Here are the smartest and simplest ways to help you save time, money (and your sanity!)
1. Keep the menu simple.
Nobody needs 14 dishes. Just pick four or five favorites most everyone will enjoy. For example, you could make mashed potatoes, a simple stuffing, some green bean casserole, and a salad. And turkey, of course. As for gravy, buy a gravy seasoning packet at the grocery store to add extra flavor. And serve canned cranberry sauce. It doesn’t get easier than opening a can!
2. Don’t forget about appetizers.
Whether it’s cheese and crackers or veggies and dip, offer your guests some munchies while they wait for the main event. Simple baked brie with jam is inexpensive and a crowd pleaser. Check out these great last minute appetizer ideas from Fun Cheap or Free.
3. Check your cupboard BEFORE you shop.
Make sure you don’t waste any money by buying ingredients you may already have.
4. Don’t commit to the first turkey you meet.
You may not know this, but as Thanksgiving gets closer, many grocery stores offer significant discounts on turkey. If you pick up your turkey the morning of Thanksgiving, you could save quite a bit. Call your local stores to see what discounts they may be offering.
5. Ask for help.
Thanksgiving is the oldest potluck dinner in our country’s history. Don’t be afraid to ask Aunt Helen to bring the salad or Cousin Bill to bring the wine. When people ask you: ‘What can I bring?” have an answer. It’ll be one less thing you have to do, and one less thing you have to buy.
6. Decorate with what you already have.
Dim your overhead lights (or turn them off) and place candles or tea lights on your dining table to set a beautiful mood. It’s the easiest way to create a relaxing, pretty table without wasting money on centerpieces and seasonal napkins.
7. Set the table and empty the dishwasher and trash cans the night before.
Have everything ready to go so you can relax as much as possible before going to bed. You’ll wake up ready to focus on food prep and other final touches.
8. Put your condiments on ice.
Refrigerator real estate is prized space during a holiday like this one. If you’re afraid you might run out of room, pack a camping cooler with ice and store your ketchup, salad dressings, and hot sauces for a couple of days. You’ll be relieved you don’t have to worry about moving things around when you’re loading up the leftovers.
9. Be creative with your cocktails.
One of the biggest event budget busters is alcohol. A fun way to sideline this cost is to offer your guests mimosas, Bloody Marys, or a punch when they arrive. You can make any of these in advance, and you can control the type of alcohol you need rather than offering various cocktails. At dinner, you can then offer red and/or white wine. And don’t forget to offer ice water!
10. When it’s all over, go for a walk!
If you can, get outside and get moving. A recent study shows that people who took a light walk after a high-fat meal decreased their post-meal triglyceride concentration (the type of fat your body stores to use for energy) by around 70 percent compared to the non-walking group. The fresh air will revive you. And then, well, you can always have more pie?
Now that you’re prepared to make this Thanksgiving holiday a breeze, here’s a way to make your financial life a whole lot easier, too. Feel confident that you can tackle anything that comes your way.