Last Minute #SavingsTips for Thanksgiving

The big day is almost here – only two days away! Whether you’re having a quiet holiday at home, a Friendsgiving surrounded by your best pals, or a big traditional Thanksgiving with your entire extended family, it’s cutting it close to get those dinner plans underway.

According to the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), the average cost of a 10-person Thanksgiving dinner in the U.S. is $50.11, up $0.70 from last year. Planning ahead is the best way to make sure that Thanksgiving dinner stays within budget, but we know the holidays have their way of sneaking up on us all. Thankfully – pun intended – there are a few ways you can still save on this year’s festivities.

Here are 7 last minute savings tips for a perfect-for-you Thanksgiving:

  1. Make it a potluck. Not only do potlucks keep costs down for the holiday host, but they can be a great way to add some variety to your meal. You can keep it traditional and ask family and friends to bring a specific Thanksgiving item, or keep it simple and ask guests to bring a casserole of their choosing. No matter what route you choose, potlucks lend themselves to sharing costs and sharing dishes.
  2. Skip the booze. Celebrations might not seem as fun without a celebratory beverage, but alcohol can really drive up the average cost of a meal. A great alternative is to consider asking guests to BYOB.
  3. Skip the bird. Unless you’re going to make use of the whole bird, you may be paying by weight for parts that you’re going to throw away. Try seeking out deals on boneless turkey breast or thighs/legs instead. If turkey is only in the plan because it’s a national tradition, perhaps it’s time to establish your own Thanksgiving traditions by skipping the bird altogether.
  4. Consider and compare. Make a list no matter what, and keep it handy as you do your actual shopping. From this list, you’ll know what items are a must and can seek out the best deals possible, and you’ll know what items are flexible and can be adjusted by what’s available. Seasonal items are often most accessible and cheapest, but it depends on what you’re looking to do with them: whole pumpkins are available, but pumpkin by the can will be cheapest for making pies and desserts. Be smart and flexible in your shopping!
  5. Cook from scratch. If you’re willing to try, cooking from scratch can save you a ton of money. As mentioned above, making your own pumpkin pie can be a whole lot cheaper than buying a frozen pie off the shelves. The same can be said of side dishes and other desserts. Bonus: cooking can be a great social event to be shared by family and friends alike!
  6. Control portions and plan the leftovers. Just because Thanksgiving is known for being a day of overeating, doesn’t mean it has to be. Be smart about divvying up portions, and make the most of leftover food. If you plan for Thanksgiving dinner as a part of your monthly food budget, consider it as the start of a few day’s meals. Plan meals for the weekend that follow with what’s leftover.
  7. Get creative with what you’ve got. It can be incredibly tempting to go out and buy decorations for each and every holiday, but seasonal napkins and tablecloths can really add up. Showcase your savings-savvy meal with simple or DIY table settings, or borrow from holiday decorations you might already own. Pumpkins and strings of lights are just as festive for Thanksgiving as they are for their respective season. Even a bowl of fruits or nuts from your shopping list can act as a seasonal centerpiece.

We hope these tips keep you under budget this Thanksgiving. For even more motivation and advice from America Saves, take the America Saves Pledge.

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