duty as snacks the following week. Take a look around; I’m sure you’ll be surprised at what you can do with items already on hand.
Molly Logan Anderson is a freelance writer who lives in the western suburbs of Chicago with her husband, Mike, three kids and a black lab. Join Molly and her family on their journey of living a frugal life and making financial freedom their reality.