Money-Saving Tips & Recommendations

5 Ways to Save Money on Thanksgiving


5 Ways to Save Money on Thanksgiving

In addition to being both enjoyable and stressful, the Thanksgiving meal can be quite costly, especially if you are host to a large gathering of family members. However, regardless of how you do Thanksgiving with your family there are some creative ways to lower your Thanksgiving meal costs and make this holiday easier on your budget. Here are five ways to save money on Thanksgiving.

1. Ask the whole family to pitch in potluck style.

Confident mom at Thanksgiving

Early planning can save time and money on Thanksgiving.

If you’re hosting the Thanksgiving meal this year and in charge of cooking the turkey, ask everyone to bring a side dish to cover the rest of the meal. You can even coordinate the side dishes to fit with traditional and family themes.

2. Expand your Thanksgiving pantry over time.

Start preparing a month or two in advance by adding 2-3 food items that you will need for your Thanksgiving meal to your weekly grocery list. Buying these items over time will reduce the impact of having to purchase everything for the meal at once and so close to the holiday. With this early shopping strategy you might also be able to catch some items while they are on sale.

3. Make your own Thanksgiving table decorations.

If you are fortunate enough to have access to trees that yield beautiful fall colors, pine cones, acorns, and other natural ornaments, you can use them to decorate your table. They will not only provide a beautiful and classic “tablescape” but they can save you money in the process. Get creative and have fun with these decorations. You can even get the kids involved in collecting and assembling your Thanksgiving masterpiece!

4. It’s okay to stay home for Thanksgiving.

While there may be a long tradition of Thanksgiving travel, sometimes it’s good to enjoy Thanksgiving at home and establish a new tradition. Perhaps you simply cannot afford to travel or have to work this year. Whatever your reason for staying home this Thanksgiving, you can still connect with family and friends if you are creative. Here’s a tip: establish a new tradition with a video chat via Skype, FaceTime, or another free service. Young children are especially fascinated when they can see family members on their computer.

5. Buy a larger turkey but only cook part of it for Thanksgiving.

Did you know that you can sometimes save money by buying a larger turkey? So says Jill Cooper of Living On A Dime. She points out that not only are larger turkeys often less expensive per pound but if you ask them to, some meat markets will cut your turkey in half — even if it is frozen. You can then more easily cook one half for Thanksgiving and carefully wrap up and freeze the other half to cook later (like after Christmas). One other benefit: the second half of the turkey will taste a lot better when thawed out and cooked than it is likely to when warmed up as leftovers days after Thanksgiving.

And now for 2 Bonus Time Savers for the Thanksgiving meal!

So now that you’ve worked hard to keep your Thanksgiving meal costs down you can hopefully focus more on being thankful and enjoying Thanksgiving. After all, that’s the point of Thanksgiving, right? Here are two easy and time-saving Thanksgiving meal preparation tips to help you do that even better (special thanks to Teresa for sending us these).

  • Chop vegetables like celery and onions ahead of time and freeze them. Not only does this make for a convenient Thanksgiving day shortcut (and no tears with the onions) but it can mean fewer Thanksgiving dishes to clean up afterwards.
  • Leftover cornbread from meals prior to Thanksgiving can be crumbled
 and put into a large freezer bag. Keep this bag in the freezer and add to it in the days leading up to Thanksgiving. When you’re ready you can just thaw it out and use these leftovers for tasty Thanksgiving dressing.

What are your Thanksgiving time or money-saving tips? Please share them with our readers in the comments section below. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

This post was last updated on July 20, 2023.

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