It is that time of year! It is time for the turkey and all the trimmings that come with it. For some people, like me, it is the most favorite holiday of the year. Every year I start pouring over all the magazines in the checkout line. I look at all the new recipes and digging out all the old trusted and true recipes. Then you have all the other stuff. You have to consider the table settings, the plates and silver. The decorations for the house need to be gone over and planned.
So many things to consider. So much money to be spent. Or do they?
We put a great deal of stress with big holiday meals. In this economy, it isn’t always easy to put on the big spread for our families that we would like. There are ways we can cut through some of the budget and still have a wonderful holiday.
#1 – Ask for help. If you have invited people over for dinner, ask them to bring something. They won’t mind. They may actually enjoy contributing to the meal. Everyone has a favorite dish to make. Someone who can’t cook or bake can stop by the grocery or bakery and pick up a lovely pie or desert. Consider asking them to bring the drinks. This can help a budget tremendously. It also gives your guest the feeling that they contributed.
#2 – Consider portion size and leftovers. You want to have leftovers. They are a great part of the holiday, but consider the reality of it. Will you really use 5 pounds of potato leftovers? There are only so many things you can do with mashed potatoes and they do not freeze well. The only exception I make to this rule is the turkey. Leftovers that can be divided up and frozen can help the budget well into December.
If you know your family doesn’t like leftovers of something, cut the amount you make. This saves on valuable refrigerator space and the budget.
#3 – Cut the consumable extras. Disposable plates, cups, silverware and even table clothes can go. While they represent a great convenience, they offer a deep dent in the budget to go with it. If you don’t have a set of china, use your every day dishes. To be perfectly honest, the perfect table is only for magazine covers. All people are interested is those plates full of food. They will be fine eating off everyday dishes and silver.
Need a pretty table cloth? If you really can’t live without that disposable table cloth but don’t have a nice one, consider the thrift store. They often have linens that are nice. You won’t feel so bad if you spill and stain something on those. They can dress up a table for the same price as a disposable one. They can also be used year after year.
#4 – Shop the sales. If this means running from one store to another for deals and specials this may be time to take advantage of it. Do not, however, shop without a list. This time of year you may be tempted to buy the extras they will have on sale. They are put there to tempt you and will just blow your budge. Remember they are trying to meet their budgets as well.
#5 – Look at that desert menu. Do you really need 4 types of pie, cheesecake and a layer cake? I think of that and my brain goes yum, my thighs go ughh and my wallet starts to whimper. You should plan on enough portions where everyone will have plenty, but not that they will over indulge. A pie and a cake this year may be just the thing to help the budge and the calories. If you miss someone’s favorite, you can serve it at Christmas or New Year.
#6 – Centerpieces and decorations can be cut back or even deleted. We are back to where the theme of Thanksgiving is family and food. While these things may make the house look wonderful, remember that your family is gathering to be together. They will remember the time, not the decorations. If they are important to you, get your kids to help. Have them fashion a centerpiece from inexpensive silk flowers from the dollar store. It is inexpensive and it gives them a special memory of the holiday.
#7 – Cut back on the alcohol. This can be a major expense during the holidays. While a glass of wine with dinner or a beer watching the game afterwards is a great holiday tradition, it may be one that you can cut back on or even do without. Instead of buying three to four bottles of wine, maybe purchase just one or two. Instead of a case of beer, opt for a six pack.
These are just a few of the many ways that you can find to cut the Thanksgiving budget. The most important thing to remember when preparing for the holidays is that the holidays are about families and friends. It isn’t how extensive your holiday meal is. It isn’t about who has the best decorated house. It is about the warm memories of laughter and joy created where family and friends gather.