Ask the Readers: How Do You Save Money on Thanksgiving?

By Ashley Jacobs on 15 November 2016 47 comments

Editor's Note: Congratulations to Tabathia, Gina, and Natasha for winning this week's contest!

Most people won't spend as much money on Thanksgiving as they would at Christmas, but the costs can add up when you're hosting a feast or traveling to spend the holiday with family. If you aren't careful with your budget, it can go bust before the year ends.

How do you save money on Thanksgiving? What Thanksgiving traditions do you skip to keep costs low? Is there any part of Thanksgiving that you're willing to splurge on — like a giant turkey or fancy dinnerware?

Tell us how you save money on Thanksgiving and we'll enter you in a drawing to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

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We're doing three giveaways — here's how you can win!

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Giveaway Rules:

  • Contest ends Monday, November 21st at 11:59 p.m. Pacific. Winners will be announced after November 21st on the original post. Winners will also be contacted via email.
     
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Good Luck!

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Guest's picture
Karen Patterson

All our guests bring a side or dessert.

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Mami2jcn

We save money by using coupons, of course.

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Michelle

To save money on Thanksgiving dinner, we usually shop the sales at different store to get the best deals on all the staple items- we also take turns bringing the pricier things so that no one is stuck with paying too much every year!

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Julie Wood

I follow the store ad sales and use coupons to save money on Thanksgiving dinner!

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Elena

I save money on Thanksgiving by shopping sales

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Elle

I take advantage of sales and coupons and make my own food instead of buying.

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Donna Sako

The biggest thing I do is buy food items during the year that can be used for the Thanksgiving Dinner. Turkeys can be frozen for a least 6 months, canned goods longer, and thus your meal can have a reasonable price if you plan ahead. If that turkey does go on sale, then buy for the next holiday or event. Planning ahead saves time, money, and keeps you prepared.

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Chris

Since going vegan, meals are cheaper, though more time-consuming to prepare. We are loving it, it's like having all side dishes for a meal.

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Natasha

Don't go overboard on extras (like decorations or fancy appetizers) and have everyone bring a dish.

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Trish

We stick with the family favorites that are traditions. We skip on a lot appetizers and desserts because it just all too many calories anyway! Buying food on sale in the weeks leading up to the holiday saves on expenses.

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Gina

I save money on Thanksgiving by doing a potluck with friends. Everyone is responsible for bringing one item but we all get to enjoy everything.

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Sara C

I do splurge on a big turkey but end up saving on other meals because I use all the leftovers for sandwiches, casseroles etc

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Sonja Johnson

I shop at Aldi for produce, and review sales elsewhere.

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Olivia

As both Thanksgiving and Christmas come so close together, I try spreading expenses out over a longer time frame. Baking supplies can be purchased as loss leaders over a couple month's time and frozen. Those crazy "39 cent a pound turkeys with purchase", are worth stocking up on, as well as canned goods. We also have the advantage of living near a salvage grocer. You know, the kind of place that carries those odd ball treats at crazy discounts, (artichoke hearts, calamati olives, roasted red peppers, etc.), perfect for appetizer trays.

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Ernest S.

Potlucks are a great way to keep the cost down, and for entertainment, use boardgames to keep everyone engaged and social.

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Lisa

It's only me, my mom, and my grandpa so we stopped doing Thanksgiving at home. Way too many leftovers and wasted food. So we go out to dinner and it's much less expensive and we have more time to spend together the rest of the day.

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Lisa

Using sales and couponing websites like krazycouponlady.com and coupons.com. Meal planning is key! Find things on sale and stock up as much as possible ahead of time.

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Jennifer

Last year I decided not to invite anyone over. I made nachos and went hiking instead. It was cheap and no-stress! :)

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Kelli

We started our own new tradition last Thanksgiving by forgoing the big dinner with our extended family and going on vacation instead! Not the most frugal thing, perhaps, but a real sanity-saver! When we absolutely MUST celebrate at home we usually all bring something to the host's home.

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Lisa

Check sales, and stock up as much as possible in advance. Also, Aldi is really great for shopping purposes, but also bring coupons as much as possible and combine them with sales. Don't forget Ibotta and Checkout 51!

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Susan P.

This year I'm driving 5 hours to my sister's house since she loves to prepare Thanksgiving dinner and I get to see our family. I used a gift card and ordered a smoked turkey which should arrive a day or two before. Shopping ahead using coupons and buying what's on sale, helps a lot.

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MELISSA HANSSON

My husband and I have a nice lunch out with another couple and then go home, take a nap and call it good.

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Dianne

I save money at Thanksgiving (my favorite holiday of the year) by making things from scratch (everything) and inviting friends and family to bring an item they are particularly proud of making. I am not a pro at pies, but my daughter is. I hate peeling potatoes, but my girlfriend makes an amazing mash. My son is the baker and loves the accolades he gets for his yeast rolls. etc. etc.

