Thanksgiving is a holiday many Americans look forward to. Some people use the day to reflect on everything they’re truly thankful for. Others use it as a chance to do some last-minute shopping or to cheer on a favorite football team alongside relatives. While honoring your family’s traditions can be fun, it can also be expensive. If you’re feeling budget-conscious, we’ve got five traditions you might want to rethink this year and how you can go about tweaking them.
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1. Hosting Thanksgiving at Your Place
The “hostess with the mostest” is a title you might not be willing to relinquish. Maybe it gives you a sense of pride to make everyone feel welcome in your home. But being the host every year means you’re always stuck paying for expenses that no one else has to worry about, like tablecloths, decorations and in some cases, most of the food.
The Solution: Although you might have a knack for hosting, your credit card probably deserves a break. Instead of being the default host, you can rotate the role among your family members. If everyone met up at your house last year, your sister can host Thanksgiving this year and your brother can take the reins the following year.
Perhaps you have the opposite problem. For your family, Thanksgiving might be synonymous with travel to another state. Those trips can really take a toll on your budget.
The Solution: If you can’t think of any ways to save on holiday travel, you can skip the trip altogether and host the next Thanksgiving dinner at your house. Your out-of-state relatives who usually host may be a little bummed, but you can offer to visit them every other year, or at another time when you have more room in your budget and flights are cheaper.
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3. Buying Your Cakes and Pies
The apple pie or banana pudding from your local bakery might be a staple item on your Thanksgiving dinner table. Yes, they’re delicious desserts, but they could be pushing you over your monthly limit. Fortunately, you can satisfy your sweet tooth without having to overspend.
The Solution: A homemade cake or pie could be just as good – and made with love. Imagine how much fun it would be to bake your own pie! If your culinary skills are limited, having a potluck and encouraging your relatives to bring their own treats is another good (and tasty) idea that can remove the pinch you might be feeling in your wallet.
4. Going to the Movies
There’s a reason Thanksgiving weekend is a popular time for the release of big-screen films. The movie industry knows that Americans head to the theaters in droves to get a first look at the next big box office hit. But considering that the average cost of a movie ticket is now $8.61, you might need to come up with another way to spend a couple of hours over the holiday weekend.
The Solution: If you’d rather not drop $50 on movie tickets for your family of six (that’s before you purchase your popcorn and soda), you can borrow a DVD from a Redbox or your local library instead. If you’ve already got a Netflix or Hulu Plus account, you can take advantage of your many streaming options.
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5. Making Too Much Food
On Thanksgiving Day, it’s customary to make a lot more food than you actually need. That might be fine if you don’t mind eating leftovers. But for many of us, turkey and sweet potatoes just don’t taste the same after the third or fourth day. In fact, you might end up throwing out most of your leftovers.
The Solution: Instead of taking a guess at the number of people you’ll be serving, it might be a better idea to get an official head count. That way, you’ll have a better idea of how much food to make. Once you know how many guests to expect, don’t go overboard. We all want to have an abundant Thanksgiving table, but making way more food than your guests will eat is a recipe for waste.
You don’t want to spend all of your extra funds on Thanksgiving preparations, especially if you plan to do some Black Friday shopping for holiday presents. By making some slight adjustments to your usual traditions, you can spice things up a bit and save money at the same time.
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