Thanksgiving On a Budget

Thanksgiving On a Budget
November 26, 2019 Steven Reno Saenger
In Blog, Steven Reno Saenger

Thanksgiving was declared a national holiday in 1941, is one of the oldest American celebrations, and has evolved throughout the years to a much more comfortable celebration for American families everywhere.

Each year the American Farm Bureau Federation conducts an informal survey on Thanksgiving, which provides us with some unique and entertaining information on the cost of Thanksgiving. Statistics from the 2018 survey found that the average cost of a Thanksgiving meal for ten people will cost approximately $48.90 per person. The dollar amount may seem high, but that’s the lowest average price reported since 2010. The $48.90 per person is based upon the typical holiday grocery list. This list includes a 16lb turkey, 14oz of stuffing, 3lbs of sweet potatoes, 12 dinner rolls, 1lb of green peas, 1lb of carrots and celery, 12oz of cranberries, 30oz of pumpkin pie mix, ½ pint of whipped cream, and 1gal of whole milk. However, if you add in additional popular items such as a 4lb bone-in-ham or 1lb of frozen green beans, then the price goes up. These results are from only one of many Thanksgiving celebration surveys, and the $48.90 doesn’t take into consideration adult beverages or decorations.

So, in preparation for the holiday, keep in mind some essential tips for your Thanksgiving Day celebration as well as the other upcoming family holidays.

  1. Put together a budget. Before you start any prep, make a Thanksgiving Day budget. Try to think about every little item you might spend money on from the decorations, drinks, to the big dinner. Once you have everything listed out, then assign a dollar amount to each item. The real trick is to try and not spend a cent more than the price you assigned to each item.
  2. Get creative with a potluck. Call your family and friends to start a new tradition that can be beneficial to everyone’s bank account! The host can supply the turkey, and then all of the guests can bring the additional dinner sides to create one big, delicious meal. A potluck is a great way to have everyone feel included, share their favorite holiday recipes, and takes the stress off the hosts.
  3. The turkey. Don’t you love how, during the year, the turkey prices are a lot lower? It’s just like how flowers are cheaper…except when you are buying them for a wedding. So, despite what you may have been told, you don’t HAVE to make a full turkey…and you don’t even have to make a turkey at all. While serving a turkey is definitely a common Thanksgiving tradition. A turkey can be one of the blandest, driest birds in the poultry family, and it’s usually not even the star of the entire meal. So, think about your options like considering roasting a chicken instead or even a ham. But if you have to have turkey…consider if you need to cook a whole one or if you can get away with only buying parts of the turkey like the breasts or the legs. Imagine if you saved money, didn’t waste food, and also didn’t have to spend time carving a turkey.
  4. Decorate on a budget. Everyone loves a beautiful home. However, it isn’t always practical to have your house decorated like an image out of Architectural Digest or Pottery Barn for the holiday season. The price you will spend on decorations will be enormous—especially when you are decorating for only one day out of the year. However, you can still make your home look amazing by purchasing items from places that are a fraction of the cost. Do your research and check out Marshals, Cost Plus, Party City, or TJ Max.
  5. Technology. Another great way to save money on groceries, in general, is to check out different apps such as iBotta. There are plenty of rebates on different brands of the same item you may be thinking about purchasing. While it may seem like pennies, saving even 50 cents on an item over time can really add up.
  6. Avoid the Black Friday trap. Take a year off from Black Friday because if you really think about it—you most likely overbuy just because it’s on sale. Surveys have shown that some people end up spending more, not less just because the item is “on sale.” Instead of going out at the crack of dawn and finding all the “deals,” why not put that money away for a family vacation or even give it to a charity that means a lot to you. But—if you can’t resist the good deals, then add it into your original budget and don’t overspend.

Lastly, a great tip is to remember what the season is really about. This is a time to celebrate the season itself. It’s a time to be with your family, friends, and all the people that you love. Also, it’s a time to reflect on the things you are most thankful for. No one will remember next year if you had the most beautiful decorations or if you served the best turkey. What will be talked about are the time you spent and the new memories you made together.

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