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Betty

I host Thanksgiving every year. To save some money, I prepare by shopping for my non-perishables early, when there is a sale or coupon. I've also learned not to buy too much pre-dinner food. Guests also always show up with a dessert, so I only make one now.

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Donna D

We stick to the basics, that is what everyone wants anyway.

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Lisa Kreutter

I would suggest using coupons, and shopping sales. Also shopping at grocery stores like Aldi helps a lot.

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Liz

We make our own food and try not to make more than we can eat.

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Mary W

I utilize my freezer to save money. I buy ingredients for turkey dinner ahead of time when they are on sale and I have coupons. If my guests offer to bring a dish I say yes!

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MaBell

I keep costs down for the Thanksgiving meal by making side dishes from staples that I keep on hand for everyday cooking. Simple dishes such as deviled eggs, mom's macaroni salad, and of course "green bean casserole" are staples. I utilize the end of my garden bounty such as potatoes, onions, carrots, and brussel sprouts steamed as extra dishes.
I bake my own bread (using a bread machine) so day old bread from the freezer is used for stuffing and I make homemade 1 hour dinner rolls for the big day.
As I have two diabetics in the family, I make sugar free lemon meringue and sugar free pumpkin pie. Regular pumpkin and chocolate pies are homemade as well.

I keep turkeys in my freezer so that I don't have to purchase a turkey the week of Thanksgiving. The last turkeys that I purchased I purchased when they were on sale at Target. They were on sale for .79/lb. at Target. I stacked a carthwheel offer that gave me an additional percentage off, target and manufacturer's coupons for the other groceries and topped it of with a coupon that gave me an additional $10 off my $50 food purchase.
Last year I used this strategy to purchase all my groceries for my Thanksgiving dinner as well as an extra two turkeys. This also gave me a turkey for my Christmas dinner. All in, I spent $40.00 and fed my family for 4 days.

Fall decorations are put up in October and carry forward to Thanksgiving. I will with a coupon purchase fresh flowers. However, if I find fall leaves that are colorful they are used instead for table arrangement.

My main mantra is keep things simple. Make sure that you have plenty of wine. (yes I purchase in bulk at Costco). Enjoy the day and your family!

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MelodyJ

I use coupons. I buy items on sale.

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Guest

I look for sale items.

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Monique Hubert

My Thanksgivings are typically pretty intimate events, with maybe 6 people, tops. So that keeps costs down, as does our family's preference for more casual meals. We make almost everything from scratch, which saves money. But good quality ingredients are always worth it!

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Jen D

When hosting, I usually will cook a traditional dinner, although I have done a delicious boneless chicken breast recipe some years. I stock up on the sales that occur before Thanksgiving, plus shop Aldi for their great prices. I use coupons if they lower the price, otherwise I buy store brands. I don't buy new items for decor - instead I just shop my house. I don't use paper napkins so I have a nice amount of fabric ones that I've picked up at thrift stores through the years. Same for the table centerpiece - I have lovely items that I've bought used...I look for inspiration on Pinterest and decorating blogs on new ways to use them.
When we're guests, I still will shop frugally for the side dishes that I take along. It's smart to watch for great gas prices and fill up before travel. I don't buy new clothes for the day...rather I dress from my wardrobe.

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natasha lamoreux

We save at Thanksgiving by shopping early and shopping deals.

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Chris

I make a list and watch for sales.

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Evie B.

I use coupons and shop smart.

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KAREN

I cook almost all of my foods from scratch. I enjoy cooking and I save money by not purchasing prepared foods.

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Lisa Kreutter

My advice is to shop sales, and stack coupons when possible. Don't overlook Aldi for sales and the savings apps Checkout 51 or Ibotta.

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Michelle D.

I look at the weekly grocery ads and pick out the items I need that are on sale.

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Rebecca Ross

A lot of years my husband and I have had to work on Thanksgiving. On the years that we don't, though, we have dinner with family, where we all bring dishes for the meal.

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Guest

Have a potluck dinner and drink cheap wine.

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Sharon

We save money on Thanksgiving by checking all the deals at our local stores. Also thanks to Aldi, we can buy a lot of the basics like potatoes for very cheap.

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SKB

I buy my turkey on sale and then I make the sides myself. Homemade is cheaper and tastier.

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Lynda

by doing potluck with family

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Natalie

I save money on Thanksgiving by using coupons and buying items on sale.

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Happy Love

Sales + coupons.

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Ashley P.

I shop sales and use coupons

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Angel

Stock up where you can before the big day. If you invite people, have them bring something. Try to avoid doing things at the last minute.

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Miss Kim

We keep meals simple and don't spend money on things like decorations.

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Pam ricks

We have everyone pitch in and contribute. Someone will bring wine/drinks, someone a pie, someone a cheese platter, and so on.

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Tabathia B

I purchase items on sale, with loaded coupons on store card and with manufacturer's coupons

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Thomas Murphy

I use coupons to save money.