Thanksgiving conjures images akin to Norman Rockwell’s painting of the family matriarch serving a perfectly browned turkey to an adoring family. The least commercial holiday of the season brings fond thoughts of full bellies and fun with relatives and friends. Keep the focus of day on giving thanks for your good fortune without spending a fortune.
Make it a potluck
The very nature of the holiday—bringing family together in one household—creates the perfect occasion for a potluck-style dinner. The hosts makes the bird and the stuffing. Aunts and uncles bring mashed potatoes, rolls and vegetables. Grandma arrives with her apple and pumpkin pies. Not only does this spread out the considerable work to make a big meal for a large group, it divvies up the cost as well.
Beware the free turkey supermarket offer
Grocery stores like to award free turkeys to customers who spend above a certain amount over a few weeks. It’s not a good deal if you’re spending more than your usual budget on groceries just to meet the free-turkey threshold. Make it work for you by stocking up on staples and freezable foods if you just can’t resist the offer of a free bird.
Decorate from nature; use kids crafts
Create a naturally festive look with a bowl full of pinecones and some colorful gourds. Or make an adaptable wreath-and-lights centerpiece that lasts from Halloween through New Year’s Day. Kids crafts—including that perennial favorite, a turkey fashioned from a handprint—capture the spirit of a holiday built around family togetherness.
Meatless cuisine is less expensive and healthier. Don’t start building a fake turkey out of tofu, yet, however. No-meat main dishes such as vegetarian fakeloaf with oats can substitute for the bird.
Buy boxed wine
Higher-end producers have caught on to the benefits of wine from a box. Black Box offers quality vintages at about half the amount you would pay for bottled wine. Perfect for big gatherings, standard boxes are equal to three bottles.
If a cardboard box seems tacky at the holiday table, pour it into a carafe first, or keep the box in the kitchen.
Keep the focus on family
Play board games; watch football; look at old photographs. Memories make the greatest gifts on this happy holiday.