Thanksgiving on a Budget

Photo Credit: Gabriel Garcia Marengo

Canadian Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and with the cost of this annual time of reflection reaching an all time high, you should consider ways to keep the cost of this family gathering small. Bear in mind that Thanksgiving is about giving thanks, appreciating what you have and spending time with family. It is not about spending a lot of money, especially if you already have debt or are saving for a big goal like a home down payment.

Fortunately, whether you are hosting a family meal or traveling to another province to see your relatives, there are plenty of ways to celebrate Thanksgiving on a budget.

Make Your Thanksgiving Potluck

If you are hosting Thanksgiving, the cost to prepare a large meal like this can be a financial burden. According to the Farm Bureau, the average cost of Thanksgiving dinner is $50.11, up from $28.74 in 1986.

To help defray this cost, consider making your Thanksgiving dinner potluck. Asking family members to help with dinner prep will not only spread the cost of this meal across several individuals, but it will also result in far less work for you. You’ll enjoy yourself more because you’ll spend less time in the kitchen, and you’ll save money.

Make Your Dinner from Scratch

It’s a well-known fact that grocery stores make the bulk of their profit through value added or convenience foods. Premade and preassembled meals and sweets are often more expensive than cooking from scratch. Remember – you’re paying for the convenience of a precooked meal.

That’s why you can save money on your Thanksgiving food prep by making your dishes from scratch. Instead of purchasing store made pies or boxed stuffing, consider making these items from raw ingredients. Even if you can make part of it from scratch, you’ll still save money.

For example, I am not good at making piecrust. So instead attempting that, I simply buy the premade piecrust but make the filling from scratch. I save money and my guests enjoy a delicious, semi-homemade pie.

Shop in Advance

As we move closer to Thanksgiving, prices for essential items will increase as time and supply dwindle. Avoid finding yourself in an aisle in the grocery store the day before Thanksgiving fighting over the last turkey in stock. Do your homework and shop the sales weeks in advance.

The same goes for flights if you are heading home for this holiday. Instead of waiting until the last minute, book your flight months in advance. There aren’t often sales available around Thanksgiving, but if you are flexible with your departure and arrival dates, you could score a good deal.

Celebrate Remotely

If you live apart from your family and you typically fly home to see them on Thanksgiving, you have probably spent thousands of dollars on flights over the years. Flights near Thanksgiving are almost as expensive as flights around Christmas, and travel rewards companies often have blackout dates that prevent you from redeeming your travel rewards points.

If you are committed to saving money on this expensive holiday, consider forgoing the trip home and instead celebrate remotely. Consider using Skype or Face Time to visit with family and friends. You’ll save hundreds of dollars – money that could be used to pay down your debt or save for your future. 

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