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Thanksgiving on a Budget

For most people, Thanksgiving is a holiday all about family and friends spending time together, and yes, eating. It’s typically a relaxing day, but that may not be the case when you consider the potential costs of the event. This year we want you to stay focused on what’s important, so we’re sharing five ways you can make sure your Thanksgiving is fun and festive without breaking the bank!

#1 – Cook from scratch

If you’ve got the time and the inclination, you can save big bucks by making your Thanksgiving meal from scratch rather than from prepared mixes or, even more costly, from already prepared foods.

Yes, cooking can be time-consuming, but enlist help! Get your kids or spouse involved in the food prep. Thanksgiving is a family affair, after all.

#2 ­— Don’t overestimate the serving size

Time for some honest evaluation: How often have you underestimated the amount of food you need to serve for Thanksgiving? Is the answer never? In truth, nearly everyone prepares way more Thanksgiving food than necessary to feed their guests. In fact, in some families it’s become a tradition to keep serving turkey for days after the holiday, while trying desperately to find new ways of dressing up the same dish. But this tradition can easily double or triple your Thanksgiving budget. Adjust your expectations, and prepare a fine feast without overdoing it.

One of the biggest budget killers is the turkey. To have enough for all without buying more than you need, plan on 1 pound per person. For example, a 20-pound turkey will comfortably satisfy 20 guests.

#3 – Potluck it

One of the best cost-saving strategies for Thanksgiving is to make it a potluck event. Task each attendee or family member with bringing a dish to share. Don’t be afraid to make category assignments, so you don’t accidentally end up with an entire meal of desserts or just appetizers. With this approach, everyone feels like a part of the meal and everyone shares in the cost.

#4 – Craft the decorations

Don’t run out to the store and buy overpriced holiday decorations – craft them instead! This is a great way to involve your kids in holiday prep – or make it a day-of project that involves all the invited kids. By handcrafting decorations, you can save a great deal of money while still making things look festive. Save even more by asking each attending family to bring an assigned decoration – one can bring the centerpiece, another the holiday candles, and so forth.

#5 – Enjoy some free fun

A great way to make Thanksgiving memorable without spending much money is to plan activities or games to provide memories beyond the meal itself. Just make sure to adjust the plan according to age groups and weather considerations. Here are some low-cost examples:
  • Sports-related activities, such as Frisbee toss, touch football, beanbag toss, tag, or a potato sack race.
  • Craft-related activities, such as drawing or coloring. 
  • Game-related activities, such as cards or board games. Or put out a jigsaw puzzle – a fun group activity that can be stopped for the meal and then picked up later. 
  • A talent show. Let your guests know well in advance to optionally plan on showcasing their talent —dance, poetry reading, singing, musical instrument, or whatever. Calling it a “show” instead of a “contest” will keep things friendly and fun.

Manage holiday cough-and-flu season costs

Unfortunately, November/December is not only a time for holidays, but also for the flu, colds, and other illnesses. We want you to stay healthy so that you don’t miss out on your celebrations, but sometimes you can’t avoid getting sick.

Don’t let your prescription costs get you down. Manage your budget by using the FamilyWize Prescription Savings Card or app, which are available to you for free, and can save you an average of 43% off the cost of your prescriptions. Learn more here and have a happy Thanksgiving!
An average savings of 45%!
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