As most of us know, the holidays are not only a lot of fun, but can be a lot of work and expensive too.  Thanksgiving generally kicks off the season and it's a great  time to put some plans in place to cut down expenses.  Here are a few ideas that can save you some money this holiday season!

A BYOD (Bring Your Own Dish) dinner - Ask your friends and family to bring a dish to ease the burden of cooking and cleaning. Not only will you have to spend less at the grocery store, you’ll also save time! Request types of dishes, not specific ones. For instance, ask people to bring an appetizer, side dish, or dessert.

Free Turkey - Store managers know that during the holidays people buy more food than usual, so many major grocery stores have a free-turkey offer with a fairly minimal purchase. Just shop the store that offers a free turkey. 

Shop Ahead - By shopping early for deals and using coupons way ahead of time you can save quite a bit.  

Make a list - It’s easy to overspend when shopping for a much anticipated holiday dinner. Make a list of what you’ll need and exactly how much, and be sure to stick to it when you’re in the store.

Balance your side dishes and desserts - Whipping up a bowl of mashed potatoes is cheaper than cooking a seven-layer sweet potato casserole. Serve the essentials (green beans, stuffing, and cranberry sauce), and go light on the more expensive dishes that require several ingredients.

Leftovers - Think outside the box when it comes to turkey leftovers. Try different flavor profiles to spice up what you have on hand. For example, you can make: quick curry turkey salad; turkey tacos with a delicious fresh corn salsa; slow-cooked turkey to BBQ pulled-turkey sandwiches; Chinese turkey salad with mandarin oranges/sliveredalmonds/red onions/ginger dressing; Green Thai turkey with curry paste/basil/coconut milk; or even a cold noodle bowl with turkey/peanut butter/salsa /sesame oil/green onion. New flavors like these will make you think of turkey in a whole new way.

Frozen Options - You can purchase a frozen turkey much cheaper than a fresh turkey, but you'll need to plan 3- 5 days for thawing.  Check with your grocer for instructions based on weight.  When it comes to pies, frozen pies usually go on sale around the holidays for more than 50 percent off. One might argue that you could perhaps make a better pie, but you probably can't make a cheaper (or easier) one.

Make Saturday Your Thanksgiving - If you can bring yourself to buck tradition and serve something else altogether on Thanksgiving Day, you can load up on Thanksgiving goodies the day AFTER Thanksgiving really cheap. This is a great idea if you want to celebrate Thanksgiving on Saturday.

Be smart about beverages - Visit a wholesale liquor store, and take advantage of sales. Don’t overlook boxed wine either – on average, one box of wine is equivalent to four bottles. Boxed wine often costs $20 or less, which is the equivalent price of $5 per bottle. Serve it in a decanter, and no one will ever know the difference.

Volunteer -  Soup kitchens and Meals On Wheels desperately need volunteers to help out on this important day. Not only would you skip all the buying, cooking, and cleaning, but you’d get to help others and be reminded how truly blessed your life is. Volunteering together with friends and family is also a great way to be be with them while celebrating this day of thanks.

Use Natural Decorations - Use fall leaves and branches, beautiful dark green acorn squash, pine cones, the dried hydrangea in your garden, and other fall fruits that can be eaten later. There are tons of great ideas online for decorating the table au natural.  Google or Pinterest have a number of ideas that you can see for inspiration!

Donate - Sounds strange, but it works on a psychological level for many.  Do a pre-holiday cleaning and fill boxes with clothes, toys and household goods to donate. Yes, it's a nice tax write-off, but this habit also curbs any over consumption tendencies, even at the grocery store.

Relax and have fun with Thanksgiving this year. It doesn’t have to be perfect! And the more you plan in advance, the more you’re going to end up saving.




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