How to Entertain on Thanksgiving with Class!

This Thanksgiving season it’s all about one thing . . . football! Okay, I’m joking a little. But the holiday season certainly does put a focus on excess spending and eating. Just think about the number of people who put off starting a workout program (me included) until after they stuff both their turkeys and themselves to critical mass!

Today, however, it pays to remember the financial climate is more geared toward simple meals and décor. This year, try something a little different . . . try getting back to the basics!

How to Entertain on Thanksgiving

1. Plan your shopping.

Open your calendar or planner and circle today’s date! This is the day you start planning your dinner menu. The turkey will account for almost 40% of the cost of Thanksgiving dinner. Make sure there’s some room in your freezer since you’ll be buying a frozen bird. A frozen turkey will store easier and roast up juicy.

About a week before Thanksgiving plan for a prep day. Tear up bread for stuffing, mix dough for pie crusts or dinner rolls, and simmer a chicken to make stock. Watch ads for prime discount shopping times or special meal deals offered by your local grocery stores. Before you head out to do your shopping, do one last double check to make sure you don’t buy anything you don’t need. Sometimes that seasoning in the back of the cabinet can sneak up on you when you least expect it! Don’t waste money on what you already have!

2. Cook what you know.

Thanksgiving is not the right time to try out your favorite Aunt’s special chutney recipe . . . does anybody really know what a chutney is? You’re going to have hungry friends and family ready for the traditional dishes they’ve come to expect and love. When that Italian cheese and tomato appetizer falls on its face, you’ll have to plan on an extra $15 to cover the cost of a vegetable platter.

You really can’t go wrong with a classic Thanksgiving dinner of roast turkey, stuffing, green beans, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. As a general rule, try sticking with recipes which have the fewest ingredients to save money and time!

3. Make use of décor.

Nothing says Thanksgiving like a well set dinner table. You don’t have to spend a ton of money to create an inviting spread. Try collecting from what nature already provides around your home . . . fresh, free décor. A great centerpiece can be as easy as filling a glass vase with acorns, sturdy sticks and pinecones (if you need a few of these items please feel free to remove them from my front yard!). Light a few candles to add some great autumn smells; my personal favorites are cinnamon scented candles.

If you do have to buy a few things, you can save save some money by shopping online through Ebates (see review) for your Thanksgiving gear. But don’t go overboard!

4. Ask guests to bring a dish.

Make sure to talk to everyone in advance. Our family loves to send out a group email. If you’re hosting, then make sure you indicate all the items you’re preparing and let family and friends fill in the blanks. Before you know it you’ll have so much food you’ll be praying for the game to go into overtime!

Keep your focus on the bird and assign the starches, vegetables, cranberries and desserts to friends and family. This way, you can put a little extra toward your desert or wine budget!

5. Be a tasteful host, of course!

Now, nobody expects you to be the host with the most. But you can be a tasteful host! Make smart choices about your dinner while keeping your guests happiness and your personal budget in mind. Finally, put on a pot of coffee or mix up a signature cocktail to wrap up the meal. Have some good laughs and cheers with people you love and care about! After all, being thankful for each other should be one of the true highlights of the day!

What are your Thanksgiving tips? How do you save money on Thanksgiving? What’s your favorite Thanksgiving tradition? Leave a comment!

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